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Judge Reverses 2019 Decision to Dismiss Lawsuit Against Dallas In Death of Botham Jean, Decides Family Can Proceed with Amended Suit

A United States District Court judge has reversed the 2019 decision to dismiss a lawsuit filed against Dallas in the killing of Botham Jean, ruling that Jean’s family can file an amended suit against the city.

Judge Barbara Lynn, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, ruled on Thursday, Dec, 17, that Jean’s family can proceed with the Civil Rights suit against the city after she decided nearly a year ago on Dec. 26, 2019, to dismiss the suit against Dallas in Jean’s death.

Jean’s attorney amended the suit in January 2020 and re-filed the claim.

“This important decision will allow the family of Botham Jean an opportunity to once again try and hold the City of Dallas accountable for its failures in training officers on appropriate use of force,” said Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family.

Botham Jean was killed by Dallas officer Amber Guyger while in his own home in 2018. Photo: Family Photo

Jean was killed in September 2018 when off-duty Dallas officer Amber Guyger entered his apartment and shot him. Guyger claimed she had mistaken Jean’s apartment for her own and that she thought Jean was an intruder. She was sentenced last year to 10 years in prison.

The Jean family initially filed a lawsuit against the city in 2018, alleging Guyger was not properly trained in the use of non-lethal force. The suit claimed that the Dallas Police Department “trains its officers to use deadly force even when there exist no immediate threat to themselves or others.”

Merritt said the amended lawsuit was based on testimony given by Guyger during the trial.

“She said that if you see a suspect, they’re trained at the academy, and you cannot see their hands you are authorized to use force against them,” said Merritt. 

Woman cries on stand
Ex-Dallas cop Amber Guyger was shown in live video of the fifth day of her murder trial crying on the stand. She is accused of murdering Botham Jean in his own apartment on Sept. 6, 2018.

Jean’s family believes the city must be held accountable for Guyger’s inadequate training.

“[Guyger] acted based on how she was trained… so the City has to be a party to that suit. The City has to be held for her actions and her poor training” said Allison Jean, Botham Jean’s mother.

Guyger’s attorneys filed an appeal in August, requesting she be acquitted on murder charges and instead be charged with criminally negligent homicide.

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