The family of Botham Jean filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Dallas and police officer Amber Guyger late last month, claiming that Guyger used excessive force and violated Jean’s constitutional and civil rights when she shot and killed the 26-year-old PwC associate in his apartment on Sept. 6.
The lawsuit—which was filed on Oct. 26 by Jean’s parents, Allison and Bertrum Jean, who live on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, and his sister, Allisa Findley of New York—also states that Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall, the Dallas City Council, and the city manager “failed to implement and enforce such policies, practices and procedures for the DPD that respected Jean’s constitutional rights.”
Guyger, who made some really dumb comments on social media about threatening to shoot people before she actually shot Jean, was arrested and charged with manslaughter on Sept. 9. She was released on $300,000 bond.
The Dallas Police Department fired Guyger on Sept. 24 for engaging in adverse conduct. She had worked at the department for nearly five years.
Jean, a native of St. Lucia who was a risk assurance associate in PwC’s Dallas office, was fatally shot in his South Side Flats apartment by Guyger after she had finished a 15-hour shift and believed she had entered her apartment, not his. She thought her apartment was being burglarized.
Guyger’s apartment is directly one floor below Jean’s and she mistakenly parked on the fourth floor of the complex’s parking garage instead of the third floor. She was still in uniform when she shot Jean. He died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
According to a Dallas Morning News article, Robert Rogers, Guyger’s attorney in the criminal case, declined to comment about the lawsuit. He has previously said that Guyger is “completely devastated by what happened” and described the shooting as “a tragic mistake.”
Attorney Lee Merritt, who represents Jean’s family, along with attorneys Daryl Washington and Benjamin Crump, told the Dallas Morning News the Jeans want their lawsuit to bring about changes in how police officers are trained.
“They want accountability,” Merritt said. “Part of the goal of civil lawsuits is for the monetary damages to make the defendants take steps to prevent this in the future.”
Merritt said the Jeans aren’t holding themselves as experts to say what that training should be. But, he said, “a man sitting in his home should not be killed.”
The lawsuit says that Guyger was “ill-trained” and “defaulted to the defective DPD policy: to use deadly force even when there exist no immediate threat of harm to themselves or others.”
It also states:
The City of Dallas and the DPD failed to adequately train and failed to adequately supervise or discipline Officer Guyger despite her unlawful conduct. It was not until a public outcry that Chief Hall finally terminated Guyger.
Officer Guyger’s lack of training by the DPD led to the use of excessive and deadly force and, ultimately, her killing Jean. …
The DPD has longstanding records of not providing DPD officers with adequate training on de-escalation techniques intended to prevent instances of excessive and deadly force and extrajudicial killings by Dallas Police officers.
The actual practice or custom of the DPD regarding the use of deadly force is to “shoot first and ask questions later.”
As a result of the lack of training and the official custom or policies of the DPD, there have been a number of deadly police shootings of unarmed minorities.
While the Jeans did not ask for a specific dollar amount in their lawsuit, it does say the plaintiffs “seek answers and compensation for their respective damages.”
The Dallas Morning News noted that even though Guyger was off-duty at the time of the shooting, a court could find the city of Dallas liable if she used her authority as a police officer when she shot Jean. The city would likely argue that Guyger acted as a startled resident returning to what she thought was her apartment.
The lawsuit probably will be put on hold until the criminal charge against Guyger makes its way through criminal court, the article states. A grand jury could indict her for manslaughter, murder, or another charge. It also could decide she should not be charged with a crime.