The Pitt News

Botham Jean’s family to sue city of Dallas and former police officer, attorney says

Amber+Guyger.+%28Kaufman+County+Sheriff%27s+Office%29
Amber Guyger. (Kaufman County Sheriff's Office)

Amber Guyger. (Kaufman County Sheriff's Office)

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TNS

Amber Guyger. (Kaufman County Sheriff's Office)

By Dana Branham and Jennifer Emily | The Dallas Morning News

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The family of 26-year-old Botham Jean plans to sue the city of Dallas and the former Dallas police officer who shot him in his own apartment earlier this month.

Attorney Lee Merritt said Allison and Bertrum Jean plan to file a federal lawsuit claiming excessive use of force by Amber Guyger.

The city will be named as a defendant because Guyger was operating “under the color of state authority” even though she was off the clock, Merritt said.

“She is in uniform, she was wearing a badge, she purports to give commands which he allegedly failed to comply to,” he said. “Clocking in or clocking out has no bearing on that analysis.”

Merritt said he didn’t know when the lawsuit would be filed.

Legal experts have said Dallas could be held liable for Jean’s death if attorneys can convince a court that Guyger was acting in the scope of her employment when she killed Jean.

The Dallas Police Department fired Guyger on Monday, more than two weeks after the Sept. 6 shooting at the South Side Flats apartment complex in the Cedars. She was charged with manslaughter three days after the shooting and turned herself in to the Kaufman County Jail. She posted bond within an hour and is free, awaiting trial.

Guyger told investigators she had parked on the wrong floor of the parking garage of the complex where she lived, then walked into the apartment directly above hers thinking it was her own.

She said she saw a silhouette in the apartment and mistook Jean for a burglar. She fired her service weapon twice, striking him in the torso.

Before the shooting, Jean was watching football in his apartment. He had been eating cereal and texting a friend.

Jean’s family and their attorneys have cast doubt on the officer’s version of events, pointing to differences in Guyger’s account of the shooting as written in various documents, such as the arrest-warrant affidavit and search-warrant affidavits.

Merritt has previously said that he doesn’t think Guyger went to Jean’s apartment accidentally but that he doesn’t have a theory of what happened.

Jean was buried Monday in his home country of St. Lucia, where mourners gathered demanding justice for his death.

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Botham Jean’s family to sue city of Dallas and former police officer, attorney says