UPDATE: Botham Jean’s family has announced that they will appeal the judge’s decision to remove the city of Dallas from the wrongful death civil suit they filed seeking some justice for Jean’s murder.
“The issue of police brutality involves much more than the independent acts of a single officer,” Jean family attorney S. Lee Merritt said in a statement Friday. “Cities and police departments are culpable in the brutal acts of officers they train, arm and retain. The suit against Amber Guyger will proceed and the city will likely be required to “indemnify” or pay for any award/judgment levied against Guyger individually. That is not enough.
“It is important that the city itself be investigated and prosecuted for the multitude of shortcomings that allow this pattern to repeat itself over and over again,” Merritt continued. “We will continue to fight for the City of Dallas’ inclusion in this case and we will win. Let’s keep pushing.”
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn dismissed the city of Dallas from a civil lawsuit this week filed by the family of 26-year-old Botham Jean, Dallas News reports.
As ESSENCE previously reported, former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, 31, murdered Jean, her upstairs neighbor, on Sept. 6, 2018. A jury found her guilty of murder on Oct. 1, 2019 and she is now serving a 10-year sentence.
Guyger claimed that she was so exhausted after working a 14-hour day that she parked on the 4th floor of the South Side Flats apartment building, instead of the 3rd floor. Consequently, Guyger claims that she walked down the wrong hallway and mistakenly entered apartment number 1478–Botham Jean’s apartment, instead of her apartment 1378—and killed him because she perceived him as an intruder.
Guyger was still in uniform when she murdered Jean with her service weapon. Jean’s family argued in their wrongful death lawsuit that his death was a result of a pattern of excessive force by Dallas police and that better training could have prevented his death.
“By simply following proper police procedures and the best police practices and not the protocol of the DPD to ‘shoot first and ask questions later’, Defendant Guyger would have not shot Jean,” the lawsuit read. “Essentially, Officer Guyger was ill-trained, and as a result, defaulted to the defective DPD policy: to use deadly force even when there exist no immediate threat of harm to themselves or others.”
In her decision, Lynn wrote that she was “upholding a magistrate judge’s decision and dismissing the city because the suit failed ‘to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,'” Yahoo News reports.
Daryl Washington, the Jean family’s lawyer, maintains that Guyger acted and was treated as an on-duty officer at the scene of the crime and therefore the city should be held accountable.
Guyger, who is now the sole defendant in the suit, testified during her murder trial that she issued commands to Jean, did not perform CPR on him as he lay dying because it didn’t cross her mind, and that she “couldn’t remember” any information from an 8-hour de-escalation training course, which she’d taken five months before the shooting.