A witness who delivered key testimony in the trial of Amber Guyger — the white former Dallas police officer convicted this past week in the murder of an unarmed black man, Botham Jean — was fatally shot on Friday night, a lawyer for Jean’s family said.
The witness, Joshua Brown, 28, who lived in the same apartment complex as Guyger and Jean, was shot several times by an unknown assailant, Lee Merritt, the family’s lawyer, said on Twitter Saturday night.
Brown’s death occurred just two days after a Dallas County jury sentenced Guyger to 10 years in prison, well short of the maximum 99 years that she could have received in the killing of Jean, a 26-year-old immigrant from the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia.
The sentence angered Jean’s family members and social justice advocates, who said it was another example of failing to hold white police officers like Guyger accountable for their actions.
“His murder underscores the reality of the black experience in America,” Merritt said of Brown. “A former athlete turned entrepreneur — Brown lived in constant fear that he could be the next victim of gun violence, either state sanctioned or otherwise. Brown deserves the same justice he sought to ensure the Jean family.”
The Dallas Police Department would not confirm that Brown was the shooting victim, but said in an e-mail that officers had responded to the Atera apartments at 4606 Cedar Springs Road around 10:37 p.m. local time Friday for a reported shooting.
“The complainant was found lying on the ground in the apartment parking lot with multiple gunshot wounds,” the police said. “Dallas Fire-Rescue responded and transported the complainant to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he died from his injuries. Several witnesses heard several gunshots and observed a silver four-door sedan leaving the parking lot at a high rate of speed.”
Police officials said the victim did not have identification on him.
The shooting of Jean in September 2018 ignited protests and calls for justice, with demonstrations outside Police Headquarters and inside City Hall. After weeks of community tensions and accusations of preferential treatment for the police, a grand jury came back with the increased charge of murder. By that time, Guyger had been fired from the Dallas Police Department.
During a weeklong trial, prosecutors sought to paint Guyger as careless and aggressive on the night she entered someone else’s home, pulled her service weapon, and opened fire. Her defense lawyers argued that she had made an unfortunate but understandable mistake during a “perfect storm” of circumstances that ended in tragedy.
Brown testified about the night of the fatal shooting, saying that he had heard gunshots after a surprise encounter between his one-time neighbors.