He was ‘a great Christian example,’ classmate says of man killed by Dallas cop

Dallas officer who fatally shot a man will be charged with manslaughter, police say

A Dallas police officer will be charged with manslaughter after she walked into an apartment she mistakenly believed was her own on Thursday night and shot and killed the 26-year-old man who was inside, Chief Renee Hall said.
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A Dallas police officer will be charged with manslaughter after she walked into an apartment she mistakenly believed was her own on Thursday night and shot and killed the 26-year-old man who was inside, Chief Renee Hall said.

Botham Shem Jean had a heart that led him to serve others.

The 26-year-old was active in his church and often led the congregation in song. He was a Harding University graduate and worked at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Dallas.

A Dallas police officer who mistook Jean’s apartment for her own shot and killed him at around 10 p.m. Thursday, Police Chief Renee Hall said. That officer, who has yet to be identified, is expected to be charged with manslaughter, the chief said.

The officer finished a full shift and was returning to her apartment at the South Side Flats at 1210 S. Lamar Street when the shooting occurred. Hall said it’s still unclear what happened between the officer and Jean.

Many questions — such as why the officer thought Jean’s apartment was her own or how she got inside — still went unanswered on Friday afternoon.

By Friday morning, Jean’s name became yet another trending hashtag in a string of names of African-American men who have been killed by white police officers. Friends and family used social media to share their memories of him.

Jean was from the Caribbean island Saint Lucia, where much of his family still lives.

He went to college in Searcy, Arkansas and moved to Dallas to be a risk assurance associate for PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

“I always saw Botham around campus,” Amy Johnson said on Twitter. “He always wanted to lead in chapel in whatever way he could. He was always so nice and so kind. He was definitely a light at Harding — one who I could never forget. Prayers for his family and friends.”

Grant Smith, another classmate, said Jean was “a great Christian example and an inspiration to us all.”

Smith created a GoFundMe to help Jean’s family cover funeral arrangements and his family’s travel expenses. The GoFundMe can be found here: gofundme.com/in-memory-of-botham-jean.

“Botham was everything I wish I was and more,” Aaron Young wrote on the fundraiser. “He moved more people with his smile and his voice than I can possibly imagine. My heart goes out to his family. He was so so loved.”

While in school, Jean was a member of the Good News Singers, he was a resident assistant, an intern for the Rock House campus ministry and a leader in Sub T-16 men’s social club, the university said.

On April 9, 2014, Jean uploaded a video on YouTube during his campaign to be the university’s student association president.

“My whole platform has been to initiate a forum where students can talk freely and can express their views freely in a positive way,” he says in the video. “I think this whole concept of opening doors between faculty and students, I think that is gonna have a significant impact on all students on campus because they can now express what they feel and we can use that to develop plans and initiatives that are going to affect their lives.”

Jean said his ability to unify and motivate his classmates set him apart from his three opponents.

Asked why he wanted to be student association president, Jean said, “I want to serve. My heart and experience has led me to serve. I want every student at Harding to have the best Harding experience possible and go on to accomplish all of their dreams.”

In a 2015 interview with the Harding University student newspaper, The Bison, Jean spoke about a student group called “Bisons for Christ” serving the community.

“Bisons for Christ really aims not just to have a day of service, but to try and give people an opportunity to see what service is like,” Jean said. “I believe that is the example that Christ gave to us. He came and he didn’t restrict his life to himself, but took the initiative to go and find people.”

In another newspaper article published his freshman year of college, Jean said a Faith and Business Symposium he attended helped him learn how to deal with future situations that might arise with being a Christian in the world of business.

“The people around us may not reflect the same Christian values that we have grown up with,” Jean told his interviewer. “It may not be as ethical as we would want it to be.”

Harding University President Bruce McLarty posted a memory of Jean on Friday morning.

“At Lectureship one year, I asked him to lead singing one night. Because of the subject, there was a particular old hymn that I asked him if he would mind leading,” McLarty said. “He didn’t say anything about not knowing the song, but he had never heard it before in his life. He came up that evening and was just smiling and excited about leading it. He told me he had never heard the song before, but that day, he called back to St. Lucia and asked his grandmother to teach him that old hymn on the phone. So he shared it with us at Lectureship that night, and it was a truly special moment.”

According to the St. Lucia Times newspaper, Jean comes from a prominent family on the island.

He is the nephew of the chief executive officer of the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association Inc. He is the son of the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development.

On Facebook, Jean’s uncle, Earl Jean, said “how can this nasty world take you away from me ....this is the worst day of my life thus far....uncle loves you so much.”

Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, told NBC News that “he did no one any wrong.”

“Somebody has to be crazy not to realize that they walked into the wrong apartment,” Allie Jean told NBC. “He’s a bachelor. Things are different inside.

“And if you try your key and it doesn’t work, that should make you realize you’re at the wrong apartment. Every door for each apartment is also numbered,” she said.

His sister, Allisa Charles-Findley said, “Just last week I was thinking of what to get you for your birthday, now I have to go pick out your casket.”

Nichole Manna: 817-390-7684, @NicholeManna
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