A lawsuit filed by the family of a man shot inside his own apartment in September by former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger alleges Guyger “showed signs of being a dangerous and violent person.”
Guyger is accused of fatally shooting Botham Shem Jean after walking into his apartment on Sept. 6, mistakenly believing that it was her apartment, according to police.
Guyger was off-duty when the shooting occurred but still in uniform after completing her shift.
The lawsuit was filed by Allison and Bertrum Jean, Botham Jean’s mother and father, in the Northern District of Texas on Friday. In the suit, the family blames Guyger, the police department and the city for Jean’s death.
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The Dallas police department said they cannot comment on pending litigation. The Dallas City Council was not immediately available for comment Friday evening.
Jean’s family says in the suit that Guyger had a history of violence and used excessive force against Jean, resulting in his wrongful death.
The family also says the Dallas Police Department “has a pattern, practice, history, and custom of using excessive force against minorities,” and accuses it of not providing proper training or discipline for Guyger when it came to using deadly force.
“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 states. “Essentially, Officer Guyger was ill-trained, and as a result, defaulted to the defective DPD policy: to use deadly force even when there exists no immediate threat of harm to themselves or others.”
Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall and the Dallas City Council are also specifically named by the family, who say they failed to implement policies that would have prevented Jean’s death.
The family makes the following accusations against Dallas police in the suit:
- The Dallas police investigation into Jean’s death was “characterized by bias, partiality and a lack of thoroughness and/or professionalism, specifically designed to ratify the behavior and cover-up the misconduct of Defendant Guyger.”
- Detectives sought warrants for Jean’s apartment specifically to find “evidence of illegality.”
- Police officers anonymously told media outlets information to try and cast Guyger in the best light and create a narrative in her favor.
- “On the day of Jean’s memorial,” the family says in the suit, “media published a warrant affidavit DPD investigators failed to seal indicating drugs and drug paraphernalia was recovered from the home of the decedent, all designed to protect Defendant Guyger.”
- The Dallas police department “has a pattern, practice, history, and custom of using excessive force against minorities.”
- The department “trains its officers to use deadly force even when there exist no immediate threat to themselves or others.”
The family also says Guyger showed signs of being a dangerous and violent person based on a prior shooting of an unarmed suspect of color and pictures that Guyger allegedly re-posted on her Pinterest account.
Posts allegedly from Guyger’s Pinterest account are included in the lawsuit. Pinterest is a social media platform where users share images or videos to their own or others’ pages, or “boards.”
The quote, “I wear all black to remind you not to mess with me, because I’m already dressed for your funeral,” was saved to Guyger’s Pinterest board “love to laugh,” the lawsuit says.
Another quote, “People are so ungrateful. No one ever thanks me for having the patience not to kill them” was also saved to Guyger’s Pinterest page, the suit says.
After the shooting, the suit says, Guyger was given time to scrub her social media accounts.
The lawsuit says there were numerous signs that should have made it apparent to Guyger that she was at the wrong apartment.
According to Guyger’s arrest affidavit, Guyger says she went to the wrong floor — Jean lived in the apartment directly above hers.
“She inserted a unique door key, with an electronic chip, into the door key hole,” the affidavit says. “The door, which was slightly ajar prior to Guyger’s arrival, fully opened under the force of the key insertion.”
Jean’s red door mat, the illuminated number by the apartment door and the noise and red light that would have resulted from Guyger inserting the incorrect key into Jean’s lock should have indicated to her she was in front of the wrong apartment, the suit says.
According to the affidavit, once the door opened, Guyger saw Jean across the room. She described him to authorities as looking like a large silhouette because it was dark inside and said she believed he was an intruder.
The lawsuit says Guyger drew her gun and began issuing verbal commands to Jean, who tried to comply by slowly standing up from the couch.
Guyger fired her handgun twice and hit Jean in the chest, the suit says. She called 911 and her attorney as Jean laid on the floor and “struggled to survive in extreme pain.”
At no point, the suit says, did Guyger try to perform lifesaving measures on Jean.
When Jean was taken to the hospital and officers arrived on scene, Guyger was not taken into custody and made several phone calls prior to giving a statement. At some point, she was allowed to go back inside Jean’s apartment, the suit says.
The family is seeking compensation for damages caused by Jean’s death. They are also seeking punitive and exemplary damages against Guyger “to deter this type of conduct in the future,” the suit says.
Jean came to the U.S. when he was 19 to attend Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, and was a member of various clubs and outreach events.
Jean, 26, started working at PricewaterhouseCoopers and “was considered to be one of the rising stars within the international corporation,” the lawsuit says.
Guyger was fired on Sept. 24 from the Dallas police department. She was arrested on a manslaughter charge, but a grand jury could decide to upgrade the charge to murder, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said previously.