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Wednesday
Sep122018

Man killed by Dallas police officer inside his own apartment to be laid to rest

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- The 26-year-old man who was allegedly killed by an off-duty Dallas police officer in his own apartment will be laid to rest Thursday.

Botham Jean was fatally shot Sept. 6 when a patrol officer who lived in the same apartment complex south of downtown Dallas, returned home from working a 15-hour shift and started to enter what she believed to be her apartment, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The officer, 30-year-old Amber Guyger, who is white, was still wearing her police uniform when she found the door to the apartment ajar and saw a "large silhouette" inside the residence when she opened the door all the way, according to the warrant. She told investigators she thought her apartment was being burglarized, drew her service weapon, shouted several commands and then opened fired twice.

Jean who was black and lived alone in the apartment directly above one where Guyger resided was shot once and later died at Baylor Hospital, according to the warrant.

As Guyger was on the phone calling 911 for help, she realized she was in the wrong apartment when she went to the front door and looked at the apartment number, according to the warrant.

Guyger, a four-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, was arrested three days after the shooting on a manslaughter charge. Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said this week that a grand jury will decide the ultimate charge against Guyger and did not rule out pursuing a murder indictment.

A funeral service to commemorate Jean is scheduled for Thursday at noon at the Greenville Avenue Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas. A subsequent service will be held on the Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia, where Jean grew up and some of his family still lives.

Jean was born and raised on Saint Lucia, and his mother worked as an official for the Saint Lucian government for several years.

In 2016, Jean graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, where he majored in accounting and management information systems, according to a Sept. 7 statement from the school.

"The entire Harding family grieves today for the loss of Botham Jean, who has meant so very much to us. Please join us in praying for Botham’s friends and family," Harding University said in the statement.

Jean was an active member of the student body at the private Christian university. He was a resident assistant, an intern for the Rock House campus ministry, a leader in Sub T-16 men's social club and a member of the Good News Singers a capella group. He also "frequently led worship for chapel and campus events," the school said.

At the time of his death, Jean was working for PricewaterhouseCoopers, a multinational professional services firm with an office in Dallas. He was listed on LinkedIn as a risk assurance experienced associate.

"This is a terrible tragedy. Botham Jean was a member of the PwC family in our Dallas office and we are simply heartbroken to hear of his death," the company said in a statement obtained by ABC News on Sept. 7.

The Dallas West Church of Christ, where Jean worshiped and taught a young adult Bible study every week, shared a post about his death on Facebook with a short, somber message of its own.

"In complete tears," the church wrote in the post Friday morning, along with a reference to a Bible verse that says to "pray without ceasing" and "hold fast what is good."

A spokesperson for the church did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for further comment.

In an interview last week with Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV, the church's minister, Sammie Berry, said that "history has changed because we lost this great young man."

Jessica Berry, the minister's daughter and a close friend of Jean's, told ABC affiliate WFAA-TV that Jean was scheduled to lead worship on Sunday.

"It's like a big chunk of the church's heart has been ripped out," she said.

Jean's mother, Allison Jean, said she still doesn't understand how her son was shot to death in his own home by a police officer in uniform.

"I'm not satisfied that we have all the answers," she said at a press conference outside the Dallas County District Attorney's Office on Monday. "And the No. 1 answer that I want is what happened. I have asked too many questions and I've been told that there are no answers yet."

As she spoke, the mother stood between her daughter, Allisa Charles Findley, and youngest son, Brandt Jean.

"I'm looking forward to all of the powers that be to come up with the answers to make me more satisfied that they are doing what is in the best interest of getting justice for Botham," she told reporters.

Guyger took a blood-alcohol test but the results have not come back, according to the district attorney.

Lee Merritt, the lawyer for Jean's family, said the evidence they've collected, some of which rebuts an arrest affidavit released by police Monday, supports a murder charge.

"Even if we accept this narrative, this affidavit, as the true narrative then we have to evaluate what she alleges she did with what the law says is the proper use of deadly force and we don’t find that here," Merritt told ABC News in an interview late Monday. "And on its own terms it’s murder."

But Merritt said they do not agree with the information presented in the warrant.

"Independent witnesses have already come forward to say that they heard this officer pounding on the door and demanding to be let in," he said. "We find those independent witnesses to be very credible and if the door is open there would have been no need for that. The contradictions begin to build from there.

"As you dig into this affidavit you learn that she claims that she discovered that she was in her apartment after going back and looking at the door. But that she had previously turned on the lights in the apartment," he added. "In other words, sitting there and observing her apartment and the person she just shot and looking at the ambiance with the lights on didn’t alert her that she was in the wrong apartment. She had to turn around and go back and look at the door. That just seems highly implausible."

A search warrant affidavit released Tuesday showed that investigators for the Texas Rangers, a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety which conducted an independent investigation and recommended the manslaughter charge against Guyger, showed that Jean was shot once in the chest.

"A neighbor stated that he heard an exchange of words, immediately followed by at least two gunshots," the search warrant affidavit reads but does not indicate what may have been said.

The search warrant also showed that investigators seized Jean's cell phone and laptop computer.

The document goes on to say that Jean's door was ajar because the "possibility exists that ... Jean was expecting an unknown visitor and the cell phone device or laptop computer may contain evidence of such communications."

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