Jean Family Attorney On Dallas Apartment Shooting

Sep 13, 2018
Originally published on September 13, 2018 11:05 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Botham Jean will be remembered today at a memorial service. A Dallas police officer shot and killed him in his own apartment. Officer Amber Guyger says she did not realize she was entering the wrong apartment, but Jean's parents told CBS News they don't believe this. Here's his mother, Allison Jean.

(SOUNDBITE OF CBS NEWS BROADCAST)

ALLISON JEAN: One of the things I would like is for Amber to just come clean. Just surrender.

INSKEEP: Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump is representing the Jean family, and he's with us now.

Good morning, sir.

BENJAMIN CRUMP: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: So the officer has told the authorities this was just a mistake; she came out of a parking garage on the wrong floor of an apartment building, went to the wrong door. What reason is there to doubt this?

CRUMP: Well, they have given variable narratives, and it keeps changing. But at the end of the day, she broke and entered Botham Jean's apartment, killed him, and now she's claiming self-defense.

INSKEEP: What are some of the differences in the basic story - her basic story being that she just went to the wrong door?

CRUMP: Well, first of all, when she was talking with the Dallas Police Department, she claimed that she was trying to enter the apartment, and she had her key, and she put things down so she can try to get into the apartment, even though there was a bright-red rug right outside of Botham's house to identify that that was his apartment. That should've gave her notice right there. And then she said there was a confrontation when she first started in the first narrative.

Now in this second, latest narrative by the Texas Rangers, Steve, she's saying the door was open; it was ajar. And she then entered the apartment shooting, so she shot before she came into the apartment when she saw a dark figure. This is much different than the first account she gave. And why would you have to put your key in a door that was already open? So it's just so many inconsistencies. And if you or I would have killed somebody and said we went in the wrong apartment, we still would've been arrested that night. But she wasn't arrested until three days later. The Botham Jean family believes that she is being given preferential treatment.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about that arrest first because the police chief, Ulysha Renee Hall, has attempted to explain that delay. Let's listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ULYSHA RENEE HALL: Initial indications were that we were dealing with an officer-involved shooting. However, as we continued the investigation, it became clear that we were dealing with what appears to be much of a very unique situation.

INSKEEP: So she's saying the facts gradually became apparent. They thought at first it was just plain self-defense and thought differently later on. What's wrong with that?

CRUMP: Well, think about it, Steve. If you or I entered somebody's apartment, somebody who's completely innocent, doing absolutely what they have every legal right to do, and we killed them, we are going to be arrested. We'll get our due process, but we are arrested. We're not given the benefit to go home and get our story together for three days. And that's what they're saying, that because she was a police officer, we didn't think it could be possible, that even though she was in the wrong apartment, that Botham Jean wasn't a criminal, we believe - and the family certainly believes - she saw a black man and she thought that he was a criminal just by virtue of seeing his black skin, even though she was the one in the wrong apartment.

What kind of prudent person - not a well-trained police officer - shoots into a dark apartment? A prudent person would have at least said, somebody's in my place; let me go call 911; let me get backup; don't let me go into a dark apartment. You're putting your life at danger. You're putting your life in fear. And it's just so outrageous to believe that this is what happened.

INSKEEP: Is there evidence that would suggest in any concrete way - perhaps there can't be - but that would suggest that his race was a factor in how quickly she pulled the trigger?

CRUMP: Well, that's certainly what we're going to find out. We don't know a lot of the information. We do know that there are independent witnesses that say they heard knocking at the door before they heard the gunshots, which totally contradicts what this police officer is now trying to say, who broke and entered Mr. Jean's apartment.

INSKEEP: Granting the inconsistencies in the different versions of the story, her bottom-line story is that she just went to the wrong door and was confused. Is there any alternative theory that you're able to offer, some other thing that could've happened here? For example, is there any evidence that she knew Mr. Jean beforehand, that there was something else going on other than just a mistake in going to the wrong door?

CRUMP: There is no evidence at this time that she knew Botham Jean. But think about this from Botham Jean's perspective and his family. Even if she went to the wrong apartment that she was - it was all a mistake, what kind of precedence would this set in America where the next time a person was killed in somebody's apartment, they say, oh, I was in the wrong place, so you shouldn't hold me accountable?

INSKEEP: Benjamin Crump, attorney for the family of Botham Jean. Thanks very much.

CRUMP: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.