TheGrio has launched a special series called #BlackonBlue to examine the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans. Our reporters and videographers will investigate police brutality and corruption while also exploring local and national efforts to improve policing in our communities. Join the conversation, or share your own story, using the hashtag #BlackonBlue.
Today, Bertrum and Allison Jean and members of their family will board a plane headed home to St. Lucia. Once there, she will say a final goodbye to their son, Botham Jean, who is being buried in his homeland in the Caribbean.
Just two weeks ago, off-duty Officer Amber Guyger shot and killed the 26-year-old Black man in his Dallas apartment. Guyger claims she thought she was entering her apartment (which was actually directly below) and fired her weapon after issuing a verbal warning and assuming the shadowy figure she saw was that of an intruder. She was wrong, and her fatal mistake ultimately cut short the life of a man who many describe as having an infectious smile and a joyful demure that would instantly make you call him a friend.
TheGrio sat down with Allison and her attorney, Lee Merritt in our New York studio to discover the man behind the big grin, her immediate feelings the night she received the call about her son’s death and her unwavering quest for justice and the truth.
“Botham was as many people have said, a people person. He loved to interact and he was the life of the party. He was always involved anywhere he went,” said Allison Jean.
After high school, Botham left St. Lucia and moved to Arkansas to attend Harding University. It was a decision that didn’t sit well with his mother at first, who wanted him to stay in the Caribbean. While he loved and respected her, she describes him as a focused, clever young man who clearly had a mind of his own.
His strong will led him to pursuing a job as a risk assurance associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas. His mother says she had hoped to one day soon to have the opportunity to see her son meet the love of his life and get married.
As she navigates in slow motion, trying to gain clarity about what really happened to her son, Allison Jean is committed to pushing forward to gain justice for his death.
“There are at least three concurrent investigations going forward: the District Attorney is running an investigation, they are relying heavily on the Texas Rangers and their investigation, and my office is doing a concurrent investigation as well,” said Merritt. “The Ranger investigation hasn’t given us much hope. We got a summary of their view of the case early on and they seem dedicated to confirming the story of Ms. Guyger and not necessarily arriving to the truth.”
As the evidence continues to be analyzed, Guyger remains in hiding. Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall just disclosed that, while Guyger has been charged with manslaughter, her hands are tied from pursuing disciplinary actions against Guyger. Technically, Guyger still has a job. Protestors in Dallas and elsewhere refuse to let Botham’s death fade away as yet another statistic where a Black man is killed by a white police officer.
“It makes me feel like I’m not alone,” said Allison Jean. “I’m grateful for all that I’ve seen happening.”
Watch our interview for more about Botham Jean, specific updates on the investigation and why his mother simply does not believe Amber Guyger is telling the truth.
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