Last week, former Dallas PD officer Amber Guyger got ten years for the murder of Botham Jean, an unarmed black man who was killed by Guyger when she went into the wrong apartment, thinking it was hers after a shift, and she shot him dead on the couch.
A conviction was surprising enough, the ten year sentence for murder shouldn't shock anyone a fraction of the time other convicted murderers got in the state of Texas. Still, people don't convict cops without overwhelming evidence, and that's still no guarantee.
Part of the evidence against Guyger was provided by the testimony of Joshua Brown, Botham Jean's neighbor from across the hall. On Friday night, Brown was found dead from multiple gunshots in the parking lot of his new apartment complex.
Authorities say that, on Friday, Dallas police were called to Brown’s new apartment complex, about five miles from where Jean was murdered, at about 10:30 pm local time, where they found Brown lying in the parking lot with multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead from his injuries.
Throughout the murder trial against Guyger, Brown testified, sometimes emotionally, about the moments when he heard gunshots ring out as he approached his apartment, and about Guyger’s behavior immediately after she killed Jean on September 6, 2018. Guyger has said she believed the apartment was her own, and that she mistook Jean for an intruder.
Brown said that he saw Guyger enter the hallway from Jean’s apartment, crying, and speaking on the phone. Attorney Lee Merritt, who represented the Jean family in the trial, wrote on Facebook that Brown’s testimony played a key role in challenging Guyger’s account of the incident and her claims that she had shouted commands at Botham before shooting him.
“She didn’t. No one heard that. No neighbors. No passerby’s. Not Joshua as he walked down the corridor. No one,” Merritt wrote.
Dallas police officials have not yet identified Brown as the victim of Friday’s shooting, but his mother confirmed his death through Merritt. Officials have also not yet identified a suspect or potential motive, and autopsy details have not yet been released. Witnesses have said that a four-door sedan was seen speeding away from the scene of the shooting.
On social media, Merritt, the attorney, called for answers.
“Brown deserves the same justice he sought to ensure the Jean family,” Merritt wrote. “The Dallas County criminal justice system must [be] mobilized to identify his killer and see that he is held accountable for this murder.
There are unsubstantiated rumors that Brown was shot in the mouth, which would be a clear message killing that Brown was gunned down because he dared to testify against a white female cop in Texas, a modern lynching. Even if he wasn't shot in the mouth however, a dead black witness in a trial where a cop was convicted based in no small part on the testimony of that witness is still a clear message of fear and hatred.
If you are black in America like me, this is a stark reminder that you draw breath only because the police haven't decided to take your life.