Botham Jean Hearing – January 19, 2021, 11 am Eastern

Transcript: Hearing on the Case of Botham Jean


  • Rapporteur Horace Campbell
  • Commissioner Prof. Rashida Manjoo
  • Commissioner Mr. Bert Samuels
  • Ms. Allison Jean, mother of Botham Jean
  • Daryl Washington, attorney for the Jean family

Horace Campbell  00:00

Good morning again. Today January 19 2021, is the second day of the hearings. Welcome to the hearings of the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence against People of African Descent in the United States. These hearings are a process to which witnesses can present accounts of the unjustified killings and maimings of Black people by police officers in the United States before an international panel of human rights experts.

We now begin hearing the case of Botham Jean. My name is Horace Campbell. And I’m the rapporteur for this hearing. Presiding over this hearing, are the commissioners, Rashida Manjoo of South Africa and Commissioner Bert Samuels of Jamaica. The witnesses for the hearing are Allison Jean, the mother of this promising young man. The other witness is attorney Daryl Washington. There will be 50 minutes for this hearing. Witnesses will testify, followed by a period of questions from commissioners. I will call time at the 30 minute mark, and at the 45 minute mark. Please excuse my interruptions. Commissioner Manjoo and Commissioner Samuels, I now present to you the first witness, Allison Jean. Okay, Allison Jean. Please confirm your name.

Allison Jean  02:52

My name is Allison Jean.

Horace Campbell  02:56

Do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

Allison Jean  03:04

I do.

Horace Campbell  03:05

You may begin.

Allison Jean  03:07

Thank you very much, commissioners. Thank you very much attendees. I am really grateful than Botham’s name continues to be called. It has always been my desire to ensure that Botham’s name never, ever is forgotten. The sixth of every month and every Thursday brings back memories of the fateful September 6 2018. This is the date when my daughter Elisa received the call at 12:30am on September 7, from a social worker in Dallas, who informed of the shooting death of my son Botham Shem Jean, a couple of hours earlier.

26 year old Botham Shem Jean was born in St. Lucia in the Caribbean. He was my middle child, flanked by my daughter Alissa and Brandt. All of my children were born 10 years apart. Therefore, Botham acted as the glue, which brought Alissa and Brandt together. At the time of his passing, he was a risk assurance associate with Price Waterhouse Coopers PwC in Dallas, Texas, a Harding University graduate and a faithful member of the Church of Christ. During Botham’s short life, he was vociferous in his community outreach in his native country of St. Lucia. He led several mission teams from the Harding University and visited underprivileged and vulnerable institutions and communities in his hometown.

On that fateful day, my daughter and I immediately flew into Dallas to gain further information of this dreadful news. And of course, to bury my son. We were met by several Dallas officials, including the mayor, police chief district attorney, and the attorneys who my family has now retained. However, the most memorable encounter was with Texas Ranger David Armstrong, who informed us that he was tasked to investigate the case. And after only two hours of investigation had come to the conclusion that it was simply a web of mistakes. I couldn’t believe that after a whole year of investigation, Ranger David Armstrong came to the trial and maintained that my son’s murderer was reasonable in her actions. After meeting several other officials of the district attorney’s office, we were informed that officer Amber Guyger, who lived on the third floor of Southside Flats on South Lamar street in Dallas, left work at the Dallas Police Department, which is a mere two minutes from her apartment. She drove to the fourth floor and past 15 doors before landing on apartment 1478. She never noticed the red mat which laid at the door, a mat which Botham particularly placed while I was with him in December 2016 in order that he would not miss his apartment. She never noticed that when she inserted her key fob into the hole, that it recorded a red light rather than the green, that would signal the right to enter. She never noticed the difference in the layout of the apartment, nor the kitchen sink which was packed with dirty dishes. Her only focus was on a figure of a Black man lying in the comfort of his sanctuary, eating ice cream.

He was at the time working on a proposal to improve his church worship services and was awaiting the first football game of the season. Several protests and vigils erupted over Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Florida, Canada, the UK, and of course his home country St. Lucia. People were outraged at such reckless and even bizarre circumstances that would take the life of an upstanding, innocent individual in the prime of his life. While the community exhibited outreach and sought answers, Amber Guyger was given hugs by her colleagues, on that very night of this murder. The body cams and dash cams were ordered to be turned off, and she was given 72 hours cooling off period before she was arrested and charged for manslaughter.

We heard at the trial, that while my son lay cold in a morgue, Amber was still free to roam and invited her friends to come and get drunk and have a good time. This could only happen if one knew that she had the privilege to do so, white privilege, police privilege. Botham was buried in his country, St Lucia, on September 24 2018, a mere four days before his 27th birthday. A memorial service was held in Dallas on Sunday. November 13 attended by 1000s of family, friends and associates. His two funeral services showed the impact that Botham’s life and death had on many people around the world. On November 30 2018, a grand jury returned an indictment for murder on Amber Guyger. And the trial was set for September 23 2019. That trial was particularly painful for my family, as we had to sit and relive what my son went through, and also witnessed body cam footage and recordings of this dreadful night. The 911 call was particularly disturbing. I’ve highlighted the selfish account of Amber Guyger, who repeatedly conveyed that she thought she was in her apartment. There was no concern for my son’s condition. Not once did I hear the dispatcher asked whether CPR was administered, whether my son was breathing, whether he was conscious, nothing.

Instead, it was all about Amber Guyger, who also expressed that she was scared that she would lose her job. This had me outraged. Also at the trial, we learned that Amber Guyger was in a concubine relationship with a fellow officer who was married. They planned to meet that night. But he stood her up, and hence she was so upset that she walked to the apartment in a rage before murdering my son. To add insult to injury, we learned that while Amber Guyger should have been administering aid to my son, she was texting her lover, beckoning him to hurry to her aid. Sitting in that courtroom was the most grueling experience I have ever had. One major high point was under cross examination by the prosecutor, Amber Guyger acknowledged that before entering what she thought was her apartment, she heard shuffling and knew there was a threat inside. So she opened the door with the intention of killing the threat. This for me was — Bingo — because by then, I had done enough research and got advice on the differences between manslaughter and murder, and murder required intent.

Notwithstanding her defense of the castle doctrine and mistake of fact, a jury returned its verdict, guilty of murder, and sentenced her to 10 years in prison. Of course, Botham’s death has had an impact on every family member. My husband is unable to watch photos and videos of my son. He recalls the last time he saw him in New York earlier that year, when he watched him get into an Uber for the airport and stayed looking at him until the car was out of sight. The memories of their Sunday afternoon telephone conversations have now become very painful. My daughter saw Botham as her best friend, confidence and baby brother. Since he was highly opinionated, she called Botham to seek his views on decisions that she had to make.

They were two peas in a pod, and I couldn’t get between them. In May 2018, she visited Botham with her family, and he encouraged her to move to Dallas so they could be closer to each other. As a result of his passing, my daughter became angry at the whole world. She dreaded going to sleep at night because the memory of the dreadful call came back as she closed her eyes. She has become extremely nervous and overly cautious about locking doors and enhancing security of our home. My son Brandt was extremely angry following Botham’s death. He exhibited temper tantrums at random times, punching walls, benches, anything that was inside at the time. He also became reclused, and had to drop out of college because he couldn’t keep up his grades. To deal with his emotions, Brandt sought to forgive Guyger during his victim impact statements. We were all shocked at his actions, which he never discussed with us prior to doing them, after the trial. This was his way of freeing himself at the time, he was 17 years old, because the hurt and the pain could not be endured. As for me, I miss my son. I felt the loss of my son in my womb. There was pain as if I was in labor again.

There is not a day when there are no triggers that make me think of him. Botham loved politics, so the US elections in November last year, and the events of January 6 2021, in the US, gave me strong urges to speak to him. I can just imagine his spirited views on these events, and many, many more. I had to drop out of pursuing a doctoral program which I started and to receive psychological therapy for more than a year and my anxiety levels have remained quite high. I am nervous when Brandt leaves home, and I won’t settle down until he is safely back indoors. I think of Alissa and my three grandsons living in New York City and get scared that they could be targets as Black children in America. The events of other Black men and women in America like Atatiana Jefferson, Jemel Roberson, EJ Bradford, George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubery, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks, all brought back the pain of losing my Botham.

As a result of Botham’s death at the hands of a police officer. I can no longer watch my favorite television programs like Law and Order, CSI and Cops. Because these programs intensify the pain of losing Botham and reignite anger in me for all police officers. Visiting Botham’s grave is excruciating. Because it is hard to think of him in the ground. I rather imagine him still living in Dallas. However, when I visit Dallas reality kicks in again, because he’s not there. These repeated events have highlighted to me that the deaths of Black men and women by police in America and not done by accident. There are systemic issues which cause police to believe that the color of our skin is a threat, which must be shut down. We could see the stark contrast between the Black Lives Matter protest in the summer of last year and the insurrection in the Capitol in January, on January 6, 2021. In the days immediately following Botham’s death when community activists and Dallas residents sought justice on his behalf through protests in the streets., nine persons were immediately arrested for blocking a highway. One of the nine had a tracking anklet for two years before it was removed. Yet 1000s of people can storm the Capitol and walk out only because they are of a different skin color. This has to stop.

We are still seeking accountability from the city and Amber Guyger for the loss which we suffered. In December 2019. a magistrate judge ruled that the city should not be held liable for the death of my son. This decision was upheld by a federal court judge, who later reversed the decision dismissing the claims against the city of Dallas, and has now allowed the lawsuit to proceed once an amended lawsuit was filed. Another lawsuit has also been filed on Southside Flats, but no decision is forthcoming at this time. I am so grateful for my three attorneys Daryl Washington, Lee Merritt and Benjamin Crump, who have become family and continue to stand with and for my family in pursuing legal redress for this injustice. Botham had the potential to progress rapidly to the top of PwC, as he was marked by his superiors to work on large clients, he told me very often that he wanted to reach the level of partner at his firm, and also aspired to be the Prime Minister of his home country, St. Lucia. Meanwhile, Amber Guyger has filed an appeal against her conviction, requesting that it be reduced to criminally negligent homicide. She also claimed that she acted in self defense by murdering my son. My question is, what was she defending, as the only weapon he held was the color of his skin. I am hoping that this appeal results in a stiffer sentence like life imprisonment.

Notwithstanding the pain and anguish that my family has endured, in keeping with the work that Botham started and his love for mission, we decided to start the Botham Foundation to continue his sterling work and live his legacy. Since its establishment in March 2016, the foundation has reached out to institutions in Dallas and St. Lucia, that provide care to at risk children, delinquent boys, the elderly, and the homeless. We’ve conducted health fairs with blood pressure checks and testing for diabetes. We’ve also provided scholarships to students at Botham’s elementary school, and presented prizes to top students. The foundation provided lunches to frontline workers at the Baylor Hospital in Dallas during the critical time of the pandemic. 2000 backpacks were distributed to students in Dallas and St. Lucia in September, while food hampers were provided to the underprivileged. The foundation is our way of directing Botham’s positive energy to work that he started and would have engaged if he had been alive today. In addition to the work of the foundation, my family sought the renaming of South Lamar street on which Botham lived and died, and on which the Dallas Police Department is located. And last week, the City Council unanimously approved the new name as the Botham Jean Boulevard, four miles of road will bear my son’s name in downtown Dallas. This is indeed an honor in recognition of his upstanding life.

State representative from De Soto Carl Sherman has initiated Bo’s law, which seeks to introduce a police reform bill during the next legislative session, named after Botham. The Botham act will require law enforcement officers to keep their body cameras on and add punitive penalties if they don’t, while investigating a crime. In addition, the representative proposes that police officers should not be paid during the period of administrative leave for crimes committed while on duty. Botham has also been recognized posthumously by many organizations.

The Harding University immediately created Botham’s Army, distributing armbands to all students, friends and family. The Christian Acapella Music Awards named him Song Leader of the Year in Jacksonville, Florida. In November 2018, the Virginia Black History Association held a red carpet reception in his honor. The Dallas West Church of Christ and Abilene University hosted a racial unity conference in his name. The annual Caribbean lectureship of Churches of Christ hosted Bermuda for Bo in July 2019. Singspiration in his honor, and Udaso, which is a nonprofit organization that helps provide water wells for the people of Ghana, Africa, dedicated a well in Botham’s memory, the Dallas area Churches of Christ dedicated June 25 2019 to honor Botham during the national Crusade for Christ. His employer PwC started the be like Bo campaign throughout the 55,000 US employees. They also organized a day of understanding on December 7 2019, among 150 companies involving 600,000 employees, and have now dedicated a section of their newly constructed building in his memory. They have created the Botham Shem Jean different space with an inscription that states, this space is for inspiration and collaboration in memory and honor of our colleague, Botham Jean, for embodying positivity, energy, compassion, and joy. A man who served others unconditionally, saw the best in everyone and truly made a difference. They have also erected a portrait of Botham in their lobby, and provided for scholarships annually in Botham’s name to students studying accounting at Harding University.

I have stood for Botham and became his mouthpiece ever since his demise on September 6 2018. And I intend to continue to fight for justice for him. However, while I battle for my son, I am attempting to safeguard the lives of other Black men and women. Because I do not wish to see more families experience the pain that we have suffered. My quest is to ensure that policing changes in America and the treatment of African Americans are no different to that of other races. I thank you.

Horace Campbell  27:31

Thank you. commissioners, do you have questions?

Rashida Manjoo  27:45

Thank you. I wondered whether we were going to have Attorney Washington’s testimony?

Horace Campbell  27:54

We are so let me swear in, Daryl Washington, please confirm your name. You can unmute yourself there.

Daryl Washington  28:09

I am Daryl Washington.

Horace Campbell  28:12

Good. Do you promise that your testimony to the commission will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

Daryl Washington  28:19

I do.

Horace Campbell  28:21

You may begin.

Daryl Washington  28:22

Sure. First of all, I’d like to once again thank the commissioners for allowing me to give this testimony today. I’m not sure there’s very much that I can add after Ms. Jean has given you guys a breakdown of Botham’s story and Botham’s life. You know, one of the things I would like to start off with I was asked a question in the last session of how many police officers have been convicted of murder. And I thought it was just only appropriate since Amber Guyger was convicted of murder that I start off with giving US statistics. Just giving you the stats for the 15 years prior to George Floyd’s death. All of the police shootings that we have been seeing and witnessing throughout the United States. And we know that there’s been quite a few. Only 110 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter. And of all the shootings that that we have seen, now, just five of those 110 officers have been convicted of murder, while 37 have been found guilty of lesser crimes. Out of the 42 victims 25 were Black.

Now we hear this over and over. Why are police officers not being convicted? We know in most cases because it’s very difficult in other cases, is simply because district attorneys do not want to prosecute police officers. To give you just a little background on Botham’s case. I will never forget, September 6 2018, I’ll never forget that date. It will never go away. And let me tell you why, the significance of that date. We had just recently, in 2018, August 29 2018, we had just completed the trial of 15 year old Jordan Edwards. Jordan Edwards was shot in the head by Roy Oliver, a Balch Springs police officer. And Roy Oliver was the first police officer in over 40 years to be convicted of murder for a shooting that took place while on duty. And I’ll never forget, Miss Allison. We were addressing the media. And the one thing that I said to the media, I said, You know what, okay, after all these years, finally, we gonna have change. Finally, we were able to convict the police officer. Other mothers and fathers would not have to go through this. And lo and behold, less than 10 days later, September 6 2018, Botham was killed. We cannot believe this. We say we just got a police officer convicted of murder. How is it possible that Botham was killed? How is it possible that a young man was killed in his house? While he was eating ice cream? And watching the Philadelphia Eagles play football? How can it possibly happen? What’s going on? Will we ever see any change? And it was just mind boggling. And let me tell you why.

Horace Campbell  31:52

Excuse me. We just passed the 30 minute mark, please continue.

Daryl Washington  31:57

Sure. And let me tell you why.  In most of these cases and as we always discuss, generally, the background of the victims are put on trial. This is all the media hear. This is how how this person has a criminal history. And in other words, basically saying it is justification for this person to be dead. When we dealt with 15 year old Jordan Edwards, that totally eliminated that myth. This was a 15 year old kid who was a straight A student, never had trouble with police officers, and had an outstanding future. Then Botham is killed in his own apartment. Botham was working for Price Waterhouse Coopers, a young man that was the best of the best. How could this happen? One of the biggest hurdles we deal with with these cases is we have so many people in these communities who believe that this is an issue that doesn’t impact them. This is an issue that only impact a certain segment of the community. But with Botham, we saw that that was not the case. We fought long and hard for Botham’s case.

And on September 6, I’m sorry, on October 2 2019. Amber Guyger was convicted of murder for the death of Botham. And we had to give that same press conference. And the same my statement was all almost identical. This goes out to the families like the families of Tamir Rice, the family of all these victims who have not gotten justice, just maybe we can get some justice in the state of Texas, and in this country. And less than 10 days later, we hear about the case of Atatiana Jefferson. She was killed at her house almost identical to the way Botham was killed. So he leads one to wonder, will it ever change? How do we change this corrupt system? We’ve seen protests happen throughout this country, throughout this state. And it has been very promising. And the one reason why it is so promising is because we’re now seeing this younger generation, not only Black people, but white people as well. Everybody’s coming together, asking for change. But we know that it’s going to take more than the protesting. It’s going to take changing of the laws. And until we can get these laws to change, there’s no reason why. And of all these police shootings that we’ve seen occur in the last 15 years, only five have been charged with murder.

We just saw the high profile case I think in Wisconsin, I can’t remember the young man Jacob — i think is — Jacob Blake. That incident was captured on video. And despite the overwhelming evidence that this young man was killed for no lawful reason, they made a decision to not indict this police officer. We saw it in the Breonna Taylor case, the officers were not held accountable for the death of Breonna Taylor. I saw it in the Charles Roundtree case, 18 year old kid who was shot for no reason at all. No police officer was held accountable for his death. So we have a common theme, police officers are not being held accountable for these deaths. And the plea that I make, again to the commission is that we need you all, we need you all in the United States to come in. And to make sure that there is some transparency, there is some accountability, because as I say, these cases, does not just impact people of the United States, as you’ve heard the plea from Ms. Allison Jean, it also impacts individuals from other countries.

So I think you all have a vested interest to to make sure that we receive the justice that is needed in this country. And we all know that when other individuals from other countries are letting their voices be heard. We know that it makes a difference. And I think it makes a major difference when you start to say we’re not going to allow our talent from our country to come to the United States and have to leave in a body bag the way Botham had to leave, we’re not going to allow it. So I’m just asking you all to, for us to continue to brainstorm and to figure out what it is that that can make a difference. With these cases, I’m able to answer any question that you may have for me that we can discuss what was the difference was Botham’s case and how were we able to get an indictment in that case, and the conviction of murder in that case? And why aren’t we able to, why weren’t we able to get them in other cases? So thank you for listening to me.

Rashida Manjoo  37:15

Thank you, Mr. Washington. And thank you, Ms. Allison. Ms. Allison, may I first start with Ms. Allison. I’m really sorry for your loss. And the one thing that comes across very clearly is your your quest for justice and accountability, the strength that you display in in moving the legal matter forward, but also the political efforts that you have engaged in the efforts around memorialization of your son and the numerous activities that you’ve described. I commend you on that. And it it kind of goes back to the video that we saw in the first hour by Mothers Against Police Brutality. And one of the things that Ms. Collette Flanagan, appeals for in that video is the need for a national response, the need for national legislation, policies, standards, the need for national mobilization and movement building. In this particular sector, there are many movements in all our countries and different issues. And she calls for that, because I think the law, the legislative process, the judicial process is one element of justice.

But there’s also the justice with truth telling, with the stories with speaking truth to power and keeping memory alive. I think that has a huge impact on families and communities. And both you and Mr. Washington describe the intergenerational trauma that continues, the children of of people who have been killed, the communities that are impacted, the families that are impacted, and the law doesn’t necessarily have a simple answer on that. But I think if we look at these issues holistically, this commission, will have to look at the the issues of memorialization, reparations, etc. to address what people fighting this battle of trying to do is to keep memory alive to get accountability, but to also have the structural systemic problems addressed. So thank you very much for the work that you have done and you continue to do to keep memory alive and to assist other families and communities who are going through the same. So the question I have for you, Ms. Allison is, your strength has come through very clearly. And, you know, whatever the — whether it was your faith, whether it was your anger at the lack of justice, that you continued this battle, what do we say to others who, who might get defeated in this battle? Because the legal is one element, I’m a lawyer. So I understand that. But I know the human aspect of healing goes beyond the law, goes beyond what the judges tell us. What is the message you’d have? Because you took this on to ensure that there was truth telling, that there was some form of justice, even if it’s not perfect justice, but there was some form of justice. But what message do you have for people who don’t have the same voice and strength and faith that has kept you going?

Allison Jean  41:03

Yes, well, for me, thank you very much. I never knew that I could have been advocating for civil rights and all of that, that has never been part of me. But my son’s death, and what I saw was unfolding in Dallas, it appeared that they were trying to criminalize him. Because on the same day that we had his first memorial service, the news broke that marijuana was found in his apartment, it appeared that they were trying to paint him as a criminal to justify Amber Guyger’s actions. And from that day, I decided that I had to fight for him. Because I knew he was innocent. Botham never wanted to come into contact with a police officer. And he lived his life in that way. So my my advice to families is, despite your pain, and your anguish, remain focused on behalf of your loved one. I feel, I’m emotional right now. And I understand certain times, when families have to interact with the press, and so on, but I’ll tell you something in my mind, it is not the time to cry when I am standing and seeking justice for him. I spend my time crying, in my private hours in certain spaces. But when it’s time to seek justice, and to call for justice, we must remain focused, we must remain alert, the officials that we speak to, we need to ensure that we get clear answers from them. So just like the Bible says, there’s a time to cry. And there’s a time to seek justice. And we have to know the time for these two, because advantage can be taken of us in our emotional states. And so we need to know when to do what we’re doing on behalf of our loved ones. That’s my response.

Rashida Manjoo  44:00

Thank you, Ms. Allison. Mr. Washington, Ms. Allison has explained that this police person is going to be appealing, I think about her conviction and her sentence. So what are the chances of a successful appeal? And I know that’s a loaded question, considering judges and juries, etc. But there was something in the statement, I think the statement by Ms. Allison about the numerous failures of the police department everything from proper guidance to training etc. And that’s, you know, I’m sure that’s listed in the case documents. So the police, so it’s two questions actually. One is what are the possibilities of success of the appeal considering, the political climate has changed, you know, not only after January 6, but after the murder of others and the protests, etc. And the second question is acknowledging that there were huge failures on the part of the police department in terms of training, in terms of proper setting out proper standards and guidelines for the police in what they do and how they do their jobs. But the one point you made in both the cases, in the Jones case, and in the Jean case, is that the Dallas city police cannot be sued, although these people are acting within the course and scope of the dtheir employment. And you know, I don’t quite understand that, because when I think of someone acting in the course, and scope of their employment, whether you’re a police person or working for Coca Cola, there is a responsibility. Whether you’re a state actor or a non state actor, the state has a responsibility to act with due diligence to protect against and prevent harm. That’s part and parcel. So I’m trying to understand why the Dallas city or the city cannot be sued for compensation, or why an action cannot be brought against them. And please pardon my ignorance about American legal systems and laws. Thank you.

Daryl Washington  46:31

Sure, I think,

Horace Campbell  46:32

Pardon me for a second. We’ve passed the 45 minute mark, proceed please.

Daryl Washington  46:38

Sure. Let me answer your first question. And I always get myself in trouble as an attorney when I try to predict an outcome of an appeal. I don’t think it’s likely that there’s going to be any results, favorable results for for  Amber Guyger and her appeal, quite frankly, she was lucky that she only received 10 years in that trial. The judge let in pretty much any and everything that Amber Guyger’s attorney attempted to get in and I think that was to to protect anything on appeal. So I’m not as concerned about the the criminal conviction being overturned. The second question that that you asked me and again, I apologize. Can you just tell me what that second question was? Once again?

Rashida Manjoo  47:32

It’s about sorry, it is about state responsibility to act with due diligence.

Daryl Washington  47:37

That’s correct. Let me tell you what’s going on with the Dallas case. As to Botham, was killed by Amber Guyger. Amber Guyger was given every protection that that is afforded to police officers. She was allowed to walk around the scene. She was allowed to talk to members of the police union, we talked about how powerful these police unions are. And they basically told Amber Guyger what to do and what to say. She was given that protection, that’s how police officers are treated when there’s an officer involved shooting. We know that if an individual, a regular citizen kills someone, that they’re going to be immediately arrested. Obviously, they’re not going to be allowed to walk around the crime scene and they’re not going to be allowed to talk to people basically trying to get their stories together. So everything that took place, Amber Guyger was treated as a police officer. Later, what happened after the city made the decision, finally made the decision after the push by by the public, to fire Amber Guyger. Now all of a sudden, Amber Guyger is now considered as being an off duty police officer. And the city starts to argue that Amber Guyger was not in the course and scope of her duty when she killed Botham.

Daryl Washington  48:59

They say that Amber was off duty, therefore the city should not have any liability for that. The Magistrate Judge with that argument, and based on that argument made the decision to dismiss the city from the lawsuit. Now we all know that is not true, because when we talked about the Marquise Jones case earlier, and the fact that that same the officer was a security guard, and when he observed what he perceived to be a crime taking place, he now automatically becomes on duty. That’s why he was considered on duty. The same thing with Amber Guyger situation. Amber Guyger said that she thought somebody was in her apartment she thought basically that a crime was taking place. Once she makes that statement, she is now investigating a crime. She now has the ability to arrest a person, if indeed Botham was in her apartment. She was in her police uniform. She has a departmental Issue service revolver. So everything that Amber Guyger did prior to to killing Botham was in her work as a police officer. So for the city now to argue that she was off duty was a very weak argument. So we fought that issue. And we were, you know, luckily, that decision that the magistrate judge made to dismiss the city was reversed. But throughout this trial, there was a lot of things that were uncovered.

And one thing that has been common in a lot of these cases. Amber Guyger was not properly trained. This was not her first shooting, she was also involved in a previous shooting. But here’s what we find happens in a lot of these cases, officers shoot someone, and they’re not required to go to additional training, they’re not required to undergo any type of mental health counseling, they’re just placed right back on the street. And it’s just not normal to take someone’s life. And that has to go through additional training and then have to go through additional counseling. So those have been some of our issues. Let me tell you, one of the things that really came out during the trial, when Botham was struggling, taking his last breath. Amber Guyger was asked a question, Well, did you attempt to administer CPR?

She responded that she didn’t remember how to administer CPR. That right there goes with the training. And we know that in Dallas, and in a lot of cities, here’s what the custom and practice of these departments are. They shoot first and ask questions later, this is what happens. And we know the reason why there are so many unarmed Black men killed in this country, it’s because Black men, the color of our skin, will always be viewed as a dangerous weapon to these police officers. So as long as we’re Black, we are going to be viewed as dangerous weapons. And that’s it. This is the reason why in this country, and this is a sad but true fact. Armed white men have more protection than an unarmed Black man in this country. That is very sad. How can you say that? Say that, and it you know, people aren’t blown away. But we have seen so many incidents, where an armed white man gets to go home to his family, because there was no fear. And unarmed Black men are viewed as being dangerous. And here’s what I want you to know. Here’s one thing I can tell you, in this country, in this city, there is not a problem with Black men, killing white men. So we can understand why is there such a fear in these police officers? Why are they so fast to kill unarmed Black men? And the reason is, is because they know that it’s a 95% chance they will not be held accountable for the death of that person.

Bert Samuels  53:13

Miss Allison Jean, I like to just say to you, as a parent, as a Caribbean citizen, I feel your pain, try to feel it. But the question I want to ask, as you know, we are commissioners looking into the United States, what does, what feeling you get from St. Lucia, where your son has been interred? What’s the St. Lucian’s average view of this horrible incident, how they view the United States and the administration of justice and the risk that that men seated in their homes face?

Allison Jean  53:50

Well, every single St. Lucian that I that I meet, is just as outraged as I am some of them even more outraged than I am. There are parents who meet me along the street at the supermarket, and who tell me that they’re having a difficult time thinking of having their kids study in the United States. Of course, you know, in the Caribbean, we are a little limited in the opportunities for tertiary education. We have a lone, a sole University of the West Indies, and therefore the United States is an avenue that we have often used for academic pursuits. But there are a lot of parents who are saying right now that they’re seeking other parts of the world and not the United States. Because of the trend that we’re seeing, of Black men and women being targets. I am not sure whether Botham is the first Caribbean person to be killed at the hands of police in America. But certainly his death has impacted many citizens, almost the the entire country. And the response is very, very negative when it comes to the United States. In fact, my prime minister visited Dallas a couple of days after Botham’s death, and he met with the district attorney and the mayor and several officials in order to express his deep concern for what had happened to Botham. So from the very top of the scale in St. Lucia, upon our return to St. Lucia, to bury Botham, there was a national motorcade from the airport in the south of the island, right up to the north. Our citizens lined the streets for miles in order to reach us when we came in, and it showed their support for us during that difficult time. So to answer your question, my country has been heavily impacted by Botham.

Rashida Manjoo  56:30

Thank you very much. Mr. Washington, one last question. I know we’re running out of time. You have stressed in both the hearings, both sessions, about the the strength of police unions and the implications of that and the kind of collusion and protection that goes on. Is there any recommendation that you have when it comes to police unions? That might be helpful to this commission to include in a report? Because, you know, we you’ve spoken about the the jury system, we’ve spoken about the DAs. And the kind of enmeshing of legal judicial political elements when it comes to unions, police unions. Are there any recommendations that might be useful for us to think about?

Daryl Washington  57:29

Absolutely. They need to be abolished. I don’t — really truly I don’t see the purpose of them other than to to protect officers in bad situations. It’s, and there has not been a case that I know of where the Dallas police department, the union that they have, the union in San Antonio, Texas, or any union throughout Texas, where they have come out and voiced opposition to a shooting. That’s problematic. And again, you have to understand that they have a very powerful backing. And when they issue statements on wrongdoings, the public have a way of following them. So again, I think we need to figure out why these unions exist, and how we get rid of them because in a lot of cases, they are truly handcuffing chiefs of police throughout this country. We no longer have — we had a Black police officer, I’m sorry, Black police chief. When Botham’s incident took place, I truly believe, and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, I truly believe that she wanted to do the right things. But she also wanted to please the police union. And because she tried to do whatever she could to please the police union., unfortunately, she’s no longer the chief of police here.

So again, when police chiefs do not operate the way police unions want them to they have no value. And the only thing that police unions are designed for are simply to protect police officers, which is why I told you whenever there’s an officer involved shooting, one of the first individuals to arrive at the scene, police union representatives and attorneys there’s going to be representing the officer. That is very powerful. Can you imagine when you look at the video that was taking place? While Botham was taking his last breath, the union was already at that apartment complex. The attorney was already at that complex consoling Amber Guyger. Now, what message does that send out to the to the public when the individual takes an oath to serve and protect,  and we learned that that oath is to serve and protect each other, not the public and the only way we’re gonna have that, that oath that they have taken. The only way it’s gonna have some true significance is that you get rid of these police unions that are designed to protect each — the police officers, are not designed to protect the public. Because they are being paid by taxpayer dollars there, do they have a duty to protect the public, not each other?

Horace Campbell  1:00:33

Thank you very much. We did go over time. But I am sure that all were present would bear with us because the testimonies were so moving. So this concludes the hearings of the case of  Botham Jean. The hearings will resume tomorrow. Thank you very much.