An Open Letter: Justice for Botham Shem Jean and his Family
September 15, 2018
This Open Letter letter is primarily for but not limited to:
Mike Rawlings, Dallas Mayor
Brandon Birmingham (292), Dallas Judge
Renee Hall, Dallas Police Chief
Dallas Police Department
T.C. Broadnax, Dallas City Manager
Dallas News Media
Texas Ranger Division
Faith Johnson, Dallas District Attorney
Those who act in silence
An Open Letter: Justice for Botham Shem Jean and his Family
I am appalled! American Betrayal is afoot, yet again. To the leadership and government officials of the City of Dallas, I am utterly dismayed by the handling of the case regarding the tragic, senseless, and eerie murder of Botham Shem Jean, by Dallas Police Officer, Amber Guyger. As a Church of Christ Minister, Bro. Botham Shem Jean and I are connected to the same spiritual community and serve the same God. This is also the case for his blessed mother, father, and family.
It was tragic to hear about the murder of Botham Shem Jean. In the media and through initial Dallas Police Department messaging, the killing of Bro. Botham was described as a mistake, an accident. There are discrepancies in published affidavits, warrants, and evidentiary reports connected to this case. It is said he was shot from across the room, but other reports indicate he confronted her at the door of his apartment. Mentioned repeatedly was that Amber Guyger was returning from working a 15-hour shift.
You already know this, but his funeral was held at the Greenville Ave. Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas on September 13, 2018. Despite being from California, I have preached in that pulpit before. Watching the funeral online, I was informed that both the Dallas Police Chief, Renee Hall was in attendance, as well as Dallas Mayor, Mike Rawlings.
On the same day of Botham Shem Jean being funeralized and buried, reports from the September 7, 2018 Affidavit for Evidentiary Search Warrant was shared with the public in such fashion. In what looks like a classic smear campaign against Botham, various items were alleged to be found in his home. I will not mention them here because even in the Affidavit for Evidentiary Search Warrant, it is unclear to me as if the items were found, just searched for, or if they were the alleged or presumed property of Botham Shem Jean or Amber Guyger. I could not find any information about a search warrant for the home or car for Amber Guyger. Rumor has it that she has moved out of her South Side Flats apartment, located at 1210 South Lamar. So, the home of the victim was searched and made public, but the residence of the person responsible for the murder was not.
The real purpose of this open letter to Dallas City officials, the Dallas Police Chief, the Dallas Police Department, Dallas City Manager, Dallas Mayor, and the judge that signed the warrant, is to express my outrage and that of countless others toward the fact that on the day of his funeral, information was produced to smear Bro. Botham Shem Jean. How much more disrespectful can you get? I am not entirely sure who is responsible, but you are in control of the city, and I am mystified as to how you could allow such a disrespectful occurrence to take place in such a high-profile case and during the delicate and sensitive time of grieving. The attempted actions to malign the deceased victim were intentional, grievous, and lacked any love and regard for Botham and his family.
From all revealed accounts, the character of Botham Shem Jean is clean and impeccable. His service on his native island of St. Lucia, Harding University, and the Dallas West Church of Christ is unparalleled as a 26-year-old Christian man. Every person that spoke at his funeral testified about who he was and what he sincerely meant to them. His family is beloved, he has contributed amazingly on national and international levels, but there is an attempt to tarnish his reputation and legacy.
I am aware of the victim-vilification that traditionally takes place when Black people, especially unarmed, are killed in America by police. My wife and family have personally lived through this. Who is responsible for allowing the irreparable stain to emerge out of Dallas? Who will apologize for the insensitive way the Jean family has been treated? Who will take responsibility for what has occurred? Botham was murdered, and now an attempt to assassinate his character is afoot. It is shameful, and I am unsure how the dignitaries connected to this case can sit back in silence and allow this to happen. In the attempted smearing of the late Botham Shem Jean, Dallas Police Chief, Renee Hall, what will you do and say to rectify this situation? If I am correct, you were at the funeral. How can the Dallas Chief of Police attend the funeral of the deceased while her police department releases insensitive information about an innocent man, killed in the sanctity of his apartment? Mayor Mike Rawlings, what will you do or say to make this right and bring about healing? The character assassination was done in public; thus, the apology and explanation should also be public. In addition to the family, the people of America and St. Lucia are due an apology and explanation of how something so egregiously insensitive could happen, and the steps you will take to ensure it never happens to another innocent Dallas victim.
As the Dallas City Manager, T.C. Broadnax, what will you do to resolve this situation? How will you make sure the character of Botham is restored, and the people that work for you and your city never engage in such behavior in the future? Judge Brandon Birmingham, how do you explain reciprocity? The only thing I have heard about Amber Guyger is that she worked a 15-hour shift and returned home in her uniform, mistaking the apartment of Bro. Bo for her own. Why is it that we know more about what was in the home of the victim than we do what was in the house, car, or system of the police officer that killed a man in the sanctuary of his home? Botham Shem Jean is dead, thus what is the point of mentioning anything found or not found in his home. It has absolutely no bearing on the case. Bro. Bo was killed in the privacy of his apartment. What was the logical point of the search and the revealing of the contents? Judge Brandon Birmingham, were you responsible or privy to the information being shared publicly? How do you feel about how an innocent man has been treated?
Chief Renee Hall, I called the Dallas Police Department several times on September 14, 2018. I had two questions initially. Did the Dallas Police Department pursue a warrant to search the apartment of Botham Shem Jean and did they intentionally share results of the finding on the day of his funeral (September 13, 2018)? At 7:06 AM (Pacific Standard Time) the first number I called was (214) 671-3345. I stated my question to the person that answered, and they fumbled around for a while, remaining silent, and then gave me the number (214) 671-3661. I called that number and left a message but also kept calling and finally at 7:20 AM a man answered by saying his first name. I posed my questions to him, and he said, “how did you get this number?” I asked him my questions again, and he said, “I have no idea.” I asked again, and he said, “I have no idea.” So Chief Renee Hall, whoever this Dallas officer/investigator was, at that time he intimated that he was not sure if the Dallas Police Department was responsible for pursuing a warrant or sharing information on the day of the funeral. He then asked someone near him for the number to the front desk and gave me (214) 671-3584.
At 7:23 AM I called (214) 671-3584 and left a message. I kept calling, and eventually, a woman picked up; I cannot remember her name. I stated my questions to her, and she directed me to a supervisor and said his name was Lt. Waddington (unsure of spelling). I did not realize it at the time, but she was directing me back to (214) 671-3661. I left several messages, but no one returned my call. Around 12:23 PM I continued calling. At first, someone picked up and immediately hung up. I kept calling back, and a man eventually answered. He did not give his name, and he was not the man I spoke to at the same number earlier in the day that wanted to know how I obtained the number. I eventually learned that (214) 671-3661 is the homicide division of the DPD. The man who I spoke to was irritated with me and told me to stop calling. He said he could not share information. I asked my questions, and he again indicated that he could not share information but that I could obtain the public record. I then asked him if he could answer my questions about the public record. At that point, he fumbled around, and I could hear someone speaking in the background. I asked my questions again, and he told me to call the Texas Rangers because they are overseeing the investigation. I asked if the Dallas Police Department or the Texas Rangers pursued the search warrant and he said, “the Texas Rangers.” Based on the documents I have reviewed it seems that on September 7, 2018, the Dallas Police Department requested the warrant to search the home of Botham Shem Jean, and Judge Brandon Birmingham, 292 signed it.
The news media must understand that some things are not worth repeating or reporting and when done, they become part of the incendiary problem. The fact that the Jean family attorneys had to address questions about the character of Botham after his funeral is unbelievable. The police are responsible for protecting society and not murdering them; this includes our character after death. This situation is beyond tragic and the parents, siblings, family, friends, and colleagues of Bro. Jean deserve justice. Additionally, they deserve an apology and explanation as to why there was an attempt to malign his character and humanity inexplicably. Organized by my wife, a few of us connected to the spiritual community of Botham across America engaged in a three-day fast, only consuming water, while praying for justice and resolve for the Jean family. The fast ended today, September 15, 2018, but our prayers, love, and pursuit of justice for Botham Shem Jean will not stop until appropriate justice is served.
As the Mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, you have a grave responsibility to make sure the people you have in position and power in your city, do right by the Jean family. This includes the Dallas judicial and law-enforcement system. As of now, what your law enforcement, judicial, and news media have attempted to do to Botham Shem Jean is an unrepairable stain on Dallas leadership that we all insist that you seek to restore. I am still unclear on the exact role of the Texas Ranger Division or even who the lead person is.
Dallas District Attorney, Faith Johnson, we ask that you try this case with the same merit and conviction as if it were a case involving a civilian murdering a Dallas police officer.
As Prophet Amos said, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
Dr. Ammar Saheli, Ministering Evangelist
West Oakland Church of Christ (California)