Botham Shem Jean
September 29, 1991
September 6, 2018
Age at Death:
Botham Jean was born to his mother, Allison, and father, Bertrum Jean, in Castries, Saint Lucia, an island in the eastern Caribbean. His friends called him “Bo.” He had an older sister, Allisa Findley, and younger brother, Brandt Jean. At an early age, Mr. Jean was self-assured and ready to dedicate himself to Christ, his mother said as she recalled memories of her son at a vigil. At age 8 he approached his parents and first asked to be baptized. “His dad said, ‘No, you’re too young. Do you know exactly what you’re doing?’” He came back to his parents again at the age of 9, “Dad, I want to be baptized.” It took two years of persistence before Jean was baptized at the age of 10. He began preaching as a teenager. He was a perfectionist, always with a plan. He attended Harding University, a private Christian school, in Searcy, Arkansas. Every year he attended Harding, Mr. Jean would return to Saint Lucia with classmates to show them his birthplace and give back to his community. During those visits, he would volunteer, working with at-risk youth and visiting the Saint Lucia orphanage. After graduation, he was hired as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas and found a new place of worship where he was a song leader. His death left a major impact, with over 1,500 attendees at his funeral, a foundation set up in his name and a scholarship in his name set up by both Harding University and his employer, Price Waterhouse.
Mr. Jean was at home in the evening when an off duty police officer entered his apartment, mistakenly, through the slightly open front door of his apartment and shot him thinking he was a burglar in her apartment, which was one floor below his. The shooting resulted in a significant response from the Dallas community as the white, female police officer was not arrested for several days, and then only charged with manslaughter, creating mistrust in the process and outrage over the killing of an unarmed black citizen. She was brought to trial and eventually convicted for murder, not manslaughter. Her attorneys filed an appeal of the conviction on the grounds "there was insufficient evidence to convict her of murder. The court convicted her of criminally negligent homicide (manslaughter), and she is serving her 10 year sentence." The case drew widespread criticism because Mr. Jean's reputation was maligned in the media, a key witness was shot to death later and the tremendous public response due to social media.
Was justice served?
Yes. A significant effort was put forth to gather enough evidence to try and convict the officer - and she has an appeal scheduled to be heard, the week of 4/30/21. Her appeal is that the conviction should not have been for murder but the lesser offense of criminally negligent homicide. It is noteworthy that the family of Mr. Jean offered public forgiveness of the officer during the decision phase of the trial.