The preacher stood wearily on stage, wiping tears from his eyes. The mayor, working to bring healing to a city of 1.3 million, sought solace on a front pew.
Allison Jean, mourning the fatal shooting of her son Botham Shem Jean by a police officer, wailed as the 250-member, predominantly black congregation sang hymns such as “Trouble in My Way.”
“I know that Jesus—Jesus—he will fix it after a while,” the church sang.
Television and newspaper cameras captured the emotion—and heartbreak—as the Dallas West Church of Christ gathered to worship just days after the inexplicable killing of 26-year-old Botham Jean in his own apartment.
Congregation praise Jean as man of faith
The recent Sunday was no ordinary Lord’s Day for the congregation, grieving the sudden loss of a beloved song leader and Bible class teacher—and doing so under an immense media spotlight stretching from Texas all the way to the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia.
“Somebody like Bo—why?” church member Sherron Rodgers said, uttering the question on everybody’s mind. “Why did it happen to somebody like him? I’m just sad. He was a special, kind person who would never mess with anybody.”
Those who knew him described Botham Jean as a devoted man of faith with a “beautiful” and “powerful” singing voice. Baptized at age 10 in his native St. Lucia, Jean moved to the United States at age 19 to attend Harding University, a Christian liberal arts university in Searcy, Ark. He often led worship at Harding’s daily chapel assembly and served three years as a ministry intern with the nearby College Church of Christ.
Officer Amber Guyger, who lived in the same apartment complex as Botham Jean, was charged Sept. 9 with manslaughter and booked into jail before posting bond.
According to an arrest affidavit filed by Texas Ranger peace officer David L. Armstrong, Guyger worked her shift Sept. 6 and then returned home. At the apartment complex’s multi-level garage, she parked on the wrong floor and then mistook Botham Jean’s home for her own. After entering through his slightly ajar door, she confused him with a burglar and opened fire.
But for the victim’s mother, a former top government official in St. Lucia, many perplexing questions remain. The official narrative about how her son died doesn’t make sense to her.
“The No. 1 answer I want is: What happened?” said Allison Jean, who was joined at a recent news conference by attorneys and Allen Chastanet, the prime minister of St. Lucia, a nation of 178,000 people. “I have asked too many questions and been told there are no answers yet.”
At the microphone, Allison Jean was flanked by Botham Jean’s older sister, Allisa Findley, and his younger brother, Brandt.
Botham Jean’s death has refocused national attention—and even international attention, given the St. Lucia connection—on police shootings of unarmed black males by white police officers.
A group of Dallas religious leaders, including megachurch pastors Matt Chandler of the Village Church and T.D. Jakes of the Potter’s House, along with pastors Jeff Warren of Park Cities Baptist and George Mason of Wilshire Baptist, wrote a letter expressing grief over Botham’s death and calling for “fair, consistent application of the law” in the investigation. Guyger’s status as a police officer should give her “no advantage in the current investigation nor upcoming prosecution.”
“We demand full transparency, consistency, and integrity in the days ahead as the judicial process progresses,” they wrote.
A criminal investigation is ongoing. So far, Guyger has not faced disciplinary action from the Dallas Police Department for the shooting.
“An exhaustive and thorough criminal investigation is essential, and as soon as we are assured that conducting an administrative investigation will not impede on the criminal investigation, we will proceed,” Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall said.
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Source: Baptist Standard