The New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) is calling on the Dallas Texas District Attorney Faith Johnson to bring murder charges against a white female police officer who killed a St Lucian national in his own home.
CGID strongly condemned the killing of Botham Shem Jean, 26, who was shot in his own home by the police officer, who was still in uniform after completing her shift.
The police report that the female officer had just finished her shift and entered what she thought was her own apartment. However, it was the wrong apartment and when the police officer ran into a man that she did not recognise, she shot him.
Police would not say whether the female officer fired her weapon because she thought Jean was an intruder or for some other reason. It is also not known how she got into the wrong apartment.
A vigil was held outside Dallas Police Department headquarters on Friday night and CGID’s Guyanese-born president, Rickford Burke, said the officer’s “negligent, reckless conduct and depraved indifference to human life resulted in murder”.
He urged Johnson to “prosecute the officer accordingly and to the fullest extent of the law
“The culture of policing that has emerged in Black communities all across America is one where cops shoot to kill first, then ask questions after,” Burke said, adding “police officers are killing Black men while walking innocently on the streets, driving innocently in our cars and now while living innocently in our own home.
“This is too much for a people to bear,” Burke said, adding that his organisation, therefore, calls on the US Justice Department to review and revise the protocols for armed engagement by law enforcement in America.
He said CGID intends to write US Senators and Members of Congress from New York to push for a national review and reform of protocols on how and when law enforcement officers engage in the use of force.
“This is long overdue. How many more Black men must be killed before we take action? Politicians who sit by and do nothing about the epidemic of law enforcement murders of innocent Black men are equally complicit in these killings and should be held to account,” he added.
Dallas police said on Friday that the officer, whose name is yet to be released, fatally shot Jean, her neighbour, after entering his apartment, claiming that she mistakenly took his apartment for hers and that she was convinced that Jean was an intruder.
Police said Jean was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“We were dealing with what appears to be a very unique situation,” Chief U Renee Hall of the Dallas Police Department told reporters on Friday.
“Right now, there are more questions than we have answers,” she said, adding that she has asked the Texas Rangers, Texas’ top law enforcement agency, to take over the investigation.
She also revealed that Dallas police investigators were seeking an arrest warrant to charge the patrol officer with manslaughter.
CGID said the incident took place at South Side Flats, an upscale apartment complex located in downtown, Dallas, a few blocks from the Dallas Police headquarters.
Burke blasted the Dallas Police for not releasing details about how the officer reached into Jean’s apartment and whether a breathalyser was administered, as would have been the case with an ordinary citizen.
He also questioned how Jean’s name was released to the public when police simultaneously confirmed that the next of kin notification was not made.
Burke said Jean came to the US to study accounting at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas.
He also studied at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in St Lucia before migrating to the US, Burke said.
At the time of his death, he said Jean worked in Dallas as a risk assurance associate for the accounting firm, Price Waterhouse Coopers.
“CGID has called on all Caribbean American organisations and nationals to condemn Jean’s killing and to support and express solidarity with his family,” the statement said.