On Thursday evening, a police officer entered an apartment she believed was her own in the South Side Flats complex on South Lamar Street in Dallas, Texas, and subsequently shot and killed a man she may have believed to be an intruder.
In a horrifying twist, the officer had actually entered the wrong apartment, killing 26-year-old African American resident Botham Shem Jean, reports a local Fox affiliate.
According to Dallas Police Chief Ulysha Renee Hall, the as-of-yet unidentified police officer called 911, and Jean was taken to a hospital, after which he passed away.
“At the very early stages of this investigation – initial indications were that they were what we consider circumstances of an officer-involved shooting. However, as we continued this investigation it became clear that we were dealing with what appears to be…a very unique situation. Therefore, we have ceased handling it under our normal officer-involved shooting protocol,” Hall stated during a Friday press conference.
Hall added that a drug/alcohol blood test was conducted on the officer, that a manslaughter warrant was being sought, and that the Dallas Police Department has “invited the Texas Rangers to conduct an independent investigation.”
On Saturday, the Dallas Police Department website released the following statement regarding the investigation:
The Texas Rangers were requested to conduct the investigation to eliminate the appearance of any potential bias. When the Rangers arrived, the investigation was turned over to them and they made the decision to postpone pursuing a warrant until they could follow up on information that they received from the interview with the officer.
The Texas Rangers will take the appropriate time to review the vast amount of evidence and information secured by Dallas Police Department investigators. This will allow them to be thorough in their decision as to how to move forward.
The Dallas Morning News reports that a vigil was held on Friday evening to honor Botham Shem Jean. Individuals held signs at the vigil bearing various anti-racism, “police brutality,” and “police terror” messages. Jean’s mother is quoted by USA Today, asking that the officer “come clean … speak the truth,” and she “will forgive her.”
State Senator Royce West notes that it’s difficult to know at this point if the crime was race-related: “Is this a white on back crime? Yes. It was a white, female Dallas police officer who shot and killed a person from St. Lucia of African descent. Is this a race-related crime? Don’t know. I would hold any type of decision you make on what happened until all of the facts come in.”