Joshua Brown was gunned down in a drive-by shooting Friday, days after he testified in the murder trial of his next-door neighbor, Botham Jean, who was killed by a police officer.
Brown, 28, was himself shot and killed Friday evening at an apartment complex near Dallas’ Medical District, authorities said. Witnesses flagged down police, who found Brown on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
The shots were fired from a silver four-door sedan as it sped out of the parking lot, witnesses said. A preliminary investigation found that Brown was struck in the back and thigh, an anonymous government official told The Dallas Morning News.
S. Lee Merritt, a lawyer representing the Jean family, shared the news in a series of social media posts, saying: “We need answers.”
I just spoke with Joshua Browns mother. She is devastated. We all are. Joshua Brown was key witness in the murder of Botham Jean that helped put Amber Guyger away. We need answers. pic.twitter.com/5BCdkVXoQ4
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) October 5, 2019
Joshua Brown and the Botham Jean trial
Along with two other neighbors, Brown had on Tuesday provided key testimony in the trial of Amber Guyger, a 31-year-old off-duty Dallas police officer, for shooting Jean to death is his apartment on Sept. 6, 2018.
The case triggered outrage in Dallas and beyond largely because Guyger was a white cop and Jean was black. Many journalists, activists and Jean supporters saw the shooting as further proof of systemic racism against blacks.
Guyger said she mistakenly shot Jean after returning home late from a 13-hour shift and mistaking his apartment for her own. According to the police arrest warrant affidavit, Guyger recounted entering Jean’s apartment through the partially ajar front door and drawing her gun when she saw “a large silhouette.” She said Jean ignored her verbal commands and she shot him twice.
Brown testified that he had been coming home that night when he heard what he thought sounded like “two people meeting by surprise” in Jean’s apartment. Like the two other neighbor, Brown said he had not heard loud commands, like “Hey, put your hands up!” or “Show me your hands!” Then, he recalled the sound of two gunshots.
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This is an emotional moment in court where Joshua Brown talks about what he knew about Botham Jean. He breaks down and court has to go into recess. He was deeply effected by this murder. But by testifying that he could hear Botham singing in his apartment he undermines a key element of the defense. Amber claimed she shouted commands to Botham before shooting him. She didn’t. No one heard that. No neighbors. No passerby’s. Not Joshua as he walked down the corridor. No one. I just learned from the medical examiner that Joshua was shot in his mouth and his chest. He was ambushed at his apartment complex as he got out of his car and shot at close range. His mother asked that I do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of his murder. She suspects foul play and it is difficult to rule it out. He had no known enemies. He worked for a living. He was not in the streets. We need answers. Immediately.
Dallas County prosecutor Jason Hermus, the lead prosecutor in the Guyger case, said Saturday that Brown had shown courage during his emotional appearance at the trial.
“He bravely came forward to testify when others wouldn’t, ” Hermus said. “If we had more people like him, we would have a better world.”
Hours after Brown’s testimony, Guyger was convicted of Jean’s murder. On Wednesday, a jury sentenced her to 10 years in prison.
During sentencing, Jean’s 18-year-old brother, Brandt Jean, offered Guyger forgiveness, and, with the judge’s permission, embraced her in an emotional interaction that was caught on video and quickly went viral.
However, some commentators were unimpressed with the moment, taking particular issue with Judge Tammy Kemp, a black woman, also hugging Guyger and giving her a Bible.
How Botham Jean’s brother chooses to grieve is his business. He’s entitled to that. But this judge choosing to hug this woman is unacceptable. Keep in mind this convicted murderer is the same one who laughed about Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, and killing ppl on sight. https://t.co/Nu5QGOIR1K
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 2, 2019
Others protested what they deemed Guyger’s light sentence.
“That 10 years in prison is 10 years for her reflection and for her to change her life, but there is much more to be done by the city of Dallas,” Jean’s mother, Allison, said. “The corruption that we saw during this process must stop and it must stop for you. After now, I leave Dallas but you live in Dallas, and it must stop for everyone.”