The city of Dallas has won a small victory after a federal judge absolved the city of liability in the tragic 2018 killing of a black man.
On Sept. 6, 2018, hearts were shattered when the news of black accountant Botham Jean being wrongfully shot to death by a white off-duty officer in his apartment made headlines across the nation.
At one point in the murder trial for ex-Dallas cop Amber Guyger, she was asked to demonstrate how she held the gun in shooting Black PwC associate Botham Jean Sept. 6, 2018. A jury convicted Guyger of murder Oct. 1. (Photos: NBC News screenshot and Harding University)
The suit, which was filed a month after Botham’s death, stated the Dallas Police Department, “has a pattern, practice, history, and custom of using excessive force against minorities, including approaching them with guns drawn, when there is no imminent threat of bodily harm.”
The two-page order signed Dec. 23 by U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn, states the city was dismissed “with prejudice [meaning the suit cannot be brought again] for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
The Jean family, unwavering in their stance that adequate police training could have prevented Botham’s death, filed an appeal of the dismissal on Dec. 27.
“We feel that the city of Dallas should be in this lawsuit. Should be held responsible for the acts of Amber Guyger,” said family attorney Daryl Washington to local station NBC DFW. “To get this news the day after Christmas was very difficult for the family,” said Washington. “They know we have a fight ahead of us. And they’re just prepared to do whatever it takes to get some type of justice for Botham and their family.”
Similarly, in Los Angeles, a family has sued the city and the Los Angeles Police Department for what they’re calling the wrongful killing of 32-year-old Kenneth French. Off-duty LAPD veteran cop Salvador Sanchez fatally shot mentally disabled French in a Costco, also severely wounding the man’s parents in the June 14 shooting.
The French family’s suit alleges the officer “invoked his governmental status to influence the behavior of those around him. Actions of identifying himself as being a police officer throughout the incident was done with the purpose and effect of influencing the behavior or bystanders, plaintiffs and eyewitnesses.”
On Twitter, reactions varied from disappointment to a lack of surprise. Some even felt Jean’s family’s willingness to forgive prompted the city to be let off the hook.
“This is what publicly hugging and declaring forgiveness for murders gets you.”
“Wrong, wrong, wrong!!”
“Corruption, corruption, corruption”
Though some felt the justice system had already worked in favor of the family with Guyger being sentenced.
“Dallas didn’t kill him. A female cop did..”
“How is the city liable for the actions of an employee that is not on duty?”
“The officer is in prison. Suing the city is just an attempt at a money grab for something taxpayers had nothing to do with.”
Guyger, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, is now the sole defendant named in the wrongful death civil lawsuit that was filed by the Jean family a month after the tragic killing.