Dallas PD investigating case of off-duty cop who entered wrong apartment, shot man

"We will find out exactly what happened," Mayor Mike Rawlings pledged


By Jennifer Emily
The Dallas Morning News

Updated 1:30 p.m. Saturday: This story has been updated with additional comments from Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and comments from Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata and Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall.

DALLAS — Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said Saturday he supports Police Chief U. Renee Hall's handling of the investigation into one of her officers who killed a man after she mistakenly entered his apartment instead of her own.

"It's important that the citizens know that I believe what Chief Hall has done has been exactly the right thing. This is a tough situation," Rawlings said at a news conference at Paul Quinn College.  "For anyone that questions whether we're going to get to the truth of this, there should be no doubters. We will find out exactly what happened."

The officer, whose name has not been publicly released, has not been formally charged. But police have said they are seeking an arrest warrant for manslaughter in the death of Botham Jean, 26. 

Hall said Saturday that a judge had not signed a warrant because Texas Rangers who are interviewing the officer have learned new information and want to investigate further before a warrant is issued.

She declined to explain the new information.

The officer's attorney declined to comment Saturday.

The officer was off-duty but still in full uniform after working a full shift when she arrived at the apartment complex Thursday night, police said. She mistakenly thought Jean's apartment was her own and upon encountering him fatally shot the Pricewaterhouse Coopers employee. 

 

The officer, who has been with the department five years, wasn't injured. Authorities said more police arrived within four minutes after the shooting was reported. He was pronounced dead at Baylor University Medical Center.

The Texas Rangers are investigating the shooting, but there was no law enforcement presence visible Saturday at the apartment complex.

Although the apartments in the sprawling complex have identical gray paint, silver peepholes and electric locks, Jean's had a distinctive red doormat in front of it. Each apartment also is identified by its number in lights on the wall alongside a tan door.

Typically, Dallas police investigate a shooting by one of its own officers. But Hall said Saturday that she and her department will no longer have roles in the criminal investigation. She declined to say whether the department is conducting a parallel investigation.

The chief said there should be "no secrets" about what happened.

"There is no blue line; those things cannot exist," she said. "I want you to hold me and my organization accountable for what we're supposed to be doing."

Rawlings called Hall "foresighted" for asking the Texas Rangers to investigate.

Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata called Saturday for "an open, transparent, full investigation of the event and if the grand jury deems necessary, this officer should have to answer for her actions in a court of law in Dallas County."

He said the officer who killed Jean "is a young dedicated officer who has done an amazing job in her short time with the Dallas Police Department."

But he also had kind words for Jean, a native of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean.

"Mr. Jean was an amazing individual, and he is what us as parents hope our children turn out to be," he said.

The mayor said he'd met with the slain man's relatives Saturday morning. Calling them remarkable, he said Jean's mother had told him her son "loved everybody," and how "he didn't really see color in what he was doing."

Rawlings said Jean "was exactly the sort of citizen we want to have in the city of Dallas."

When the Trump administration imposed a travel ban that stranded many immigrants at airports across the United States, Jean delivered water to protesters at DFW International Airport.

"Not only has he lost his life, but we've lost a potential leader for this city for decades to come," the mayor said.

He called Jean's mother "amazingly graceful."

"She wasn't wagging her finger at anybody. She was saying, 'What happened?'" Rawlings said.

He said she told him: "I'm not angry. I'm heartbroken. And I just want to make sure all the truth is told."

Rawlings said he'd also offered his condolences to Saint Lucia's prime minister, who will visit Dallas this week to meet with him.

"I do know that I can choose what attitude I take about things going forward, and we can hopefully, hopefully turn that positive spirit that Botham had into a thing that makes us a better city," he said. "It doesn't look like we can right now because it's so painful and it looks problematic, but that's what his mother wants."

State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, asked people to keep Jean's family in their prayers.

"Is this a race-related crime? Don't know. There's a lot of questions that are still out there," said West, who also attended Saturday's news conference. "So I would hold any type of decision that you make concerning what transpired until all of the facts come in."

Jean was black and the officer is white.

West said he wants the officer to face appropriate charges and expressed confidence in the Texas Rangers as he called on them to "leave no stone unturned."

The Dallas County district attorney's office is also conducting an independent investigation, as it always does with shootings by officers.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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