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Judge reverses previous ruling to dismiss lawsuit in Botham Jean’s death

Jean’s family can now move forward with a civil rights lawsuit once they file an amended suit.

Botham Jean The Botham Jean Foundation/Facebook

A United States District Court judge has reversed a previous ruling in the case of Botham Jean’s death, CBS 11 News reported. According to Judge Barbara Lynn, the victim’s family — whose prior lawsuit against Dallas was dismissed in 2019 — has another chance to file a suit against the city.

Jean was fatally shot at the hands of off-duty officer Amber Guyger in September 2018. The cop reportedly thought she’d entered her apartment and fired at the Black man who she believed to be an intruder.

Later that year, the Jean family filed their first lawsuit against the City of Dallas, claiming Guyger was inadequately trained to use non-lethal force. The judge, however, ruled to dismiss the case, prompting the family’s attorneys to amend the complaint in January and re-file the claim, citing information from Guyger’s testimony.

“She said that if you see a suspect, they’re trained at the academy, and you cannot see their hands, you are authorized to use force against them,” said Lee Merritt, the family’s attorney.

Now, Lynn rules that Jean’s family could move forward with a civil rights lawsuit once they file an amended suit.

“After attempts by the City of Dallas to dismiss the claims regarding its failure to train, discipline and supervise its police officers, the Court ruled on December 23, 2019 that all claims against the City should be dismissed despite evidence showing a pattern and history of Dallas police officers having killed dozens of unarmed individuals within the city in recent years,” Merritt said in a statement.

“After numerous objections, responses and appeals regarding this decision, the Court reversed its determination and indicated that the claims against the City of Dallas should proceed once an amended lawsuit is filed,” he continued. “This important decision will allow the family of Botham Jean an opportunity to once again try and hold the City of Dallas accountable for its failures in training officers on appropriate use of force.”

Guyger — who is serving a 10-year sentence on murder charges — recently filed an appeal to instead be charged with criminally negligent homicide.

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