A federal judge has ruled to dismiss charges against the city of Dallas in a wrongful death lawsuit submitted by Botham Jean’s family. Jean was fatally shot in his apartment by off-duty police officer Amber Guyger last September, who claimed she’d mistook his apartment for hers and believed him to be an intruder.
Jean’s relatives filed the lawsuit a month after his murder. Guyger was subsequently fired from the Dallas Police Department after an internal affairs investigation concluded she’d “engaged in adverse conduct” and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
According to ABC News, the federal civil lawsuit asserts that the city of Dallas, which employs the police department, should be held equally responsible for Jean’s death.
“[Dallas] implement the necessary policies and the (de facto) implementation of unconstitutional policies, caused Jean to experience an unwarranted and excruciating physical and mental anguish before his ultimate death,” the suit reads.
The city responded to the allegation last November, filing a motion to be dismissed from the lawsuit. The civil case proceeded alongside the criminal case, which concluded with Guyger’s murder trial this September.
Federal Court Chief Judge Barbara Lynn sided with Dallas on Dec. 23, dismissing the city from the lawsuit with prejudice. However, Jean’s family’s legal team filed a notice of appeal on Friday (Dec. 27), according to documents obtained by ABC News.
The family’s attorneys insist that since Guyger thought she was reacting to a crime that she was technically on-duty, bringing fault to the police department and the city.
“Amber Guyger was off-duty at the time, but it has always been our argument that when she took Botham Jean’s life, she was on-duty,” Jean’s family’s attorney Daryl Washington said. “She testified that she responded to what she thought was a crime and whenever an officer says they respond to a crime, they are considered back on duty... the Supreme Court has ruled on this before.”
According to The Source, Washington further said that receiving news of the dismissal was “very difficult” for Jean’s family, especially so close to Christmas.
“They know we have a fight ahead of us,” he said. “And they’re just prepared to do whatever it takes to get some type of justice for Botham and their family.”
Guyger is still named as the sole defendant in the civil suit. She is currently incarcerated at the Mountain View Correctional Facility in Gatesville, TX and will be eligible for parole in 2024.