Police officer shoots 26-year-old neighbor dead in his apartment and claims she mistakenly entered his house thinking it was her own
According to law enforcement authorities in Dallas, a police officer who was returning home from work mistook a neighbor's apartment for her own and fatally shot the man she found inside.
Fox News revealed the identity of the victim as 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean. He was pronounced dead after being rushed to a nearby hospital.
Based on available information, the department now intends to charge the officer with manslaughter, according to Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall's statement during a news conference Friday.
"Right now, there are more questions than we have answers," Hall said, adding that she spoke to Jean's sister to express the department’s condolences to the family.
The officer's blood was drawn to be tested from drugs and alcohol and "we are in the process of obtaining a warrant based on the circumstances," Hall said. It is yet to be revealed if factors such as fatigue or race-based discrimination played into the shooting.
Investigators are "working as vigorously and meticulously as we can to ensure the integrity of this case and ensure the integrity of the department is upheld," Hall added, saying the identity of the officer, who was off-duty during the incident, would be revealed if she is officially charged.
The incident happened just before 10 p.m. CT (11 p.m. ET) at the South Side Flats, a coveted apartment complex directly south of Dallas' downtown, reported NBC News.
In an earlier news release, the Dallas Police Department revealed that the officer arrived at her apartment complex in uniform after completing a shift. Soon after, dispatch received a call from her about the shooting. Responding officers understood that she mistook the victim's apartment as her own when she entered the residence.
It is yet to be known what exactly led to the incident or what the officer may have said to the 26-year-old victim before entering his apartment. However, authorities have decided to pursue the manslaughter charge based on what they know.
Sgt. Warren Mitchell, a spokesman for the police department, said, "I won't go into that information right now. I mean, we have not interviewed her, and like I said this is just a preliminary statement. We still have a lot to do in this investigation. ... This is all we can give you at this time."
Until the investigation into the incident is complete with a definitive outcome, the officer, who was not injured during the shooting, will be placed on administrative leave. The investigation will be jointly conducted by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and the police department.
Jean was a native of the Caribbean country St. Lucia and often led worship services at the campus of Harding University, a private university in Searcy, Arkansas, from where he graduated with a major in accounting and information systems in 2016. According to the school, since his graduation, Jean had been working in risk assurance for accounting and consulting giant PwC in Dallas.
After the incident, the company said in a statement, “we are simply heartbroken to hear of his death.”
Allie Jean, victim's devastated mother, is still trying to figure out how she lost her beloved son. However, she wants to forgive the officer.
"She took away my heart, she took away my soul, she took away everything," Allie said while speaking of the officer. "He didn't deserve to die like that. We were very, very close. We would talk about everything, about politics. Botham loved everyone, and everyone loved him."
She said her son was an active member of his church and a good student overall.
"Somebody has to be crazy not to realize that they walked into the wrong apartment," Jean told NBC News. "He's a bachelor. Things are different inside. And if you try your key and it doesn't work, that should make you realize you're at the wrong apartment," she added. "Every door for each apartment is also numbered."
The incident shocked almost every resident of the apartment complex, which is just a few blocks from Dallas police headquarters.
Jeffrey Scherzer, who lives in the neighborhood, revealed that an officer escorted him to his apartment when he returned home late at night, steering him clear of a blood trail from the shooting.
Two women, who live on the second floor in one of the buildings near where the incident happened, said they heard a lot of noise that night.
Speaking to The Dallas Morning News, 20-year-old Caitlin Simpson said, “It was, like, police talk: ’Open up! Open up!”’
Simpson's partner, Yazmine Hernandez, who is also 20, was studying with her when they heard the commotion outside. “We heard cops yelling, but otherwise had no idea what was going on,” she said.
In a conversation with Fox 4, Richard Healy Nelson, who also lives in the complex, said, "[It's] super scary because the police are supposed to protect you, and then they come home and, you know, you're just hanging out in your own house, and then they come home thinking they're home or whatever. I don't know if she was tired, but that's pretty scary."
Another nearby resident, Tomiya Melvin, spoke to Dallas News. "It's terrible. I hope it's just a tragic accident and nothing more than that. This area appealed to me because it always seemed so safe, and so far it has been. But I won't be leaving my door unlocked anymore, that's for sure," she said.