Man fatally shot by police officer mourned from Texas to St. Lucia
(CNN) — Brandt Jean answered the phone at home in St. Lucia when his mother called and asked to speak to his father alone.
Brandt, 17, gave his father the phone and left the room. He said he waited outside and heard his mother’s cries through the closed door.
“I never heard my mother cry like that,” he said.
She called to say her other son, Botham Shem Jean, had been fatally shot in his Dallas apartment by a police officer who mistakenly thought it was her own.
“I still don’t believe he’s gone, but we have to accept it,” Brandt said in a phone interview. “He was really inspiring. He had a positive mind and vibe.”
From St. Lucia to a small Christian college in Arkansas to the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Texas, the 26-year-old man is being remembered as a loving son and brother, a hard worker and a powerful singer who enjoyed helping others.
“Mainly, I will remember his advice,” Brandt said. “I would do stupid stuff at times and he would tell me what I needed to hear, even though it might hurt me, even though I might cry. He was real. He was down to earth.”
Their mother, Allison, a former Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education, Innovation and Gender Relations for St. Lucia, was traveling to Dallas on Friday. She had been visiting New York when she learned of her son’s death. Brandt and his father Bertram said they will go Saturday.
“Botham was a very wonderful young man,” Bertram Jean said.
Jean graduated in 2016 with a degree in accounting and management information systems from Harding University, where Bertram Jean said his son got the Arkansas school to send students to St. Lucia over the summer to do charity work.
“His faith was very strong,” his father said. “We will miss our boy.”
‘A truly special moment’
Jean was once asked to lead a college chapel service with an hymn that was unfamiliar to him, Harding University President Bruce McLarty recalled in a statement Friday.
“He told me he had never heard the song before, but that day, he called back to St. Lucia and asked his grandmother to teach him that old hymn on the phone,” McLarty said.
“So he shared it with us … that night, and it was a truly special moment.”
At the university, Botham Jean was a “member of Good News Singers, a resident assistant, an intern for the Rock House campus ministry, and a leader in Sub T-16 men’s social club,” according to the statement.
“The entire Harding family grieves today for the loss of Botham Jean, who has meant so very much to us.”
Jean was hired at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas after an internship with the company, according to his father.
“This is a terrible tragedy,” the professional services and auditing firm said via Twitter. “Botham Jean was a member of the PwC family in our Dallas office and we are simply heartbroken to hear of his death.”
Friends and family gathered at a vigil at Jean’s church, the Dallas West Church of Christ on Saturday, CNN affiliate CBS 11 reported.
“Botham loved mankind,” Jean’s mother, Allison said to those gathered. “Botham never saw color, never saw race. Botham wanted all of us to unite.”
“This world has lost a light in the dark,” said one of Jean’s coworkers from PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Questions remain about shooting
The fatal shooting happened Thursday night at the South Side Flats, where both Jean and the police officer lived.
Dallas police identified the officer as Amber Guyger, a four-year veteran of the department assigned to the Southeast Patrol Division. Guyger was involved in another shooting incident in May 2017, when a suspect took her taser, according to a Dallas Police Department press release.
The Texas Rangers took over the investigation from the Dallas Police Department to “eliminate the appearance of any potential bias,” the police said Saturday. The Rangers have postponed seeking a warrant on manslaughter charges — a move Dallas police Chief Renee Hall had announced — until they can gather more information from the officer.
“Right now there are more questions than answers,” Hall said Friday.
The uniformed officer returned to what she thought was her apartment after her shift and encountered Jean, Hall said. At some point she opened fire. It’s unclear what, if anything, was said before Jean was shot.
Jean was listed on LinkedIn as a risk assurance experienced associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Victim was approaching a birthday
He described himself on LinkedIn as a “young professional, engaged in developing a career built upon integrity, dedication and relationships, leveraging useful technologies to gain an understanding of and add value in a range (of) industries, striving towards leadership in my career, my community and society.”
Brandt Jean said his brother would have celebrated a birthday on September 29.
“He enjoyed working hard,” he said. “He would be deprived of sleep, of food, but he enjoyed staying up late and working hard every day.”