Bermuda tribute for man killed by Dallas police
The family of a man shot dead in his own home by a police officer paid tribute to him at a church conference in Bermuda.
Allison and Bertrum Jean, from St Lucia, spoke about the loss of their son, Botham, who was shot by an off-duty female officer in Dallas, Texas, last year at the annual Churches of Christ Caribbean Lectureship, held in Bermuda for the first time this week.
The Jean family, who are church members, said that they had worked with Bermuda and international church committees to hold a tribute to Botham.
Ms Jean added: “Even during some of the lectures, reference was made to Botham’s life and Botham’s death, so he’s very much a part of the programme this week.”
Mr Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, died on September 6 last year after Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who lived in the apartment below him, entered the wrong apartment by mistake.
She later told police she thought Botham was a burglar and shot him.
Botham’s 18-year-old brother, Brandt, honoured his sibling by leading the conference on Monday in singing Just a Little Talk with Jesus — his brother’s favourite hymn.
He said: “It wasn’t easy because seeing people who love what you’re doing gets you really emotional, but I worked through it.”
Brandt added that his brother’s death had made him determined to live as full a life as possible.
He explained: “I don’t just see it as ‘yes, he’s gone, we’re going to have to live without him’, for me it’s more like ‘what are we going to do now’?
“He wouldn’t want us to stop working, he would want us to start pushing.
“That’s why I work harder — I try to be a lot more productive, because that’s what he would want. It’s kind of like he’s pushing us forward to do things.”
Mrs Jean, 52, was visiting her daughter, Alissa, in New York when she learnt of the shooting.
When Alissa explained what had happened, her first instinct was denial.
Mrs Jean said: “I didn’t think that it could’ve been Botham, because I never knew him to be in bad company.
“He even made sure he was impeccably dressed so nobody had any fear or negative opinion of who he was.”
She added: “When I found out later that it was in his apartment, I really felt that he was violated.
“I felt that an injustice was done to him because Botham was overly cautious.”
Mr Jean, 55, said: “Knowing, I believe, that he has a place in Heaven based on what he stood for, what he believed and his trust in God — that’s what really kept me going.”
The family were speaking after they delivered a talk at the conference, held at the Fairmont Southampton and which ended on Wednesday.
The conference, which started last Sunday, attracted about 200 Church of Christ members from around the world.
Mr Jean said the sight of his son’s body in a morgue was hard to bear.
He added: “I did not want to do that. I could not face it.”
Mr Jean said: “I held his hands and I passed my hand through his hair. I just couldn’t believe that was Botham there.
“It couldn’t be true because he’s so lively and active.
“But I told myself ‘yes, it happened. He got shot by this police officer’.”
Mr Jean said: “Botham would go out to the community and help the less fortunate, because he didn’t like to see people suffer. He always wanted to make people happy.”
He added that his belief that Botham was “in a better place” gave him the strength to go back to his part-time job as a preacher only three weeks after his son’s death.
Mr Jean said: “I had to do it for him.”
The Jean family started the Botham Jean Foundation in March, which looks to provide financial aid for youth and senior organisations.
The foundation also advocates for causes concerning stricter gun control, racial unity and an end to police brutality.
Mrs Jean said: “He always wanted to help others and he want to continue that legacy.”
Ms Guyger, who was dismissed by the Dallas Police Department after the incident, was later charged with murder and will face trial in September.
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