A witness in the high-profile trial of Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer convicted of murdering her neighbor Botham Jean in his own apartment, was killed in a shooting Friday night, according to a lawyer representing the Jean family.
Joshua Brown, who lived in the same apartment complex as Jean and Guyger, was “shot several times by an unknown assailant,” attorney Lee Merritt said Saturday night on Twitter.
“His murder underscores the reality of the black experience in America,” Merritt wrote. “A former athlete turned entrepreneur — Brown lived in constant fear that he could be the next victim of gun violence, either state sanctioned or otherwise.”
The Dallas Police Department has not confirmed Brown was the man killed, noting that the victim wasn’t carrying identification. But in an emailed statement, the department said officers had responded to reports of a shooting at the Atera apartment complex just after 10:30 p.m. Friday. They arrived to find the victim lying on the ground in the parking lot with multiple gunshot wounds. Paramedics took him to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he died of his injuries.
“Several witnesses heard several gunshots and observed a silver four-door sedan leaving the parking lot at a high rate of speed,” police said, adding that there are no suspects at the moment.
Brown’s death came three days after jurors convicted Guyger of murder and two days after they handed down a 10-year sentence. The punishment — on the low end of the 99 years the former office could have faced — drew both protests from observers and a surprising act of forgiveness from Jean’s younger brother.
Merritt said Brown’s testimony was key to the conviction. Brown told jurors that he overheard Guyger and Jean’s unexpected encounter on the night of Sept. 6, 2018, followed by two gunshots. He cried as he explained that he’d met Jean only once but had heard him singing gospel from across the hall.
In a Saturday interview with the Dallas Morning News, the lead prosecutor in the Guyger trial said Brown had been brave to come forward with what he knew.
“He bravely came forward to testify when others wouldn’t,” Jason Hermus said. “If we had more people like him, we would have a better world.”