‘God Gave Me An Angel': Botham Jean Memorialized Thursday

Family and friend memorialized Botham Jean in Dallas before his body is returned to his native St. Lucia for burial

Botham Shem Jean, the 26-year-old man killed in his apartment by a Dallas police officer who said she mistook his apartment for her own, was remembered Thursday as a devout Christian who loved to sing at church and always had time to help others.

"He was always in the service of others, even when it wasn't convenient for him," Alexis Stossel, a friend of Botham Jean from college said at his funeral in a suburban Dallas.

Tim Ryan, PwC senior partner and chairman, also spoke during the tribute portion of the service.

"Bo's positive spirit will not leave PwC," he said.

Ryan said a scholarship would be provided in Jean's memory.

Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall were in attendance at the funeral.

Jean's mother has said he was only a teenager when he presented a plan to evangelize his home country of St. Lucia. He came forward with a map of the small island nation, which he had sectioned off into pieces, and pointed to the communities he wanted to impact first.

"Botham did everything with passion...God gave me an angel," Allison Jean said at a prayer vigil last weekend.

According to court documents, Officer Amber Guyger, 30, said she mistook his apartment for her own and thought she encountered a burglar. Guyger was arrested Sunday for manslaughter and has since been released on bond.

Jean's slaying sparked protest and outrage, and became a flashpoint in an ongoing national conversation over issues of race and law enforcement. But under the lofted ceiling of Jean's church last weekend, the narrative centered on his life and legacy as attendees recalled memories of the man they knew as a passionate singer and caring friend.

Allison Jean said her son was about 8-years-old when he wanted to be baptized, but was denied by his father. Jean tried again a year later, again with no success. The third time he asked, Jean came with tears in his eyes.

Jean Family
Allison Jean and her son, Botham Jean.

"Botham said, 'Dad, I want to be baptized. I want to be a Christian,'" she recalled to the dozens of people seated in the blue pews.

She also remembered how Jean found his way from St. Lucia to Searcy, Arkansas, where he attended Harding University. There, he majored in accounting and information systems before graduating in 2016, the school said in a statement.

She told Jean to apply to the University of the West Indies, but also gave the OK to apply to Harding University, which was expensive. But Allison Jean said she later found the University of the West Indies never received an application from him.

Instead, Jean had his acceptance from Harding University and a proposal, saying the high price would be justified because he could receive an education while remaining within a religious community.

Todd Gentry, a minister at College Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas, has said Jean worked as his intern for three years.

"He cared about the Lord and he wanted you to care about the Lord," Gentry said. Jean, he said, made people feel important, whether it was with a cup of coffee or a conversation.

Jean had been living in Dallas and working at accounting and consulting firm PwC.

Co-worker Kerry Ray has said Jean lit up a room the moment he stepped in and described him as a selfless and caring man.

Jean leaves behind both of his parents, a sister and a brother.

“Bo’s family loves him very much. He was a good son. He also had a church family, and a work family," said Minister Sammie Berry, who hired Jean as the worship leader at Dallas West Church of Christ.

“Botham impacted everyone he knew,” Berry said. “He was so passionate about what he did, and everything was of excellence. If you knew him, you loved him. That’s the kind of impact he had on people.”

Jean Shot, Killed

Jean was at home inside his apartment at the South Side Flats on Sept. 6 when, according to an arrest warrant affidavit, 30-year-old officer Amber Guyger entered his apartment believing it to be her own.

NBC 5 News
Dallas Police Offcer Amber Guyger, mugshot.

Officer Guyger, who lives in the apartment beneath Jean, was returning home after a 15-hour shift with the Dallas Police Department when she, according to the arrest warrant affidavit, parked on the wrong floor. That mistake then led Guyger to enter the building on the wrong floor -- each parking level corresponds to the level where each resident lives -- and consequently entered the wrong apartment.

The affidavit said that when Guyger approached what she thought was her front door, the force of pushing her key into the lock opened the door -- which was slightly ajar. After entering the darkened apartment, Guyger told investigators she saw a silhouette move through the room and, believing she was being robbed, drew her weapon. Guyger said she gave commands that were ignored before firing, striking Jean twice according to the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office.

Only after beginning to provide first aid, while on the phone with 911, did Guyger realize she'd entered the wrong apartment, according to the affidavit.

Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedics arrived and transported Jean to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Guyger was booked into Kaufman County Jail Sunday night. She has since bonded out.[[493194611,C]]

Attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Jean's family, said the affidavit released by investigators earlier this week contradicts what neighbors said they heard that night.

"A witness heard pounding on the door prior to a gunshot, they heard someone, a woman's voice calling out 'let me in'. Shortly after that she heard gunshots followed by what she said was a booming male voice that she said 'oh my god why did you do that'," Merritt said.

Merritt added Jean had a red doormat outside his apartment door. "In fact, to ensure no one mistook his apartment the way this officer is claiming in this case, he went out and bought the biggest, brightest red rug and placed it right there at his doorstep."

Jean's name has made an impact on many as the story of his death in a shooting by a police officer has made worldwide headlines.

Guyger, who has been charged with manslaughter in the case, is free after posting bond. Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said the case will be handed to a grand jury who will ultimately decide if manslaughter is the appropriate charge or if a more serious charge, such as murder, is warranted.

Jean grew up in the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia before attending college in Arkansas. He graduated in 2016 from Harding University, where he often led campus religious services as a student. He had worked for accounting firm PwC since graduating.

NBC 5's Holley Ford contributed to this report.

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