DALLAS – A white Dallas police officer who said she mistook a black neighbor’s apartment for her own fatally shot that person and will be charged with manslaughter, police said Friday.
It was not clear what the officer may have said to 26-year-old Botham Jean after entering his home late Thursday. But given what investigators currently know about the case, they decided to pursue the manslaughter charge, authorities said.
“Right now, there are more questions than we have answers,” Police Chief U. Renee Hall told a news conference. She said she spoke to Jean’s sister to express the department’s condolences to the family.
It was also unclear if the officer was in custody, though Hall said she did not know the whereabouts of the officer, whose name has not been released.
According to police, the officer returned home in her uniform after her shift. She called dispatch to report that she had shot a man, and she later told the officers who responded that she believed the victim’s apartment was her own when she entered it.
The responding officers administered first aid to Jean, a native of the Caribbean island country of St. Lucia who attended college in Arkansas and worked for accounting and consulting firm PwC. Jean was taken to a hospital, where he died.
Hall said the officer’s blood was drawn to be tested for drugs and alcohol. She declined to speculate as to whether fatigue or other factors, including race, may have factored into the shooting. She also said the Texas Rangers will conduct an independent investigation.
Authorities have not said how the officer got into Jean’s home, or whether his door was open or unlocked. The apartment complex is just a few blocks from Dallas police headquarters.
Residents of the apartment complex said they can access their units with a key or through a keypad code.
Jeffrey Scherzer, who lives at the complex, said when he returned home late at night an officer escorted him to his apartment and warned him to steer clear of a blood trail.
Two women who live on the second floor near where the shooting happened said they heard a lot of noise late Thursday.
“It was, like, police talk: ‘Open up! Open up!’” 20-year-old Caitlin Simpson told the Dallas Morning News.
Yazmine Hernandez, 20, was studying with Simpson when they heard the commotion.
“We heard cops yelling, but otherwise had no idea what was going on,” Hernandez said.
Jean grew up in St. Lucia and attended Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, where he majored in accounting and information systems and often led campus worship services before graduating in 2016, the school said in a statement. That July, he went to work for PwC in risk assurance. The company in a statement said “we are simply heartbroken to hear of his death.”
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.