Amber Guyger found guilty of murder in slaying of church member Botham Jean
As the jury deliberated in the trial of fired police…
Ministers from Churches of Christ on Monday joined Texas lawmakers and the family of Botham Jean at the Texas State Capitol in Austin to promote the Botham Jean Act.
House Bill 929, also known as “Bo’s Law,” is expected to be heard in a Texas legislative committee later this week.
“Bo’s Law is about establishing systemic accountability,” said Texas state Rep. Carl Sherman Sr., the author of the bill and the senior minister for the Hutchins Church of Christ, south of Dallas. “Bo’s Law is about making sure Texans are safe at home.”
The news conference opened with a small chorus singing “Amazing Grace.”
Collin Packer, minister for the Greenville Oaks Church of Christ in Allen, Texas, said the proposed legislation is a bold step toward ensuring what happened to Botham doesn’t happen again.
“Though Bo is no longer with us, we believe this bill will save many lives,” Packer said.
Jean, 26, a Harding graduate and member of the Dallas West Church of Christ, was shot inside his Dallas apartment on Sept. 6, 2018, by off-duty Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who lived in the same apartment building. Guyger said she mistakenly entered Jean’s apartment, thinking it was hers, and mistook Jean for a burglar. Nearly 13 months after the shooting, on Oct. 1, 2019, Guyger was convicted of murder. She is now serving a 10-year sentence.
The discussion of the bill comes just two days after the unveiling of Botham Jean Boulevard in Dallas. The renamed, four-mile stretch of road was approved by the Dallas City Council in January. The road runs in front of the South Side Flats, the apartment complex where Jean lived, and the Dallas Police Department headquarters.
Sherman said there are four components to the bill:
Sherman said the goal of the measure is to provide transparency and protection for citizens and law enforcement alike.
During the news conference, Jean’s mother, Allison, spoke about the sense of surprise she felt at Guyger’s trial as she learned about the complex nature of the case.
“I thought it was an easy case because he had every right to be in the sanctuary of his home watching football and eating ice cream,” Allison Jean said.
She and her family fully support the bill.
“I see no reason why there should be opposition to a law that allows you to sit in the comfort of your home and feel safe,” she said.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said that Botham Jean’s death “highlighted an unexpected gap in our ‘Castle Doctrine.’ He deserved to be safe, to feel safe, in his own apartment. This law clarifies what everyone assumed already existed.”
State Sen. Royce West has authored a companion bill in the Texas Senate.
“When is it acceptable that a person can be in their own home and end up dead?” West said. “It’s not acceptable. No Texan, regardless of the color of their skin, regardless of their religion, should find that acceptable. What we should find acceptable is coming to a resolution to assure that it doesn’t happen again. Bo’s Law is exactly that.”
“I see no reason why there should be opposition to a law that allows you to sit in the comfort of your home and feel safe.”
Others speaking at the event included Sammie Berry, minister for the Dallas West church, and Jessica Berry, a friend of Botham’s and a member of the Harding University faculty.
HB929, which is numbered in honor of Botham’s birthday (Sept. 29), was introduced to a Texas legislative committee on April 1. The bill is still pending a decision with the committee.
Packer encouraged those in favor of the measure to call or write their state lawmakers, to testify before the committee and/or to follow Rep. Carl Sherman on social media for updates.
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