RICHARDSON, Texas -- More than 1,500 people gathered in Greenville Avenue Church of Christ to remember the life of Botham Jean. Many of them still have questions about the circumstances that lead a Dallas Police officer to shoot and kill the man inside his own downtown Dallas apartment one week ago.
Spiritual music filled the sanctuary as people walked into the church for Jean’s funeral. Friends and family say the 26-year-old loved being a worship leader. They say music was a major part of his life. Nearly a dozen people shared personal stories about Jean.
Jean’s parents and siblings were overcome with emotion as they entered the church and approached the young accountant’s casket. It has been a painful week for those who knew Botham Shem Jean. "To know Botham was to love Botham,” said Michael Griffin of Singing Hills Church of Christ. “He was the light in a dark room.”
A bus load of students from Jean's alma mater, Harding University in Arkansas, made the trip to attend the service.
It has also been a week filled with stinging questions for Jean’s family who traveled from his home country St. Lucia. His uncle says they are still wondering why a Dallas Police Officer shot and killed the man. Court documents show Officer Amber Guyger claims she was disoriented and entered the wrong apartment, believing Jean was an intruder. Guyger lived one floor below Jean in the South Side Flats on S. Lamar. "A nuke had been unleashed on our family by someone charged to protect and serve,” Ignatius Jean told the church as he spoke about his nephew.
Accountability was among the themes several passionate speakers mentioned during Jean’s funeral. His friend and business mentor, Tommy Bush, told the church how Botham aimed high in pursuit of excellence in everything he tackled. "Don’t tell me not to grieve,” Bush cried. “Don’t tell me not to grieve. I’m not there yet.”
As photos of Jean flashed across two screens over the altar, friends and strangers remembered his signature smile. They described Jean as a young, energetic, smart, educated, and talented man of God. Red flowers were passed out to people packing the sanctuary. Jean's uncle told the church it was Botham's favorite color.
As community members continue fighting for answers about Jean’s death, his pastor Sammie Berry from Dallas West Church of Christ called for accountability. "The apartment complex should take action,” Berry said. “The state of Texas should take action. The city of Dallas should take action. The Dallas Police Department should take action. The community should take action.”
The suspicious shooting death at hands of Dallas police officer remains a point of concern to many people who attended his funeral. Seated in the second row, Dallas Police Chief Hall attended the service.
Jean’s family is heading back to St. Lucia where they are planning another funeral service and burial.