DALLAS - Following the shooting death of Botham Jean by the hands of Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger, multiple search warrants were executed at Jean’s apartment as part of the investigation.
Attorneys for Botham Jean's family are outraged that the document describing drug evidence became public on the same day of his funeral.
One of the warrants became a public record Thursday afternoon when it was returned to the judge who signed it. It was shortly after Jean’s funeral had ended. It listed several items found in Jean's apartment, including a small amount of marijuana.
There have been several warrants signed by judges and executed in this case aside from the arrest warrant for Guyger and the search warrant signed September 7 that were returned to the court on Thursday. The others are still sealed and not accessible.
The search warrant executed in Jean’s apartment at South Side Flats specifically sought fired cartridge casings, fired projectiles, firearms, ballistic vests, keys, evidence of blood, video surveillance systems, and contraband such as narcotics and other items used in criminal offenses.
The inventory return yielded:
2 fired cartridge casings
1 laptop computer
1 black backpack with police equipment and paperwork
1 insulated lunch box
1 black ballistic vest with "police" markings
10.4 grams of marijuana in ziplock bags
1 metal marijuana grinder
2 RFID keys
2 used packages of medical aid
The document does not say where any of the items were located in the apartment or who the items belong to.
The Jean family's legal team was unaware of the document when it was first released. Regardless of whose marijuana it was, the attorneys say it doesn't matter.
“I think it’s unfortunate that law enforcement begin to immediately criminalize the victim — in this case, someone who was clearly was the victim that has absolutely no bearing on the fact that he was shot in his home,” said Lee Merritt, attorney for Jean’s family. “I would love to see more information coming out about the warrants executed on the home of the shooter who lived just below him. I haven’t seen any of those. And particularly for it to be on this day the day that we remember and celebrate him... to see the common assassination attempt on the victim that we often see in law enforcement involved shootings.”
“It doesn't change the story,” said Daryl Washington, attorney for the Jean family. “She claimed that she went into a place she thought was her apartment. She didn't claim she had gone somewhere because she thought there was some sort of criminal activity.”
“I know because of how he lived his life it won't stain his reputation because he lived his life so virtuously,” Merritt added. “But it's unfortunate law enforcement has taken this turn.”
Attorney Pete Schulte, who is not connected to the case, says the defense will likely bring it up in trial if the marijuana turns out to be his.
“I'm not saying Mr. Jean is a bad guy because he had some marijuana in his apartment,” Schulte said. “But it could help add some explanation to this crazy case. It just adds another layer of complexity.”
Schulte says it's common practice for detectives investigating a case to cast a wide net when seeking a search warrant.
The request for the warrant does list a wide range of items — from blood evidence and keys, to video surveillance systems and "any contraband, such as narcotics, and other items that may have been used in criminal offenses."
Other attorneys not associated with the case say that specific language may have been used for items that were in plain sight.
“They do a broad spectrum of what they're looking for when they get these search warrants,” Schulte said. “Now toxicology is important, both with Officer Guyger and Mr. Jean, because it could explain how this case happened. How things went south so quickly.”
By law, a warrant must be executed within 72 hours of when it was issued. As far as the timing of the return to the court, nearly a week later?
“There's nothing nefarious about it. I think it just got done,” Schulte said. “They've got to get it to the court, and it got to the court today.”
Jean's legal team disagrees.
“This is nothing but a disgusting attempt to assassinate the character of a wonderful young man,” said Ben Crump, attorney for the Jean family.
There have been several warrants signed by judges and executed in the case so we could learn of additional items retrieved. It’s unclear if those requests included any warrants to search Officer Guyger's apartment as well.
Guyger did consent to a blood draw the night of the shooting. Toxicology reports for both her and Jean are still pending.
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