Police: Dallas shooting kills Harding grad after officer mistook apartment for her own

Posted: September 8, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

This Sept. 21, 2017, photo provided by Harding University in Search, Ark., shows Botham Jean leading worship at a university presidential reception in Dallas. Authorities said Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, that a Dallas police officer returning home from work shot and killed Jean, a neighbor, after she said she mistook his apartment for her own. The officer called dispatch to report that she had shot the man Thursday night, police said.

An off-duty Dallas police officer fatally shot a Harding University graduate Thursday night after she walked into his apartment thinking it was her own, according to the Police Department.

Botham Shem Jean, 26, died after the shooting, which occurred at about 10 p.m. in the Cedars section of Dallas, according to Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall. Her statement was posted on the department's blog at dpdbeat.com.

"Last night, a female Dallas Police officer returned to what she believed to be her apartment after her shift ended," according to the police chief's statement Friday. "She was still in uniform when she encountered Mr. Botham Shem Jean inside the apartment. It's not clear what the interaction was between her and the victim. Then at some point she fired her weapon, striking the victim."

Hall has asked the Texas Rangers, the state's top law enforcement agency, to conduct an independent investigation of the shooting.

Senior Cpl. Debra Webb said an arrest warrant for manslaughter is being obtained against the officer, whose name hadn't been released as of Friday afternoon.

Webb confirmed that the officer is white and the victim was black.

Webb said she couldn't comment regarding how the police officer got into Jean's apartment. Webb said the investigation is ongoing.

"Knowing Botham, I can just imagine him looking into the peephole, seeing the police officer and opening the door because he did no one wrong," his mother Allison Jean told NBC News. "He wasn't running from the police."

Botham Jean was from the Caribbean nation of Saint Lucia, according to his Facebook page.

He graduated in 2016 with a double major in accounting and information systems from Harding University in Searcy, said Allen Frazier, dean of the College of Business at Harding.

Frazier said Jean was "a very recognizable figure on campus."

"Big smile, always engaging," he said. "You never walked by him without talking to him or engaging in conversation. He wasn't one to walk by you and ignore you. Always on his way somewhere. Always doing something. Very active. Fun to be around."

Frazier said Jean was a bright student with a bright future ahead of him who had interned with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas before taking a job there after graduation.

Frazier said Harding is affiliated with the Church of Christ and the university's students do missionary work in Saint Lucia. Jean may have learned about the college through the student missionaries, Frazier said.

Frazier said Jean was involved with many groups and activities on campus, including the Good News Singers, a performance group that served as Harding ambassadors, who travel and help recruit students.

Harding University posted a statement online regarding the shooting that said Jean "frequently led worship for chapel and for campus events."

Harding University President Bruce McLarty asked Jean to lead the singing of a particular old hymn in chapel, according to the post. But Jean apparently was unfamiliar with the song.

"He didn't say anything about not knowing the song, but he had never heard it before in his life," McLarty said in the online post. "He came up that evening and was just smiling and excited about leading it. He told me he had never heard the song before, but that day, he called back to Saint Lucia and asked his grandmother to teach him that old hymn on the phone. So he shared it with us at lectureship that night, and it was a truly special moment."

Allison Jean told NBC News that she doesn't want to judge the police officer who shot her son but wants an explanation.

"We are Christian. We forgive," Allison Jean told NBC. "But I need to look into her eyes and ask her why she did that to my son. She took away my heart. She took away my soul. She took away everything. He didn't deserve to die like that. And the explanation does not make sense."

This Sept. 21, 2017, photo provided by Harding University shows Botham Jean leading worship at a university presidential reception in Dallas.

Metro on 09/08/2018