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(WFAA) — His friends called him Bo. And the Dallas Police officer who killed him did not kill a perfect man. No one is perfect.
But from every speaker at Botham Shem Jean’s funeral in Richardson on Thursday, you learned the 26-year old worship leader, aspiring accountant, and native of St. Lucia was about as perfect a son as you could find. And the death of this “prince of St. Lucia” as his uncle called him, set off an impact of “nuclear proportions” on his native island.
Mourners from around the word filled Greenville Avenue Church of Christ in Richardson to honor the young man gunned down by a Dallas Police officer in his own apartment. The female officer, arrested on a charge of manslaughter, says she was tired and confused and mistook Jean’s apartment for her own. They live in identical apartment locations – Jean on the 4th floor, the officer on the 3rd.
Investigators say the officer fired twice hitting Botham Jean once. She claims she thought she was confronting a burglar in her own apartment. She reportedly then called 911 for help when she realized her fatal error. “To know Botham was to love Botham,” said pastor Michael Griffin at the start of the nearly three hour service.
Pastor David Wilson offered a prayer for the Botham family and for a community rattled by another fatal police shooting. “Your people are hurt, scared, and tired, distrusting, disgusted and even angry,” Wilson prayed. “We need you to do what you do so well, and make things right.”
City leaders including DPD Police Chief Renee Hall and Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson sat in the third row. Speakers, who included pastors, friends, co-workers and members of his family who traveled to Dallas from St. Lucia, celebrated the life of a “prince.” That’s what his uncle called him.
“A prince of peace, a prince of the people. A prince of love. Faith hope and charity,” his uncle Ignatius Jean said. “Our prince royal was snatched from us by the trigger finger of one charged to protect us.”
Everyone who met Botham Jean considered themselves his best friend. He was described as a charismatic young man who began preaching in his native St. Lucia at the age of 14, found his way to Harding University in Arkansas where he became a student leader, worship leader and church song leader, and found a job at the accounting firm Price Waterhouse Cooper in Dallas where co-workers say he lit up their world with his smile too.
“He was truly a gift from God and our human words will never be enough,” his friend Alexis Stossel said “Botham meant the world to me.”
The Good News Singers from Harding University, the group he once sang with, offered songs while standing in front of his casket. And a family friend received a standing ovation when he said this. “Re-embrace the heart that God has put in us for love, not hate. And not overreacting with deadly force,” said Dane Felicien. “Botham Shem Jean was not a silhouette. He was a Godly man, a Godly man. Botham Shem Jean belongs to Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The officer told investigators she saw only a silhouette in the apartment that night when she opened fire.
“If a black man can’t be safe at home,” Sammie L. Berry of Dallas West Church of Christ said in the eulogy, “where can he be safe?”
After the funeral, the Jean family flanked by local pastors and their Dallas legal team offered one final statement – asking that all protests remain peaceful in Botham’s memory and that the family will continue to demand a transparent, thorough, and fair investigation. “We will not rest. This family cannot rest until justice is served and this offender is punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Berry said.
Botham Shem Jean will be buried in his native St. Lucia. He would have turned 27-years-old at the end of this month.