RICHARDSON (CBSDFW.COM) – Today friends and family gathered for the funeral of Botham Shem Jean, the man shot and killed a week ago in his apartment by an off-duty Dallas police officer who said she mistook the unit for her own.
Hundreds of people filed in to the service honoring the 26-year-old’s life and legacy. Jean’s funeral was moved to the Greenville Avenue Church of Christ in Richardson, to accommodate the crowd.
The viewing for Jean began at 10 a.m. and the funeral service followed at 12 p.m.
Scattered amongst the group of well-wishers was Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Bishop T.D. Jakes, and Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall.
Hamilton Landrum opened the service with a congregational song and then Michael Griffin, minister at the Singing Hills of Church of Christ, gave the welcome.
Griffin joked about not being able to pronounce Botham’s name and then quickly turned to comments about the young man’s character, saying he was “a light in a dark room” who truly loved God.
Griffin said the group should, “Celebrate the life of this young man. Celebrate the fact that God gave the world this young, energetic, smart, educated, talented, young man of God.”
Officer Amber Guyger is charged with manslaughter for Jean’s death. She is out on bond. Neither Guyger nor her family, or Dallas police officers who know her, are commenting on the shooting.
Jean’s slaying sparked outrage and protests, and has become a flashpoint in an ongoing national conversation over issues of race and law enforcement.
There have been a number of local demonstrations in the wake of Jean’s death. An estimated 100 people took over Monday’s Dallas City Council Meeting in vocal protest. Mayor Mike Rawlings temporarily halted the proceedings as demonstrators chanted “No justice, no peace” and people in the crowd repeatedly interrupted council discussions.
Jean’s family is mourning his loss, and waiting for answers. “I am still in denial. I cannot believe that my boy is not here,” said Botham’s father, Bertram Jean, who isn’t sure if he can look at his son today. “I don’t even know if I want to see him in that state.”
According to the arrest affidavit Guyger, 30, told police it was nearly completely dark inside the apartment when she entered, believing the unit to be her own home, and thought she found a burglar inside.
Botham’s mother, Allison Jean, says she just wants the truth. “One of the things I would like is for Amber to just to come clean. Just surrender, because given the person that Botham was he wouldn’t touch her,” she said. “Botham died in a way that he himself had calculated he could never die.”
Botham Jean grew up in St. Lucia, attended college in Arkansas and worked for the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm in Dallas.
A second funeral service for Both Shem John will be held later in the Caribbean, where he will be buried.