Key witness in trial of Dallas cop who killed black neighbor, found shot dead
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Key witness in trial of Dallas cop who killed black neighbor, found shot dead

Joshua Xavier Brown’s testimony helped convict Amber Guyger, who received 10 years for killing Botham Jean after mistaking his apartment for her own

n this Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, photo, victim Botham Jean's neighbor Joshua Brown, left, answers questions from Assistant District Attorney LaQuita Long, right, while pointing to a map of the South Side Flats where he lives, while testifying during the murder trial of former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger, in Dallas. Authorities say that Brown was killed in a shooting Friday, Oct. 4. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)
n this Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, photo, victim Botham Jean's neighbor Joshua Brown, left, answers questions from Assistant District Attorney LaQuita Long, right, while pointing to a map of the South Side Flats where he lives, while testifying during the murder trial of former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger, in Dallas. Authorities say that Brown was killed in a shooting Friday, Oct. 4. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

DALLAS  — A man who was fatally shot has been identified as a key witness in the murder trial of a white Dallas police officer who killed her black neighbor, Dallas police said Sunday.

Joshua Xavier Brown, 28, was found Friday night in the parking lot of an apartment complex with multiple gunshot wounds, authorities said. Brown was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Brown lived in the same apartment complex as Amber Guyger and Botham Jean and testified at Guyger’s trial, where she was convicted of murder on Tuesday. The Jean family attorney, Lee Merritt, posted a statement on Twitter that said he had spoken with Brown’s mother and “she is devastated.”

“We need answers,” Merritt wrote.

Homicide detectives are seeking the public’s help in identifying suspects and a motive in Brown’s death.

Brown was a key witness in the trial of Guyger, who was charged in Jean’s slaying in September 2018. According to her trial testimony, she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own one floor below and shot him after pushing open his unlocked door and thinking he was a burglar.

In this Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, file photo, Joshua Brown, a neighbor of victim Botham Jean, is overcome with emotion while giving testimony in court, in Dallas, after recounting how he’d heard Jean singing gospel and Drake songs across the hall before he was fatally shot. Authorities say that Brown was killed in a shooting Friday, Oct. 4. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool, File)

Brown said he was in a hallway on the fourth floor, where he and Jean lived. He said he heard what sounded like “two people meeting by surprise” and then two gunshots.

At times during his testimony, Brown became emotional and used his T-shirt and tissue to wipe his tears. He said he had met Jean, a 26-year-old accountant from the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia, for the first time earlier that day.

Guyger, 31, was fired from the department soon after the shooting. She was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison.

The shooting that killed Brown happened at a different apartment complex, according to a Dallas police news release. That statement said several witnesses flagged down officers who were responding to a call about the shooting. The witnesses directed police to the parking lot where a man was lying on the ground.

This photo provided by the Mesquite Police Department shows Amber Guyger, taken Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Former Dallas police officer Guyger was indicted on murder charges Friday, nearly three months after she fatally shot an unarmed black neighbor whose apartment she said she entered by mistake, believing it to be her own. (Mesquite Police Department via AP)

Witnesses described hearing several gunshots, according to the news release, and saw a silver four-door sedan speeding off from the parking lot. No one else was shot.

Merritt said Brown “deserves the justice he sought to ensure the Jean family.”

Kimberly Leach, director of communications for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, did not immediately reply to telephone and email requests Sunday from The Associated Press seeking comment about the case.

Guyger’s trial ended Tuesday with a remarkable moment of forgiveness when Jean’s younger brother, Brandt Jean, 18, asked the judge if he could give Guyger a hug.

“I don’t know if this is possible but can I give her a hug please?” Brandt Jean asked Judge Tammy Kemp. The judge hesitated but said yes after Brandt Jean repeated his plea.

The two then embraced for nearly a minute in the well of the courtroom as Guyger sobbed loudly and a court bailiff looked on somberly.

Botham Jean’s younger brother Brandt Jean hugs convicted murderer and former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger after delivering his impact statement to her after she was sentenced to 10 years in jail, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, in Dallas. Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean, an unarmed 26-year-old neighbor in his own apartment last year. She told police she thought his apartment was her own and that he was an intruder. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

Brandt and Botham Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, said she was surprised by her son’s gesture of forgiveness.

“What he did today, was remarkable, and he did it all on his own,” Allison Jean told CBS News. “What Brandt did was to cleanse his heart towards Amber…”

Allison Jean added though that she did not want it to be “misconstrued as a complete forgiveness of everybody.”

“There is a lot that has to be done by the Dallas Police Department, by the Texas Rangers, by the city of Dallas,” Allison Jean said.

Botham Jean’s shooting and its aftermath sparked demonstrations and appeals for justice in a nation where white police officers who shoot people of color often go free.

On the night of the shooting, Guyger was still wearing her police uniform after a nearly 14-hour shift.

Jean, who was unarmed, was sitting on the couch in his apartment, number 1478, eating ice cream. Guyger lived in 1378.

Guyger’s lawyer had told the court his client had made a “tragic mistake,” but that she was not “evil.”

“I ask God for forgiveness, and I hate myself every single day,” Guyger said during the trial.

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