Witness whose evidence helped convict police officer over murder of black man is shot dead days after verdict

Joshua Brown, who was praised for his courage in coming forward to give evidence, is shot dead in Dallas

Phil Thomas
New York
Sunday 06 October 2019 17:15
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Brother of murdered black man Botham Jean hugs killer Amber Guyer as he forgives her in court

A key witness in the trial of a former Dallas police officer who murdered an unarmed black man in his own apartment has himself been shot dead, days after his emotional testimony helped convict her.

Joshua Brown lived in the same block as Amber Guyger, who was jailed for 10 years last week for the murder of another neighbour, Botham Jean. She had shot him in his own home, later claiming she mistakenly thought it was her apartment and that he was an intruder.

Mr Brown had wiped away tears with his T-shirt as he gave evidence during her trial, describing how he heard what sounded like “two people meeting by surprise” followed by two gunshots.

Now the Dallas Morning News has reported that Mr Brown himself has himself been killed after being shot in the back and thigh.

The 28-year-old was reportedly found with gunshot wounds on Friday night and taken to hospital where he died of his injuries.

There have been no arrests in connection with his shooting and there was no immediate word on the motive.

The paper reported that witnesses said they had heard several gunshots and then seen a silver-coloured car speeding away from a car park.

Jason Hermus, a Dallas County prosecutor, praised Mr Brown for having had the courage to give evidence, saying: “He bravely came forward to testify when others wouldn’t. If we had more people like him, we would have a better world.”

Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney who represents the family of Mr Jean, said that Mr Brown was a former athlete who had become an entrepreneur, saying on Facebook that his death “underscores the reality of the black experience in America”.

Joshua Brown giving evidence during the trial of Amber Guyger for the murder of Botham Jean

The Guyger case attracted attention for being the latest incident in which a white police officer killed an unarmed black victim.

Civil rights activists reacted positively to the guilty verdict but there was criticism of the 10-year sentence handed down - prosecutors had called for a much longer jail term, especially since Guyger had a history of making racist comments.

Following the guilty verdict, Mr Jean’s brother Brandt said he did not want Guyger to go to jail and that he forgave her, before hugging her in court.

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