Joshua Brown, a key witness who testified against former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger in the 2018 murder of Botham Jean, was killed in a drug deal gone bad, police said. But some are publicly questioning that narrative.
On Tuesday, the Dallas Police Department announced that Brown had been killed in a drug deal and murder charges were being pursued against three suspects, The New York Times reported.
Police said that the three suspects traveled from Louisiana to buy drugs from Brown when the transaction turned deadly.
Jacquerious Mitchell, 20, a suspect who was in critical condition at a hospital, told police that a conversation between Brown and Thaddeous Charles Green, 22, escalated into a physical altercation. When Mitchell stepped out of the vehicle they were traveling in, Brown allegedly shot him in the chest. Green then allegedly shot Brown twice. A third suspect, Michael Diaz Mitchell, 32, was the driver, police said.
Assistant Chief Avery Moore dismissed suspicions that police were involved in Brown's murder.
“There has been speculation and rumors that have been shared by community leaders claiming that Mr. Brown’s death was related to the Amber Guyger trial and that somehow the Dallas Police Department was responsible. I assure you that is simply not true,” he said at a press conference.
"I encourage those leaders to be mindful of their actions moving forward because their words have jeopardized the integrity of the city of Dallas as well as the Dallas police department."
Police said they recovered 12 pounds of marijuana, 149 grams of THC cartridges and more than $4,000 in cash in Brown's apartment.
Brown, 28, was gunned down last Friday at an apartment complex just days after Guyger was found guilty by a jury of murder. Guyger shot Jean in his apartment in 2018. She claimed that she mistook his apartment for her own and thought Jean was a burglar.
Brown, who lived on the same floor, testified that he did not hear Guyger shout police commands or warnings before shooting Jean.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., had called for an independent investigation, citing the suspicious nature of Brown’s death.
“The circumstances surrounding the murder of Mr. Brown cries out for answers. Most importantly, it demands an independent investigation of how and why he was killed,” Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s president and director-counsel, said in a statement Sunday.
This feels like an inventive way to assassinate Joshua Brown’s character. What’s more unlikely? Guys driving four hours to buy weed, then shooting their dealer to death? Or Brown testifying in open court against a (former) cop who killed their neighbor, knowing he was a dealer? https://t.co/HlbifpCzIJ— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) October 8, 2019
“The suspicious circumstances of Mr. Brown’s killing should cause great alarm and demand an immediate and piercing inquiry. We echo Allison Jean’s statement that the ‘corruption we saw during this process must stop,’ and support her request for a comprehensive federal investigation of the Dallas Police Department.”
Lee Merritt, a lawyer who represented Jean’s family and began working with Brown's family, has called for another agency to investigate.
“It will be nearly impossible to conduct a reliable investigation in a climate where the investigating agency has been implicated in the murder itself," Merritt said in a statement on Twitter.
Others have also questioned the police narrative.
“This feels like an inventive way to assassinate Joshua Brown’s character. What’s more unlikely? Guys driving four hours to buy weed, then shooting their dealer to death? Or Brown testifying in open court against a (former) cop who killed their neighbor, knowing he was a dealer?” Rolling Stone Senior Writer Jamil Smith wrote on Twitter.
Outspoken activist pastor Bishop Talbert Swan expressed doubts, saying, “Marijuana was decriminalized statewide in Louisiana in 2015 to a $300 fine. Possession of marijuana was decriminalized in the cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. But @DallasPD is saying 3 men drove from Louisiana to Dallas to murder #JoshuaBrown over some weed.”