The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., has called for an independent investigation of the fatal shooting of Joshua Brown, who testified against former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger. A jury found Guyger guilty in the 2018 murder of Botham Jean.
“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,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s president and director-counsel, said in a statement Sunday.
“We urge state or federal authorities to follow the trail of misconduct left by this case and fully investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr. Brown’s death. It is critical to public confidence in the administration of justice that witnesses who speak out against police violence are fully protected,” Ifill noted. “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.”
Brown, 28, was gunned down last Friday at an apartment complex, WFAA reported, just three days after Guyger’s conviction. Dallas police said in a statement that Brown was shot multiple times in the lower body. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins also clarified on Twitter that Brown was not shot in the “mouth or head”. He also promised that city and county officials would "work to ensure a transparent and thorough investigation of the murder of Joshua Brown."
“We are committed to solving this case and will work diligently to apprehend the individuals responsible for Brown’s death,” Dallas Police Chief U. Renée Hall said in a statement late Sunday afternoon.
Botham Jean family attorney on fatal shooting of Joshua Brown, a key witness in Amber Guyger trial: "The first phone call I got when this news began to break was from Botham's mother. She said she felt like her son had been taken away all over again." https://t.co/xmzxcpyfuzpic.twitter.com/ZM1S9Zsvne— ABC News (@ABC) October 7, 2019
No “suspects or motives” have been established for Brown’s killing.
In an interview with ABC News on Monday, Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the Jean family, called Brown’s shooting an assassination.
“I don’t think it was a random act of violence. Whoever wanted to kill Joshua Brown met him in his home, met him in the parking lot, without a dispute or argument, shot him several times and then fled the scene. That is an assassination in my book,” Merritt said.
“Whether or not it was related to this trial, I know from speaking with Mr. Brown’s family, that he had a great deal of apprehension about testifying at this trial, about the amount of exposure that it created.
“I’m not implying nor is there any evidence that law enforcement officers were involved in this murder at all, however they should be investigated. All leads should be followed thoroughly,” he said. “This will require a thorough, transparent investigation in order to win the trust of the community.”
Guyger, 31, fatally shot Botham Jean, 26, in his apartment in 2018. She claimed that she mistook his apartment for her own and thought Jean was a burglar. She is the first Dallas officer convicted of murder since the 1970s.
Brown’s testimony was critical to Guyger’s conviction. He said he did not hear Guyger shout police commands or warnings before shooting the beloved worship leader in his own home.
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren was among several politicians to raise concern about Brown’s death.
“I'm heartsick for Joshua Brown's family and friends. He bravely stepped forward and testified to bring some justice for Botham Jean, and peace for his family. We need answers—and Joshua Brown and his family need justice,” wrote Warren on Twitter.
Hedge fund manager Bill Perkins is offering a $100,000 reward to help find Brown’s killer.
“Every murder is sad. The particulars around this specific set of circumstances make it important that everyone learn why this happened irrespective of the outcome. Either way a killer needs to be caught & I wish in every case these resources could be brought to bear for justice,” Perkins said on Twitter.