By Caribbean News Now contributor
DALLAS, USA — The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) issued a media statement on Monday regarding the “sad, perplexing, and horrifying case” of Botham Shem Jean, a 26-year-old citizen of Saint Lucia and the OECS, who was shot and killed while in his own home in Dallas, Texas, on September 6, 2018, by a uniformed police officer.
The officer, Amber Guyger, was charged last week with manslaughter in connection with the killing. In a statement to police following the shooting, Guyger claimed she arrived at her apartment building following her shift and found the door to Jean’s apartment open. Thinking it was her own apartment, she entered and saw a “large silhouette” that she mistook for a home intruder. She then delivered a series of “verbal commands that were ignored” before she opened fire, killing Jean.
Jean’s family has disputed Gugyer’s description of events, pointing out that Jean placed a red doormat outside of his apartment to distinguish it from others.
Chairman of the OECS Authority, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, emphasised that Jean had committed no crime, nor was he contemplating or conspiring to commit any crime.
“It is a great loss that we all feel, and for which we sympathise deeply with his family and friends. The people of our region, from the OECS and beyond, want to let it be known to the United States of America and indeed to the entire world that we stand firmly in solidarity with the family and friends of Botham Shem Jean, and with the government and people of Saint Lucia in their demand for justice,” the statement said.
“We wish to make it clear that our small size or perceived ranking in global affairs should not lead to false assumptions or conclusions about the strength of our resolve and determination in the fight for justice. We are dismayed by the despicable attempts by some to smear the character of Botham Shem Jean, and call upon the authorities in the state of Texas and elsewhere in the United States of America to work to ensure that justice prevails in this matter,” it concluded.
Over two weeks after the shooting, no statement has yet been released by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Meanwhile, also on Monday, the Dallas Police Department fired the officer who claimed to have mistakenly entered Jean’s apartment before fatally shooting him.
Asked why Guyger had been placed on paid administrative leave and not immediately fired, Dallas police chief Renee Hall said in a statement last Thursday that firing her might interfere in the ongoing criminal investigation. It is unclear how that position has changed in the intervening days.
While the OECS has called upon authorities in Texas and the US generally “to work to ensure that justice prevails in this matter”, Saint Lucia has thus far failed to do the same in relation to a spate of extrajudicial killings by the local police from as long ago as 2008/9, resulting in the imposition of sanctions by the US under the so-called Leahy Law.