Democratic Candidates and AOC Demand Answers in Joshua Brown Shooting - Rolling Stone
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Democratic Candidates and AOC Demand Answers in Shooting of Witness in Botham Jean Murder

Joshua Brown, who testified for the prosecution against police officer Amber Guyger, was killed outside his own apartment on Saturday

Joshua Brown testifying

YouTube/Dallas Morning News

Joshua Brown, a key witness in the shooting of Botham Jean by off-duty police officer Amber Guyger, was shot and killed outside his own apartment on Saturday evening. Guyger was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for shooting Jean in his own apartment when she mistook it for her own. Brown’s death comes 10 days following his testimony at Guyger’s trial and a mere two days after Guyger was sentenced.

Brown was “shot several times by an unknown assailant” in his apartment complex, according to civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who wrote about the shooting on social media. Brown, a business owner and native of Lancaster, Tex., who played football for the University of South Florida, was just 28 years old. Brown’s mother suspects foul play, Merritt said.

“His murder underscores the reality of the black experience in America,” Merritt wrote on Instagram. “A former athlete turned entrepreneur — Brown lived in constant fear that he could be the next victim of gun violence, either state sanctioned or otherwise.”

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Joshua Brown, the next door neighbor of #BothamJean was killed last night after being shot several times by an unknown assailant. Local media has reported on the shooting but have not confirmed Brown’s identity. Because, Brown worked closely with prosecutors just a week ago to ensure Amber Guyger was properly convicted in the murder trial, the DA’s office has fairly direct contact with Brown and his family. An ADA has confirmed that it was in fact Brown who was killed although they have yet to identify a suspect or motive for the shooting. The case is now in the hands of the Dallas Police Department. Brown’s testimony stood out as a fact witness who was approaching his apartment directly across from Botham Jean’s apartment when shots rang out. Brown was still visibly shaken up from the incident when he took the stand to testify on behalf of the prosecution. His murder underscores the reality of the black experience in America. A former athlete turned entrepreneur— Brown lived in constant fear that he could be the next victim of gun violence, either state sanctioned or otherwise. We have more work to do deal with the constant threats to our community both from within and without. Brown deserves the same justice he sought to ensure the Jean family. The Dallas County criminal justice system must mobilized to identify his killer and see that he is held accountable for this murder.

A post shared by S. Lee Merritt, Esquire (@leemerrittesq) on

“Several witnesses heard several gunshots and observed a silver four-door sedan leaving the parking lot at a high rate of speed,” police said in a statement, though they refused to confirm whether it was Brown who was shot, saying the victim was not carrying identification.

Brown said he had only met Jean earlier on the day he was shot, but that he had often heard him singing in his apartment. But his emotional testimony in Guyger’s trial was pivotal, as he said he overheard a loud confrontation between Guyger and Jean but reported that he did not hear any police commands, which Guyger later claimed she had made and which were a crucial part of her defense.

“Brown’s testimony stood out as a fact witness who was approaching his apartment directly across from Botham Jean’s apartment when shots rang out. Brown was still visibly shaken up from the incident when he took the stand to testify on behalf of the prosecution,” Merritt said.

Democratic politicians came forward on Twitter to demand justice for Brown. “Horrific and deeply troubling,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said of the news of the shooting on Twitter. “Sending love and prayers to Joshua Brown’s family. They deserve the justice he ensured for Botham, and we all deserve answers immediately.”

“Joshua Brown bravely stood up to injustice and helped put Amber Guyger behind bars. Three days later, he was murdered by an unknown assailant,” Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro wrote on Twitter. “We grieve with his family and friends, and demand a transparent investigation the people of Dallas can trust.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) demanded answers. Harris wrote: “Joshua Brown’s selflessness and courage brought some justice for his neighbor Botham Jean. We grieve again learning of Joshua’s murder. I pray for his family, his community, and all those impacted by this tragedy. We demand answers.”

Warren tweeted, “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.”

And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said, “Just when we caught a glimpse of justice for Botham Jean, much of it feels stolen back with the murder of Joshua Brown, a key witness in the case. My heart breaks for his family and for everyone touched by this tragedy. We must get to the bottom of this injustice.”

As for Brown’s family, according to Merritt, Brown’s mother “suspects foul play and it is difficult to rule it out.” Merritt added, “He had no known enemies. He worked for a living. He was not in the streets. We need answers. Immediately.”

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