Botham Shem Jean/Facebook @FOX4/Twitter (Fair Use) Remix by Jason Reed

BTW

A local news station in Dallas felt the wrath of the Twittersphere after reporting a small amount of weed was found in the home of Botham Jean, the man killed by a police officer in his own apartment.

The news station’s headline that has many pointing to the practice of criminalizing Black victims of police brutality read: “Search warrant: Marijuana found in Botham Jean’s apartment after deadly shooting.”

Last week, Jean was shot by Officer Amber Guyer, who claims she thought she was in her own apartment and encountered an intruder when she opened fire and took his life. Despite the fact that Jean is clearly the victim in this case, Dallas police decided to execute a search warrant on his apartment and then released the information—including the fact that a small bag of marijuana was found—to the public on the same day as his funeral.

The release of this information would have had far less impact and implications had Fox 4 not decided to run with and publish it.

Nevertheless, they did and Twitter users were not happy about it. The backlash came swiftly.

Actress Holly Robinson Peete tweeted, “How disgusting and disgraceful and racist. Why do we need to know what he had in his apartment? What does that have to do with this woman murdering him in cold blood in his own residence?”

Another user rewrote the news website’s headline for them, tweeting: “‘Innocent man who was murdered by a police officer who unjustly broke into his home has his entire life dug up by cops trying to justify their actions’ is a better headline, try that next time.”

 

Other users pointed out the racist motivations behind the publication of such irrelevant info, concluding it fits the typical Fox narrative of vilifying Black people over police.

The implications of the fact that Botham Jean was a Black man, and his murderer a white woman has not been lost on the public. As previously reported, many suspected race had a lot to do with the fact Guyer was arrested not at the scene but three days after the murder, which was likely only prompted after public outcry and demands from the Jean family’s lawyers. Many have also accused Guyer’s family of being racist, which they deny, with a photo circulating of her brother-in-law, Noe Garza, making white supremacy hand gestures. Another heavily criticized photo captured Guyer’s mother in a shirt with the slogan “All Lives Matter,” which ironically is used to silence victims of police brutality seeking racial justice. 

As of now, it is unclear whether a judge ever signed a search warrant for Amber Guyer’s apartment. It is also unclear whether or not the marijuana found as a result of the warrant belonged to Jean. 

Tiffanie Drayton

Tiffanie Drayton

Tiffanie Drayton is a geek culture and lifestyle reporter whose work covers everything from gender and race to anime and Xbox. Her work has appeared in Complex, Salon, Marie Claire, Playboy, and elsewhere.