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Congregation Remembers Botham Jean

Sep 13, 2018
Originally published on September 13, 2018 11:05 am
Copyright 2018 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Funeral services come today in Texas for Botham Jean, a black man who was shot and killed by a white Dallas police officer. She says she entered the wrong apartment. She's been charged with manslaughter. Today members of Jean's congregation say they want to focus on Botham Jean's life. From our member station KERA in Dallas, Rachel Osier Lindley reports.

RACHEL OSIER LINDLEY, BYLINE: Singing in the church was always part of Botham Jean's life. First, growing up in St. Lucia, then in college in Arkansas as a member of Harding University's Christian a cappella group and, for the past two years, at Dallas West Church of Christ, where friends called him Bo.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DALLAS WEST CHURCH OF CHRIST CHOIR: (Singing) Let the spirit of the Lord - just let it rise among us. Let the praises of our king...

JEREMY BONNER: The last Sunday that we were privileged to be in Bo's presence, he led a song called "Let It Rise."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DALLAS WEST CHURCH OF CHRIST CHOIR: (Singing) You've got to let it rise and sing, oh, Lord...

OSIER LINDLEY: Jeremy Bonner is a fellow worship leader in the Dallas church.

BONNER: He had the type of spirit that was very humble. Although he was a good singer and a very good song leader, he didn't allow that to make him haughty or proud.

OSIER LINDLEY: Dallas West member Jessica Berry also attended Harding, and the two struck up a friendship.

JESSICA BERRY: He was all about action. He was passionate. And he didn't settle for mediocrity at all. And you could hear that in his voice every time.

OSIER LINDLEY: The congregation's close-knit. And Jean was known for his helpful and loving nature.

J. BERRY: You felt like you could connect with him. No matter how old you were, what walk of life that you had, you knew that you were special to Botham in that moment whenever y'all met. And that's the person that Botham was.

OSIER LINDLEY: His death has sparked outrage and raised many questions. In an arrest affidavit, Officer Amber Guyger claims she mistakenly entered Jean's apartment and thought he was an intruder. Lawyers for Jean's family dispute Guyger's story. The goal today, though, is celebration. Sammie Berry is a minister at Dallas West Church. He says the message will be one of care, one of love and one of hope.

SAMMIE BERRY: We're going to let the world know that he was an outstanding black man having an impact. We're going to also present a spirit of forgiveness. But in that spirit of forgiveness, we want justice as well.

OSIER LINDLEY: The investigation is ongoing. The case will eventually be sent to a grand jury.

For NPR News, I'm Rachel Osier Lindley in Dallas.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHITA'S "MIZORE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.