UPDATED: 1:44 p.m. EDT —
Dallas police have made an arrest in the killing of a key witness in the Amber Guyger murder trial. According to the lawyer representing the family of Joshua Brown, a 28-year-old was reportedly forced to testify under the threat of imprisonment, one person was taken into custody on Tuesday for the shooting death on Friday.
S. Lee Merritt also tweeted that police believe there were two other suspects involved in Brown’s killing.
Brown offered testimony that prosecutors said was crucial to securing a conviction for Guyger, who shot and killed Botham Jean, an innocent and unarmed Black man, in his home last year. Brown lived across the hall from Jean at the time of the shooting and contradicted defense attorneys and Guyger’s own assertion that the former police officer issued loud verbal commands to Jean before she killed him on Sept. 6, 2018.
Days after the tragic murder of Joshua Brown, the lawyer representing his family said the key witness for prosecutors in the Amber Guyger trial may have feared for his safety ahead of the case and refused to testify.
Attorney S. Lee Merritt posted a damning video to Twitter Tuesday morning showing now-disgraced Judge Tammy Kemp speaking after Brown’s testimony. According to Merritt, Brown asked to be excused to which Kemp responded, “of course.” A short time after, the judge can be heard whispering in the video, “I’m surprised he came.”
In the tweet, Merritt also wrote that prior to the trial, Brown fled from Dallas to California in fear for his safety, but was “threatened” with jail time by prosecutors if he did not return to testify.
“The State knew Joshua Brown didn’t want to testify due to concerns for his safety,” Merritt wrote. “He flew to California when the trial began. They threatened him with jail if he didn’t return. He went straight from the airport to the court. Dallas County has a duty to protect him. They failed.”
On Saturday, Merritt announced on Instagram that Brown had been shot and killed on Friday night by an unknown shooter. He also revealed on social media that the 28-year-old father was “ambushed” as he exited his car and sustained gunshot wounds to the mouth and chest.
“Joshua Brown was shot in his mouth & chest. He was exiting his car at his apt when he was ambushed & shot at close range. His mother asked my office to help find out who murdered her son. She suspects foul play. He had no known enemies. He worked for a living. We need answers,” Merritt wrote on Twitter.
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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.
During the Guyger trial, Brown’s testimony proved to be crucial in the eventual conviction of the former Dallas police officer for the murder of Botham Jean. Brown testified that he would often hear Jean singing from his apartment across the hall. He also said that he never heard Guyger give any commands before shots were fired. Because Guyger was found guilty on the most serious charge of murder, many have taken to social media to express their suspicions that Brown was killed for testifying against her and demanded justice.
Kemp came under fire from legal experts and ordinary citizens alike for hugging Guyger following a prison sentence of 10 years that many criticized as being too lenient.
A woman who identified herself online as the mother of one of Brown’s children created a GoFundMe to raise money. As of Tuesday morning, more than $5,000 of the $30,000 goal has been raised.