Police say key witness in Amber Guyger case killed during drug deal, skeptics allege a cover-up
Article By Amber Lynn // EEW Magazine // Crime
Authorities say Joshua Brown, a key witness in the Amber Guyger murder trial, was shot and killed in a drug deal gone bad.
Dallas police say they have identified three Louisiana men linked to the crime, but skeptics suspect a police cover-up and doubt the validity of the story.
Despite loud rumblings of a retaliation plot against Brown whose testimony helped convict Botham Jean’s murderer, authorities are cautioning that the killing had nothing at all to do with that trial or case.
The Associated Press reports that one of the suspects, Michael Mitchell, 32, was arrested by federal deputy marshals Tuesday night in Marksville, Louisiana. Mitchell’s nephew, 20-year-old Jacquerious Mitchell, was in critical condition in a Dallas hospital with a gunshot wound. The third suspect, Thaddeous Green, 22, was still at large.
Investigators believe the three men were in Dallas to buy drugs from Brown, a former University of South Florida football player, Assistant Chief Avery Moore said at a news conference earlier Tuesday. Moore said Jacquerious Mitchell told police that Brown shot him in the chest after Green and Brown began fighting during the drug deal, and that Green then shot Brown twice.
Green left with Brown’s backpack and gun, police said. Authorities confiscated 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) of marijuana, 149 grams of THC cartridges and more than $4,000 in cash during a search of Brown’s home.
It is unclear how the three men came into contact with Brown or why they would have driven more than 300 miles (483 kilometers) from central Louisiana to purchase marijuana in Texas.
The police announcement comes amid widespread and open speculation regarding Brown’s death, which happened two days after a jury sentenced the white ex-cop for killing her black upstairs neighbor. Immediately after news broke of Brown’s death, some politicians, preachers, lawyers, and everyday citizens, tagged the “boys in blue” with blame in a case that sparked fierce debate over race, politics and policing.
Guyger fatally shot Jean in September 2018 in his fourth-floor apartment while he was eating ice cream. She testified that she mistook his apartment for her own unit one floor below. She was arrested on a manslaughter charge three days after the killing, prompting criticism that the original charge was too lenient, but a grand jury later decided on the more serious charge of murder.
The latest shooting victim, who was also black, was one of several neighbors called by prosecutors to testify at the trial. The conspiracy theories surrounding Brown’s death underscored the distrust that some Dallas residents, and Americans in general, have for the police department.
“I have no reason to believe that their conclusions so far in the investigation are unreliable,” said Lee Merritt, the African American attorney for the families of Brown and Jean.
However, he said, because of the police’s association with the Amber Guyger trial, “Some members of the community will have a difficult time accepting it.”
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. previously requested an independent investigation into Brown’s death, calling it “deeply alarming and highly suspicious” in a news release. Merritt also urged the department to hand off the investigation into Brown’s death to another law enforcement agency as a way to bolster trust.
But Moore, the assistant police chief, said Tuesday that it was reckless for people to speculate as to the circumstances surrounding Brown’s death, adding that it undermined the public’s faith in the department.
“As you know, there’s been speculation and rumors that have been shared by community leaders claiming that Mr. Brown’s death was related to the Amber Guyger trial and somehow the Dallas Police Department was responsible,” Moore said. “I assure you that is simply not true and I encourage those leaders to be mindful of their actions moving forward because their words have jeopardized the integrity of the city of Dallas as well as the Dallas Police Department.”
Merritt previously said Brown had had reservations about testifying in such a high-profile trial because he had been wounded in a shooting outside of a Dallas strip club last year. Police Major Max Geron said Tuesday that investigators have no evidence linking that shooting to Brown’s death.
Since the shooting, elected leaders have asked the public to refrain from speculating about the circumstances of Brown’s death. Mayor Eric Johnson on Tuesday thanked “everyone who demonstrated patience and responsibly reserved their judgment while” police investigated.
The Rev. Michael Waters, pastor of Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Church in Dallas, who has pushed for police reform in the city, said the speculation around Brown’s death is driven by “generations” of mistrust for the police that’s grown out of wrongful convictions and abuse.
“There is cause for the community to be skeptical,” Waters said. “There is a lack of credibility that the Dallas Police Department currently has and, frankly, it’s not just among brown and black communities.”