A Texas man who was fatally gunned down just days after testifying as a key witness in the Botham Jean police shooting was killed in a drug deal gone wrong, authorities said Tuesday.
Three capital murder arrest warrants have been issued in Friday night’s shooting of 28-year-old Joshua Brown, who just three days earlier had testified in the trial of former officer Amber Guyger. Guyger was convicted of murdering Jean and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Jacquerious Mitchell, 20, Michael Mitchell, 32, and Thaddeous Green, 22, allegedly traveled to Dallas from Alexandria, Louisiana, to purchase drugs from Brown when a physical altercation took place, leading to gunfire in the parking lot, Assistant Police Chief Avery Moore said at a press conference.
Jacquerious Mitchell told police Brown shot him in his chest before Green shot Brown twice, killing him. The three of them then fled the scene. Jacquerious Mitchell was dropped off to seek medical help at a hospital, which is where he was taken into police custody, Moore said.
A later search of Brown’s apartment recovered 12 pounds of marijuana, 149 grams of THC cartridges and $4,000 cash. Green and Michael Mitchell remain at large as of Tuesday afternoon, Moore said.
Authorities went on to stress that rumors linking Brown’s death and the Guyger trial are “false” and jeopardize the integrity of the city and its police force.
In a statement released by attorney Lee Merritt, Brown’s family responded Tuesday by urging the Dallas police department to turn the investigation over to an outside agency. Merritt represented Jean’s family in the murder trial.
“This family and their representatives have consciously avoided speculating about law enforcement involvement in this tragedy, however, due to the proximity of this murder with the trial of Amber Guyger — rumors abound,” the statement read.
“It will be nearly impossible to conduct a reliable investigation in a climate where the investigating agency has been implicated in the murder itself,” it continued. “A cloud of suspicion will rest over this case until steps are taken to ensure the trustworthiness of the process.”
Merritt earlier in the day had said that Brown pleaded not to testify on the stand in the Guyger trial, fearing that it could put his life at risk. Brown had survived a shooting last November that left one man dead and one of two shooters at large, and was concerned he would be at risk.
“Josh was concerned that these people still meant him harm so when he was subpoenaed to testify against Amber Guyger he was conflicted,” Merritt said in a Facebook post. “Ultimately he decided that it was just too dangerous.”
Merritt said Brown left the state and was in California when prosecutors caught up with him and threatened to issue a warrant for his arrest if he didn’t return and appear in court.
“So he got on a plane and came straight from the airport to the courthouse,” Merritt said. “Brown’s testimony was powerful but it was also duplicative. Nothing he testified to couldn’t have been brought in by other witnesses. It wasn’t worth his life.”
The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment on Brown’s testimony.