News station criticized for publishing ‘smear’ about man killed in his apartment by off-duty officer

A news station in Dallas, Texas, is facing backlash after publishing a story alleging that the man who was shot to death in his own apartment by an off-duty officer was in possession of marijuana.

In a story published Thursday, Fox 4 News reported that police released a search warrant claiming marijuana was found in the apartment of Botham Jean, a black man who was fatally shot last week in his own home by an off-duty Dallas police officer, who is white. 

{mosads}Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger told investigators that she mistakenly entered Jean’s apartment, believing it to be hers, and fired her gun when she thought Jean was an intruder.

She was arrested and charged with manslaughter on Sunday and was released on a $300,000 bond

Fox 4 News tweeted the story about the warrant Thursday afternoon, prompting swift backlash from critics who questioned on Twitter why alleged marijuana possession was being reported on by the news station.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the story an “attack” on Jean.

“This is an attack on an innocent man who was killed by a cop for simply existing in his own home. PERIOD,” the organization said of the Fox 4 story. “Botham Jean should still be alive and Black. Lives. Matter.”

Comedian Tony Posnanski said Jean’s death was an example of the racial injustice that prompted former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to kneel in protest during the national anthem.

Dana Loesch, an outspoken guns rights advocate and spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, also criticized the story.

“How is this germane to what happened?” Loesch asked on Twitter of the search warrant.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro also weighed in.

“Well then I guess it’s fine he was shot for no reason in his own apartment for doing nothing,” Shapiro wrote on Twitter.

Former White House ethics chief Walter Schaub called the story a “despicable” smear.”

Nicole Kraft, a journalism professor at Ohio State University, asked Fox 4 News to explain why the outlet used a headline that focused on the alleged marijuana found in Jean’s apartment.

“Of all the things found in that apartment, why does this makes headline and not laptop, lunchbox–or cartridge casings? Please explain.”

The Hill has reached out to Fox 4 News for comment. 

When Buzzfeed News reached out to the Dallas news station about the backlash, the outlet said it had “no comment.”

Reporter Jon Passantino later noted that the outlet changed their story’s headline to detail how Jean’s lawyers were “disgusted” by the release of the search warrant.

The original tweet was still online as of Friday afternoon as social media users slammed the station.

Tags Dallas Dallas Texas Walter Shaub

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