DALLAS — The legislation named after Botham Jean is now only one signature away from becoming law. The DeSoto Democrat behind “Bo’s Law” says the bipartisan support it received in both chambers is significant.
“As it relates to police reform, this bill has always been about establishing systemic accountability and policing and I believe this bill does that,” Rep. Carl Sherman, Sr. said on Inside Texas Politics.
House Bill 929 requires law enforcement officers to activate their body cameras during an investigation and it would make it an offense for them to turn them off.
“It's so important that it's not only about ensuring that the evidence is not edited or redacted, but it also creates evidence, because if you don't have body cams on and if you don't leave them on for the duration of the investigation, then you quite possibly don't have evidence that is critical to any case,” Sherman said.
In September 2018, off-duty Dallas police officer Amber Guyger shot and killed 26-year-old Botham Jean in his own apartment. Guyger claimed she entered Jean’s apartment believing it was her own.
A year later, Guyger was sentenced to 10-years in prison for his murder. Last month, Guyger’s attorneys asked an appeals court to acquit Guyger of the murder charge and/or find her guilty of a lesser charge.
While Bo’s Law has support from some pastors, police and a variety of residents, some law enforcement agencies still have questions. Critics, for instance, told the committee they believe the definition of “investigation” is too broad.
But Rep. Sherman said he’s talked to plenty of criminal defense attorneys and police departments who applaud the bill because it creates a consistent requirement.
“While there are several agencies that had this as a requirement, not all. And so, it was important to make this consistent throughout the 254 counties in the state of Texas.”
The bill is now on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature.