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["Speaking Truth To Empower"\Eyes On Policing]
Amber Guyger should be thankful the largely Black and minority jury had mercy for her—mercy also exhibited by the forgiveness she was shown by Botham Jean’s brother, Brandt Jean.
Photo: Facebook

Botham Jean killed in his home by trigger-happy policing while watching television and eating ice cream.

Yesterday afternoon, former Dallas Officer Amber Guyger was given a lenient sentence of ten years for her reckless trigger-happy killing of Botham Jean inside his home—the home Guyger supposedly thought was her apartment.

Guyger should be thankful the largely Black and minority jury had mercy for her—mercy also exhibited by the forgiveness she was shown by Botham Jean’s brother, Brandt Jean. She got off lightly for killing this Black man inside his home because of her prejudiced mindset.

Indeed, Guyger’s fallaciously incoherent defense should’ve enhanced the severity of her sentence.

Police officers who perpetrate wrongdoing, and then compound it by engaging in cover-ups and lies, should be punished to the fullest extent under America’s so-called “rule of the law”—including, when they kill and murder African-Americans. Also, a crystal-clear message must be sent to bigots wearing badges that Black lives must be respected just like White ones.

Many have understandably hailed Guyger’s conviction. However, we must ask this question: would the verdict have been the same if this jury wasn’t largely comprised of Blacks and minorities?

On Wednesday, Guyger, 31, was sentenced to ten years following her recent conviction for fatally shooting her upstairs neighbor, Botham Jean, 26, a St. Lucian native on Sept. 6, 2018, who she said she thought was intruding in her house. Mr. Jean was killed while he was eating ice cream and watching television.

The particulars of this case of trigger-happy policing are truly bizarre.

Presumably, Guyger made a number of consecutive curious mistakes that led to Jean’s death. First, Officer Guyger, who was off-duty and going home, drove to the wrong parking floor of the apartment complex where both she and Jean lived. She then walked from the parking lot to Jean’s apartment before entering it thinking it was her apartment. Jean’s door reportedly had a defective electronic key. The fact that Guyger didn’t notice this is another unanswered question.

Not long after, she fired two shots inside Jean’s home killing him.

Guyger claimed she thought Jean was an intruder. She testified she told Jean "Let me see your hands," but that he came toward her screaming "Hey! Hey! Hey!"

Here is where the lies and coverup start.

Guyger clearly perjured herself with this statement. The trajectory of the bullet makes it clear Jean was not standing when he was shot dead. At best, he may’ve been attempting to stand up—to see who this White woman was who intruding into his apartment. The medical examiner’s stated Jean was shot either in a seated position, or, “in a cowering position.”

Guyger’s claim that she shouted commands to Jean to show his hands was another lie. Several neighbors testified they heard no such shouted commands.

Guyger’s perjured filled defense worsened her recklessly deadly actions. There remain several troubling questions. To answer these questions, we would have to know what was going on in Guyger’s mind at the time.

How could Guyger make so many mistakes sequentially?

How could she drive to the wrong parking level of the apartment complex; park there; walk that distance to the wrong apartment door, with Jean’s bright red mat outside—then gain entry into the apartment and proceed to shoot him? So many mistakes made in such rapid succession calls Guyger’s mental state into question.

Was she drunk at the time? Was she under the influence of something else?

The toxicology report says she wasn’t intoxicated. But we should question when that report was really done. Was it done on the night of the killing? Or, was it done after she was arrested?

Let’s remember this: Guyger wasn’t arrested until three days after she killed Jean. And that arrest only happened because of the people protests that forced the hands of Dallas officials.

This is important for a few reasons. Anyone else who killed someone under these circumstances would’ve been arrested immediately. But government officials always give police the benefit of every doubt when the dead victim is Black. The reluctance and late arrest of Guyger should make us question when, in fact, this toxicology test was done.

Who better than cops would know how to beat a drug test? If Guyger wasn’t in a drug-induced stupor when she killed Jean, what was going on inside her mind?

During this case, it was revealed Guyger was exchanging sexually explicit text messages with an officer she worked with and was trying to meet up with him later that night. Phone records indicate Guyger was on the phone with this officer when she drove to the wrong floor of the apartment complex. So, did this tragedy happen partly because Guyger was paying too much attention to her text messages?

If this is the case, why didn’t she just take responsibility for her actions?

These days we know far too many Americans are texting while driving before they end up killing themselves and others. Because she lived directly below Jean, it is plausible Guyger—especially, if she was also severely drunk—could’ve made these mistakes if her eyes were largely fixed on her phone. She reportedly had only been living at the apartment complex for two months.

If this is what really happened, Guyger, as a “law enforcement” officer should’ve told the truth—like we should always expect officers to do. Instead, she engaged in lying and her enablers tried to smear Mr. Jean, as is so often done to Black victims of police abuse. The other thing that impeaches her character is the offensive racist texts we now know she has made, which gives us insight into her twisted mindset and explains aspects of her conduct.

The prosecutor pointed out that Guyger once, during a Martin Luther King Day holiday, made fun of the death of the Civil Rights leader. When asked by someone when the celebration would end, Guyger’s response was “When MLK is dead … oh wait …” What kind of respectable law enforcement officer makes jokes about the assassination of one of America’s greatest patriots?

Guyger’s social media postings should remind us of all the racist texts and Facebook postings by police officers across America that have come to light in recent years.

Guyger’s bigoted thinking appears to have prevented her from giving Mr. Jean CPR. Instead of doing that we’re told she was making a 911 call and that her mind was in panic mode. If we’re to accept this rationale it means Guyger should’ve never been a police officer. Shouldn’t the police be expected to be able to perform and function under extreme pressure?

However, it seems clear Guyger was more concerned with covering up her reckless actions making a bad situation worse. Perhaps, if she had tried to give Jean lifesaving aid the outcome might have been different. But selfishly she decided preserving her White life was more important than the Black life she had just violated.

Guyger’s trigger-happy stance—one that is endemic in institutionally racist police departments—was revealed in another text message. She reportedly had a social media page entitled “quotes of inspiration,” where one of the entries reads: “Kill first, die last.”

Isn’t it clear this adage was in her distorted mind when she opened fire on Jean? Is this the kind of mentality we want police officers to operate with on our streets knowing the bullseye will largely be upon African-Americans?

In this time, America’s political leadership must be made to comprehensively address the institutional racism that is so deeply embedded in America policing. Black America must force 2020 Presidential candidates to address this. To date, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro is the only candidate to produce a detailed policing plan.

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