Amber Guyger, a former Dallas police officer, is found guilty in the murder of Botham Jean, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed in his own apartment, which was on a different floor than Guyger’s apartment. Amber Guyge, who was an off-duty police officer believed she had found an intruder inside her apartment, and shot and killed the man inside. Botham Jean was described to be eating ice cream and watching a movie on the evening he was killed. Sparking questions on how a man sitting on the couch seemed as an intruder and threatening enough to shoot twice.
In an article by The New York Times Guyger told the jury, “I was scared he was going to kill me.” The case is very unusual, with no witnesses and only one person's account of the incident. The former police officer could face up to life in prison. While the trial went on inside, Black Lives Matter chants could be heard outside the courtroom where people gathered looking for justice that they deserve.
Guyger fired two shots that killed Jean on the scene. According to The Washington Post, Guyger testified in court, “It was fear, not racism that drove me to pull the trigger,” she continued, “this is not about hate, It’s about being scared.” Police brutality and killings on African American’s in the United States has been a big topic that has created great movements to put a stop to the injustice.
The Washington Post article also explains how after the jury convicted Guyger of murder, prosecutors introduced text messages from Guyger’s phone. There were offensive statements found on her phone including jokes about Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, mocking her black colleagues and discussing a dog that her friend warns “may be racist.” These messages were written just days before the fatal shooting of Botham Jean, and many have speculated that due to these messages, she does have racist ideals. These messages that Guyger sent showed her true colors joking or not.
Guyger’s defense attorney argued that she had just gotten off a fourteen hour shift and was tired and not aware she had entered the wrong apartmentment which made her believe Jean was a burglar. NBC News reported that during the sentencing phase, defense attorney Toby Shook asked the jury to think about how Guyger helped others as an officer and largely glossed over the derogatory texts. "Through these horrible series of events, she went into his apartment by mistake," Shook said. "She pulled that trigger in an instant an instant she will regret for the rest of her life. ... she didn't go there seeking to kill him." Guyger didn’t shoot once but twice, and did very minimal to try and keep Jean alive while she soon realized she had made a mistake.
According to CNN, the verdict was deliberated by the jury in less than 24 hours. On Oct. 1, Amber Guyger was found guilty of murder in the 2018 fatatl shooting of Botham Jean and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The Jean family rejoiced in the victory. Even though many believed the sentence was very light and justice was not served.
Botham’s mother Allison Jean also spoke to the jury describing the day when she had found out her son had been shot and killed. She said, "My life has not been the same. It's just been like a roller coaster." Allison tearfully spoke of her son’s life in The Washington Post, “He had placed 23rd on the island in the entrance exam that landed him a coveted spot at St. Lucia’s top high school. As a teen, he started a choir at his school and loved to sing. He moved to Arkansas to study accounting at Harding University...He would have been 28 on Sunday.” Jean’s words are painful to hear for any parent, and with racism still running rampid in this country, these words could become a reality for anyone.
Jean’s sister Allisa Findley also spoke on the stand and said “I want my brother back.” while Prosecutors played videos of Botham Jean singing at a worship service while his older sister. Being a person of color and male it’s frightening to know you are also not safe in your own home.
Jeans younger brother Brant Jean 18, took the stand to forgive Guyger for murdering his brother. An unexpected turn, Brant even asked permission from the judge to hug Guyger. This case was very unique, the Jean family is very strong to forgive Guyger after sitting through court watching the video of Jeans last moments while he suffered to stay alive and first responders couldn’t revive him. Guns also being a controversial topic in American raises more questions was it necessary to use that force on Jean who was vulnerable while sitting on his couch.
Social media outlet Twitter was all over the case, especially when the media released photos of the victim Botham Jean in a professional headshot dressed in a suit and tie. While they released Amber Guyger’s mugshot. It seemed people were relieved that the media had gotten the photos correct in this case, showing the victim in a photo that represented him smiling and dressed professional. In America the media has reversed the roles, usually favoring the white person in a case like this and not putting up a mugshot, especially a white woman that worked in the police force. Racism in our society is something that has been there, but moving forward it is being brought to light and talked about more. This is creating small changes that have huge impacts.