(Photo: CBS News)
Botham Shem Jean is dead.
The woman who murdered him, Amber Guyger, is a cop. Hopefully, she doesn’t walk; however, there will be a lot to overcome to ensure that does not happen.
Guyger was off duty. She clocked out. Every rule of the law that applies to you and me should then have applied to her with no special treatment attached.
There is no doubt in my mind that her attorneys will try to paint a picture of her as if she were distressed and had no choice but to shoot. One must understand that there are laws that apply to cops that do not apply to the every day citizen. Make no mistake about it, Guyger’s team will try to capitalize on this. This is what they want you to believe and presumably how they will try to change the narrative. Don’t forget the very real factor that Jean is a Black man and how Black men have been perceived throughout America’s stained past and present.
You might be wondering why cops get away with blatantly killing Black people even when evidence is stacked against them. This is what I am referring to when I speak of preferential treatment:
The low conviction rates of cops over the years can be attributed in part to the laws surrounding the use of deadly force. Ultimately, what matters is the cop’s interpretation of what (or who) is a threat or not. If the cop believes he/she is threatened or if they believe the suspect poses a threat to the public, they are legally justified in using deadly force. (Read Tennesee vs Garner, 1985). Additionally, they are given the benefit of the doubt. Their perception of danger is the determining factor in whether or not they were justified in pulling the trigger.
Every police department has their standard operating procedures on the use of deadly force.
The Dallas Police Department’s rules on deadly force states the following:
906.02 Justification for the Use of Deadly Force -In all situations, justification for the use of deadly force must be limited to the facts reasonably apparent to the officer at the time the officer decides to use the force.
1. Reasonably Perceive – The facts or circumstances the employee knows, or should know, that would cause an ordinary and prudent peace officer to act or think in a similar way under similar circumstances.
2. Reasonable Alternative – An action that may be taken by the officer that may allow the officer to avoid the use of deadly force.
3. Reasonable Belief – A belief that would be held by an ordinary and prudent person in the same circumstances as the actor.
4. Serious Bodily Injury – Bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss of impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
She was off duty so none of that should come into play – but it will. I think that Guyger’s attorneys will construct her case as such, which is my basis for believing there is a long road ahead. They will want to include certain aspects of on-duty police procedures to justify her supposed reaction.
Even if she were telling the truth (which she is not), that is still a problem. Do I really have to mention implicit biases yet again? When these biases make their way into situations with cops that determine life or death, Black people discriminately and undeservedly receive death. Perceived biases are historically evident but seldom carry enough weight to sway a jury.
According to initial reports, Guyger mistakenly entered the wrong apartment after struggling with the door’s key card, ultimately shooting and killing Jean in the process. That account has since changed.
There is no video of the shooting (and even if there were, it has been proven that it doesn’t always affect the outcome). No eye-witnesses we know of thus far. It is her word against the word of a dead man. There is no one to refute her new claim that the door was ajar and upon entering “her” apartment, she was afraid for her life. Who’s to say if he refused to obey her commands or made a sudden move or not? If someone does come to Jean’s defense, are they credible? It must also be taken into account that the defense will undoubtedly convey the dangers and stresses of police work in an attempt to present evidence that will instill in the minds of the jurors a rationalization for Guyger’s response.
Nevermind that the brother was in his own crib.
During the press conference addressing the killing of Botham Jean, a question was asked in regard to the shooter’s whereabouts. No one knew. This is problematic. It is important that police have on record the shooter’s account of the incident without any long stretches of time allowed to prepare. Allowing such can easily (and rightfully) give an impression of collusion. I am certain that these precautions were not taken into consideration nor applied, as evidenced by Guyger’s ever-changing recollection of events.
She’s lying and everyone knows it. But we also know the game. It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove in court.
So it begins. The fix is in. Black lives still don’t matter enough to ensure that murderers of Black lives by those in blue uniforms are called to task and held accountable. I am following this story with my eyes open just as you may be, witnessing an outcome that I feel has already been determined. The same tactics have worked before, why wouldn’t they work again?The message has long been sent; the precedent for killing us set a long time ago. And while many seem to think that is just fine, we cannot let that precedent continue. We must fight.
Here’s to hoping that the family’s attorneys will attack this case of murder with an unparalleled zeal knowing that similar and future cases can very well rest on their diligence – and quite possibly be a springboard whereby we can draft a new blueprint altogether.