The case and trial of Amber Guyger
An opinon piece by guest writer: Kellen Chrane | Published: October 3, 2019
It has been more than a year since Amber Guyger fatally shot and killed Botham Jean, an unarmed, innocent man, because she thought that he broke into her apartment.
Amber Guyger, fresh off a 15-hour police shift, mistook her apartment for Botham Jean’s. While entering the unlocked apartment, she came upon him watching television and eating ice cream. What happened next should never have happened, and was instead a silly misunderstanding. The Jean family is rocked to the core, never to experience normalcy again, and Guyger is going to spend time in jail.
Jean was a good man. No, he was a great man. According to his family, Jean was a gentle, kind soul, and he had never hurt anyone. Growing up in St.Lucia, he studied accounting at Harding University. He loved to sing and even led worship at Harding. In fact, he even attended the same worship events that I did at YFN Dallas.
Jean was an incredible man, something that his neighbors more than agreed on. His life shouldn't have been taken last year, he should still be here. He should still be at home singing the gospel and Drake, like his neighbors say he loved. His death was the result of a careless and impulsive reaction to a situation that never should have happened. His death has ignited others to join the fight against criminal bias against people of color, with people like Shaun King, the creator of the new North Star and a prominent journalist, prolific political leader, and compassionate man seeking justice in this world.
Even though Jean's name will eventually fade from the news cycles, his memory and the work people are doing to achieve justice for the marginalized, the minorities, and the lesser, never will. I just pray that we never become accustomed to the acts of violence that permeate our lives almost daily.
The argument that the criminal defense team made for Guyger is a murky one. According to the team involved, she was so exhausted from a 15-hour shift that she failed to notice that she was on the wrong floor of her apartment building. However, as it was revealed by Lance Sloves, a computer and cell phone forensic examiner who I've had the pleasure of meeting, that she was in fact texting and sending sexual messages to her partner on the force. She was even in the middle of a 15-minute phone call when she walked into Jean’s apartment.
The question arises: How can you be too tired to notice that you are not in the right place, but have enough energy to actively sext and call your partner in crime who you are having an affair with?
The fact that, after the events transpired, she proceeded to delete and remove any trace of the messages with her partner, is screaming guilt. Also, the fact that she did not notice the night sky above the parking garage when she usually parks on the fourth floor. She also failed to notice the neighbors outdoor decorations as well as Jean’s red rug.
To add on to this, four days after she murdered Jean, she claimed she never said a word to him. Later on, she stated that she yelled commands for him to stand down, put his hands up, and get on the floor. Three neighbors, Bharath Amarnath, Taydra Jones, and Ronald Jones all said that this was a lie. The walls are paper-thin, everybody hears everything, and all that they heard were gunshots and a panicked yell of a woman who murdered a man without exercising an ounce of common sense. She also claimed that he jumped up aggressively and began to charge at her. This is also a lie. On Oct. 6, 2018, Jean was bragging to his sister that he got to get off work early and that he was going to eat ice cream and watch Thursday Night Football. That's precisely what he was doing on that fateful night, and that is exactly where his body was when the paramedics arrived and attempted to resuscitate him. On the couch.
To make this already tragic story even more convoluted, once Guyger realized the horrible mistake that she had just committed, she did nothing. In contrast to the lifesaving efforts of the first responders to the scene, Guyger was seen in a spotless uniform and texting on her phone. Meaning she did absolutely nothing to attempt to revive and potentially save Jean for the six minutes that it took for emergency services to arrive. Further exposing the lie that has been spun, Guyger claimed that she had no choice but to shoot him as he charged her. However, his shoes had been moved to the entrance by Tu Nguyen, a first responder, to prop the victim’s feet up to attempt to bring blood back into his tattered heart.
Nguyen’s testimony further reveals the lie that Guyger and her defense team have spun. To make matters worse, it was recently announced that Mike Mata, one of the Dallas officers reporting to the scene, removed Guyger out of shot of all body cameras, and forced all reporting cops to turn their body cameras off. This further points to an attempted cover up for a fellow officer, revealing just how far someone will go to avoid the justice that Guyger deserves.
Guyger was initially charged with manslaughter, which would have resulted in at least 20 years in prison. However, after new information came to light in 2018, the charge was changed to murder. The jury found her guilty of murder on Oct. 2 and she was sentenced to 10 years in prison and is eligible for parole in five. Regardless of the sentence, there is no question the effect that this trial has had on the Jean family, the City of Dallas, and the people of this world who are fighting against negligence and hateful stereotypes daily.
To Guyger I say this, we will not forget. Even though you aren't going to spend the rest of your life in jail, you get to live with the horrific choice you made. Justice didn't prevail the way I or anyone would’ve hoped, but you are never going to experience normalcy again. You will never get to hide in plain sight. In 10 years, everywhere you go, you will be known as the woman who ended Botham Jean’s life. The woman who threw a life away as easy and as carelessly as throwing a piece of paper into a trash bin.
Botham Jean is gone, and I pray that us as a society never let this go. That we use this as fuel to shine a light on the hateful stereotypes and biases that still course through our country's blood. To students everywhere I emplore you, don’t let things like this murder pass by. Don't let the daily injustice and hate that people are experiencing continue to happen. Stand up, speak up, and let's be the generation that finally pushes the hate and systemic racism out of the picture.
What Jean’s brother Brandt said should rock Dallas to its core. Brandt got on the stand and FORGAVE her. He doesn't want Guyger to spend the rest of her life in prison. He wants her to turn to God, to make a change in her heart and to turn her life around. Then he hugged her. Fighting back tears, he left the stand and hugged Amber. This is incredible. If Brandt could earnestly forgive the murder of his own brother, then don’t you think you could forgive the one who has wronged you? If he could willingly hug and love the one who took his brother away, don't you think you could forgive the one who hurt you today?
I pray that this sends a shockwave not only through Dallas, but through the entire country, showing us that forgiveness is POWERFUL. That instead of the hate that has divided us for so long will step aside for a radical love for one another. That instead of fighting, we will finally be the generation that stands together. Unified as one people. Not divided by race, politics, economic status, or gender, but one group of people. Together in peace.