A grand jury in Dallas indicted former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger on a murder charge for the shooting death of Botham Jean. Nearly three months after the 26-year-old Jean was shot in his apartment while minding his own business, the wheels of justice seem to be turning just a bit.
But will there be justice? Will Amber Guyger pay for her heinous crime? She has already been fired from the police department—something that activists had called for since the shooting was initially reported. She was fired and there was a collective sigh of relief that she would no longer be on the streets with a license to kill anyone else. Being fired would not necessarily stop her from getting a job with another police department, however.
I said before that Amber Guyger needed to be charged with murder, and I stand by that. Now that we have the charge, we need a conviction.
There is nothing in any of the numerous versions of Guyger’s story that warrants an innocent man being shot dead in his own apartment just because he was there. Even if all the pieces of Guyger’s puzzle of crazy added up—parking on the wrong floor, going to the wrong apartment, somehow opening the door and seeing a shadow, shooting to kill said shadow—it still doesn’t make sense that her first instinct was to use lethal force when she had so many other options.
It is obvious from Guyger’s actions that shooting first and asking questions later is the order of the day with many police officers. While some may exercise a certain amount of discretion, a great many choose to shoot to kill and explain it away with a “I feared for my life” as the excuse.
That has to come to an end.
Whether Guyger will be the catalyst for that remains to be seen. Police officers continue to shoot and kill black people with impunity, and it is becoming something that is normalized in our society. For every shooting that happens, there is a very loud crowd of white people who are willing to argue and justify what amounts to state-sanctioned murder.
Indeed, with Guyger saying she “issued commands” that “Jean ignored,” there was an attempt there to paint a picture of Botham Jean being somehow complicit in his own death because when a stranger burst into his apartment unexpectedly, he didn’t immediately fall in line and do everything they told him to do.
There are those who will try to separate this shooting from other officer-involved shooting deaths because they will argue that Guyger was off-duty when it happened. To those people I will say, you can’t have it both ways.
You can’t at once argue that Guyger issued commands that weren’t followed and then say it doesn’t count as a police shooting because she was off-duty. Those are two different narratives that attempt to justify and explain the same thing.
Amber Guyger killed someone. She made the decision to pull out her weapon and fire it into a dark apartment knowing someone could end up dead in the process. She shot first and called 911 later—and apparently it was only once she called 911 that she realized she wasn’t in the correct apartment after all.
We’ve seen police officers go on trial for shooting black people before, but all too often they escape conviction.
Murder was the case that they gave Amber Guyger.
We need that case to stick.