In the case that shook a nation, Amber Guyger became the first white female cop to be convicted for the cold-blooded murder of a black man armed only with ice-cream. As the story goes, she mistook his apartment for her own, trespassed into his house and lodged a bullet into his heart. As the beloved Botham Jean lay bleeding on the ground, a panicked Guyger made the call to 911. The audio has been released to the public, and she can be heard repeating “I thought it was my apartment”, “Hey…hey buddy, stay with me,” and “I’m gonna lose my job.”
Interestingly enough, the thought wasn’t “I’m gonna go to jail” or “I just shot an innocent man”, it was “I’m going to (merely) lose my job.”
On that note, while the case was followed by millions across the country, due to the incredulity of being murdered by an off-duty cop in one’s own home, many people believed that things would follow the established pattern of police being above the law.
When Guyger took the stand during trial, blonde hair even blonder, mascara smudged just so, through melodramatic tears she lamented that she had to live with what she had done and wished that the roles were reversed, an interesting sentiment to put out there, given the pervasive All-American fear of a black man preying on a white woman.
It subtly conveyed the idea that this could have easily been self-defense, if she did indeed believe he was an intruder. A human mistake, they wanted us to think. A costly, silly mistake to make, but who among us is above human fallibility? For the crime of murder, Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with possibility of parole in 5 years, a slap on the wrist in comparison to say, a black man sentenced to 42 years for killing a police dog.
Amber Guyger alone was convicted, but she alone is not to blame. White supremacy killed Botham Jean. The white supremacy within her, stemming from internalized superiority over black bodies, but also the white supremacy that flows through the veins of the North American police system, that shaped and molded her into the trigger-happy cop that she was. It is the police’s over reliance on violence, especially when it comes to black lives, that allowed her to go straight for the gun when she had an arsenal of tools, including a taser and pepper spray, at her disposal. It is the state-sanctioned treatment of black bodies as threats to be controlled and manhandled that caused her to shoot to kill rather than fire a warning shot. Not one, but two shots fired at the heart suggests a bloodthirsty soul, eager for the kill, further evidenced by her militant social media posts. The person was black, check, a possible intruder, check, shoot first and ask questions later. When the time came to ask questions, and it turned out that she was the intruder, her first thought was oh boy, I’m gonna be fired.
Lee Merritt, the Jean family’s lawyer, shed some light on the Dallas Police Force’s insidious attempts to disrupt the course of justice, stating that the Guyger trial “revealed corruption at every level in the city of Dallas. Her partner Martin Rivera openly admitted to destroying evidence, violating departmental policy, committing perjury. He has faced little to no blow back. He is still a Dallas Police Officer till this day. The Dallas Police Association president Mike Matta showed up to Botham’s apartment the night he was murdered and interjected himself into that investigation, actively conspiring to protect Amber Guyger. He instructed she be taken out of custody, that body cam and dash cam videos be halted and began crafting a narrative to get her off…on camera! The DOJ needs to be auditing the entire department. We should be hounding the mayor and police chief non-stop to clean house. We are not, though.”
Merritt is completely right. The police department has been deafeningly silent on such a historic moment, refusing to denounce the crime that was committed by a member of their team, and protecting those within their ranks who were complicit in illegal cover-ups. Their position is clear, and there will be no warbled backhanded admissions from those who walk free.
In fact, the lead witness in the Guyger case, Joshua Brown, was killed days after the trial, found shot in the mouth and chest. While the specific location of wounds has yet to be officially confirmed by autopsy at the time of this article, many have speculated that this was a revenge killing, a message allegedly being sent by police for toppling one of their own. Brown, the friend and neighbor of Jean, provided testimony that significantly undermined the defense’s claims. Guyger said that she shouted commands to Botham before shooting him, and this was denied by Brown, who had been walking down the corridor and heard the shots that killed his friend, and even spotted Guyger talking on the phone. Joshua Brown was ambushed outside of his apartment on Friday as he exited his car, and shot at close range. He had no known enemies and was not in the streets, so for some people, all red flags pointed to the ultimate, state-sanctioned gang that not only protects and serves white supremacy, and likely wouldn’t hesitate to avenge its downfall.
Dallas Police Department, we need answers. Law enforcement of America, we need an entire overhaul. Justice system of the USA, we need accountability. Key players in this ongoing tragedy are escaping unscathed, while we butcher our own people for displays of forgiveness and compassion.
Who is going to find the men that executed Joshua Brown, and what will be done to them?
Will the Dallas Police Department fire Martin Rivera and Mike Matta for meddling in a crime?
Will those within the department who are aware of the corruption and choose to silently support the “bad apples”, finally decide to speak out?
Is organized law enforcement in Dallas and elsewhere going to address the fact that blood is on their hands due to their violent tendencies and racist attitudes?
Right now, Guyger and her defense team are conspiring to appeal the already lenient verdict. The Dallas Police Department investigates the murder of a witness who contributed to their national public scrutiny, and one can almost smell the black-on-black crime scapegoat in the works. It is high time to focus on how we can hold white supremacy and its agents accountable for the barbarism committed against us, as they squirm to be set free from the claws of justice.