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…