Reflections on The Botham Jean Trial

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

By Nkem Okorie



Imagine after a long day of work, you go home, sit on your couch, and watch football while eating ice cream. All of a sudden someone walks into your apartment and shoots you. This is what happened to Botham Jean. On September 6, 2018, 26-year-old St. Lucia native Botham Jean, was gunned down by former off duty Dallas police officer Amber Guyger. Guyger, who had gotten off of a late shift, returned to her apartment building in Dallas, parked her car and entered into Jean’s apartment firing two shots hitting him in the chest. Guyger called 911 and Jean was transported to a nearby hospital where he died of his injuries. Guyger said she mistakenly shot Jean because she thought he was an intruder in her apartment, but it turns out it wasn’t her apartment. 


Jeans death immediately attracted national attention and outrage. It’s a tragedy with a possible outcome that we’ve seen far too many times. An unarmed black man getting killed by police without any repercussions or justice. Botham Jean became another statistic, but this time it was in the comfort of his own home. The murder trial started this week and I’ve been keeping up with everything that has been uncovered. It was revealed that Guyger had an intimate relationship with her partner. She had been texting explicit messages to her partner while she walked to the door. Tenants who lived at the apartment and on Jean’s floor, took the stand to tell the jury what they heard. Most say they didn’t hear Guyver say any commands, but they agreed that they have experienced going to the wrong floor or door at some point. After 4 days of testimony, Guyger took the witness stand to tell her side. 


Guyger stated that she didn’t realize that she was on the wrong floor because she was so tired from her shift that all she wanted to do was to get home. But, she went to the wrong home. When she got to the door, she saw it was already open ajar. She opened the door and saw a “large silhouette” in the dark apartment. That large silhouette was Botham Jean. Guyver said she yelled out police type of verbal commands and that Jean said “hey hey hey” and began rushing at her. She was in fear of her life, so she shot Jean and called 911. Guyver revealed that she provided little CPR to Jean due to shock. She also stated that she did not know how to perform CPR on a person. 


The prosecutors really started to dig in and brought up the point that Guyger is a CPR trained police officer and she has worked for the Dallas Police Department for four years. She’s also trained to be more aware of her surroundings than the average citizen. There were different details that should have alerted Guyger that she was not on her floor. The hallways are set up different, the 4th floor of the parking garage, where she accidentally parked, has a sky opening while the 3rd floor doesn’t, and Jean had a bright red floor mat in front of his door, while Guyger did not. 

 

Jean’s death has brought up a conversation about race and police using excessive deadly force when they don’t have to. There are speculations that Guyger received special treatment on the night of the shooting and will receive special treatment during sentencing.  Amber Guyger was found guilty for the murder of Botham Jean and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The saddest part is that she most likely will get out in 5 years.

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