Former Dallas Cop Convicted Of Murder In Shooting Death

Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was convicted of ,murder in the death of Botham Jean, an innocent man who was murdered for the "crime" of being in his own apartment.

Amber Guyger, the off-duty Dallas police officer who shot and killed Botham Shem Jean under circumstances that remain entirely suspicious, has been convicted of murder and now faces the prospect of life in prison without parole:

The Dallas police officer who killed her neighbor after she walked into his apartment thinking it was her own has been convicted of murder, according to local reports.

Tuesday’s verdict elicited cheers from the hallway outside the courtroom and sobs from family of the victim, the Dallas Morning News reported. It followed a high-profile seven-day trial that reconstructed the evening of Sept. 6, 2018, when Amber Guyger mistakenly entered Botham Jean’s apartment. The off-duty officer said she thought she was in her unit, one floor below, and that the 26-year-old accountant was burglarizing her home.

But Guyger, a white woman who had just finished a long shift at work, was on the wrong floor of the building. In a matter of seconds, prosecutors said, Jean — an unarmed black man watching TV and eating ice cream in his own apartment — was dying on the ground, a fatal gunshot wound in his chest.

The shooting touched off days of protests in Dallas and demands for police reform. Many saw it as another egregious example of a white officer killing an unarmed black man, part of a pattern of police wielding deadly force disproportionately against people of color.

But the unusual facts of this case made it unique among other high-profile fatal police shootings, most of which are never even prosecuted.
During the trial, Guyger took the stand, offering a tearful defense and repeated apologies.

“I shot an innocent man,” she said during her testimony, the first time the public had heard from her since the shooting.

Guyger’s lawyers have said the 31-year-old, who was fired from the police force shortly after she killed Jean, was exhausted and scared when she heard someone inside the unit she thought was her own that night. She opened the door, saw a “silhouette figure” in the dark apartment and feared for her life, they said. She said she asked to see his hands, but he just walked toward her. She fired two shots.

By her own admission, she was shooting to kill.

But because she believed she was in her own home, her legal team argued, she was within her rights, acting in self-defense. It was “a series of horrible mistakes,” the lawyers said — “awful and tragic, but innocent.”

(…)

The prosecution cast Guyger as careless and negligent — armed, distracted and too quick to pull the trigger. The state’s lawyers called her defense “garbage” and “absurd.”

They said a reasonable person would have noticed the illuminated apartment numbers that read 1478, rather than 1378, and would have seen Jean’s red doormat. She wasn’t paying attention, prosecutors said, because too caught up in a sexually explicit conversation she was having with her partner on the police force.

“I mean, my God,” said Jason Fine, the Dallas County Assistant District Attorney. “This is crazy.”

Prosecutors also questioned why Guyger even opened the door when she suspected someone was inside, arguing that police training teaches officers confronting a burglar to take cover and call for backup.

“For Amber Guyger, Mr. Jean was dead before that door ever opened,” said Jason Hermus, the lead prosecutor.

Jurors had to decide whether Guyger was guilty or not guilty of murder or manslaughter.

More from the Dallas Morning News:

A Dallas County jury convicted fired officer Amber Guyger of murder for fatally shooting Botham Jean in his apartment last year.

Cheers broke out in the hallway outside the courtroom after the verdict was announced.

Jurors will now resume deliberating to decide Guyger’s punishment. In Texas, murder carries a punishment of five to 99 years or life in prison.

The charge is not eligible for probation.

Guyger, 31, fatally shot 26-year-old Jean in his apartment last year. She had said she mistook his apartment for her own and thought Jean was a burglar. She is the first Dallas officer convicted of murder since the 1970s.

Jurors began deliberating Monday after the prosecution and Guyger’s defense presented closing arguments. They delivered their verdict after about five hours of deliberations.

Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, leaned her head back as state District Judge Tammy Kemp read the verdict. Her daughter, Allisa Findley, slumped in her seat, put her face in her hands and wept.

Allison Jean’s face crumpled as she put both hands in the air. As she walked out of the courtroom, she said “God is good. Trust him.”

One woman in a red dress in the gallery cheered and clapped her hands.

A bailiff immediately yelled “no” and she was quiet.

Jean’s grandmother raised her right fist in the air as she left the courtroom.

After hearing the verdict, Guyger stood still until the jury left. Then, she sank down into her chair.

(…)

Guyger left the courtroom about 15 minutes after the verdict. She’ll be back when the sentencing phase of her trial begins about 1 p.m.

This story began just over a year ago when Guyger, a Dallas police officer coming off a long shift, returned to her apartment. Instead of entering her 5th-floor apartment, though, she entered the 4th-floor apartment of Botham Jean, a neighbor who she apparently had never had contact before. In any event, the door to Botham’s apartment was unlocked, although it isn’t clear why, so Guyger entered continuing to believe, according to her testimony, that she was in her apartment. Given the fact that the apartment numbers were different, and that the entrances were different, this claim never seemed credible from the start.

For example, Jean’s doorway has a large bright-red doormat lying on the floor in front of the doorway. Guyger’s apartment has no such doormat of any kind or color. Even notwithstanding the fact that she was carrying several items at the time, it seems implausible that Guyger would not have noticed this difference. Additionally, as noted above, several of Jean’s neighbors reported hearing a woman pounding on the door to be let in, shortly after which they heard the gunshots and a male voice, presumably Mr. Jean’s asking  “Oh my God, why did you do that?” This stands in marked contrast to Guyger’s version of events, under which she allegedly arrived at what she thought was her apartment to find the door ajar and that she saw someone she thought was a burglar. Guyger goes on to claim that she shouted standard police commands at the supposedly unknown person and that she shot him because he was not obeying those commands and the alleged fact that she believed her life was in danger. On this note it is worth noting that none of the reports quoting Mr. Jean’s neighbors report hearing a female voice shouting anything other than  “Let me in!” and “Open up!” and that there are no reports of anyone hearing Guyger identify herself as a police officer, which would normally be something you would expect to hear a police officer say before shooting someone.

One of the more controversial aspects of the trial was the fact that Guyger’s lawyers were effectively invoking the Castle Doctrine, which gives a person almost complete immunity to defend themselves inside their home or certain other places such as an automobile. In some sense, it is related to the controversial Stand Your Ground Doctrine, although the legal protections granted by the second defense go far beyond one’s home or other personal space to include encounters in public. Additionally, the Castle Doctrine predates Stand Your Ground laws by many decades and has support in long-standing self-defense laws. In any case, the defense argued that they should be allowed to rely on the defense and, in a decision that the prosecution strongly objected to, the presiding judge ruled that the jury could consider the defense but it would have essentially required the jury to find that Guyger’s belief that she was in her apartment was reasonable. Obviously the jury did not find this belief to be reasonable under the circumstances.

As noted, Guyger could be sentenced to anything ranging from 5 to 99 years in prison, or to life in prison. The sentencing process begins at 1:00 p.m. Central Time today, but it is unclear if this is merely the beginning of the process or if the case will continue much as it would if this were a case where the prosecution was pursuing the death penalty.

Based on the evidence, it’s clear that this conviction is entirely justified. Guyger’s claim that she thought she was in her own apartment has ever been credible. Even if it was, the prosecution established that Guyger failed to follow proper police procedures, which would include calling for backup and identifying herself as a police officer. Guyger did neither of these things and instead murdered Mr. Jean, a Haitian immigrant, in cold blood. As a result, this verdict is entirely justified.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    If the apartment was dark, how could she see Jean’s hands, as she claimed to ask. And…who sits in the dark eating a bowl of ice cream? Watching tv maybe, but eating?

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  2. mattbernius says:

    Yesterday, when the Judge allowed the jury to consider the Castle Doctrine, I was genuinely worried that the hail mary would work. I was honestly relieved when the verdict came in.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Basically, her defense was “I’m a cop! Cops never lie about the killings they commit.” which anybody who has even a passing acquaintance with YouTube knows better than to believe.

    @CSK: I have eaten ice cream a time or 2 by the light of my TV.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    That was quick. Apparently none of the poo the defense was flinging stuck.

  5. CSK says:

    The trajectory of the shot was downward, which means Jean was sitting when he was hit by the bullet, not walking aound.

  6. KM says:

    When I heard about the Castle Doctrine allowance, I damn near choked on my coffee. If anyone had a right to invoke it, it would have been Jean since he was in his own freaking castle. No, what they were trying to do was imply that it was the gun that granted “castleship” and not ownership of an item or protection of self. In other words, he who has the gun owns your sh*t… and your life. This is an incredible leap from “clear defense of self or property” to “idk where I am oh well mine now bang!”

    Even a 2A enthusiast would stop to ponder what it would mean for a criminal to “mistakenly” think your house was theirs and get rid of the “intruders” sitting in front of their ready-to-fence 4K TV. The whole point of Castle was to protect *you*, not the guy busting in your front door. I would imagine that the jury, on top of seeing the shamelessly manipulative tearfest that passed for her testimony, would think “that could have been me” and realize if they acquitted her, it just might when they set a precedent.

    I want to believe they did the right thing because it was the right thing but there’s this suspicion in the back of my mind they heard her Castle plea and realized it was a bridge too far even for TX. That being said, well done jury. You’ve managed what others before have failed to do and delivered justice.

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  7. Monala says:

    @KM: While I agree wholeheartedly with your comment, some are suggesting that by invoking the Castle defense for the jury’s consideration, the judge is preventing it from being used in appeal.

  8. Mister Bluster says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:..I have eaten ice cream a time or 2 by the light of my TV.

    Even when you were watching Dark Shadows?

  9. Kathy says:

    I’ve gone into the wrong floor a couple of times, even the wrong building once. You realize it at once, because what you expect to see is not there or it’s different.

    I also wonder how she got the door open if it wasn’t her apartment. I suppose not everyone locks their doors, but it’s odd.

  10. KM says:

    @Monala:
    I’ve heard that but not I’m not that optimistic or generous. That’s a hell of a needless gamble to take – what if the jury had agreed it was valid and used it as an excuse? Just because a rationale is offered upon appeal doesn’t mean it’s automatically acceptable as the judge needed to OK it. One of the reasons it was so shocking it was accepted was *because* most wouldn’t allow it due to absurdity.

    I can’t really give the judge the benefit of the doubt here as much as I want to. It’s an absurd defense and flies in the face of the intent of the doctrine. The best I can say is the judge was trying to be neutral and/ or impartial and allowed a bizarre defense for a clearly defenseless client. But thinking 12 steps ahead to preempt an appeal? Nope, not buying it.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: Heh, gotta ask tho: Is Dark Shadows a TV show or a movie? We don’t have “TV” but we do watch movies on our TV and DVD collections of worthy TV shows.

  12. Paul L. says:

    @KM:
    MomDemand Harpy @shannonrwatts

    A judge has ruled a jury can consider the Castle Doctrine – basically a Stand Your Ground law – during deliberations to determine whether a Texas woman should be punished for entering the wrong apartment and fatally shooting an unarmed Black man.

    But here’s the bottom line: Castle Doctrine measures and Stand Your Ground laws pushed by the @NRA are racist. We must stop them and roll them back.

    No mention the woman was a cop and the Law Enforcement caste has Federal Stand Your Ground protections on steroids.
    Watts left that out of her narrative because it is her group’s position only the police should have assault weapons of war.

    Amber Guyger might have been found not guilt if her defense didn’t have her testify instead of “the shamelessly manipulative tearfest that passed for her testimony”and didn’t invoke Castle Doctrine.

    Amber Guyger might be able to claim ineffective assistance of counsel.

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  13. de stijl says:

    @Paul L.:

    That take on this outcome is disturbing.

  14. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I woke up super early this morning – like 4AM. I was hungry. I made a tomato sauce with bacon and diced pork loin with campanelle at 5AM and ate it in the dark while replaying Saints Row 1.

    I feel you.

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  15. Teve says:

    @de stijl: Paul’s a Trumper. If you stare at Mr. Jean’s picture for a while you might discover the reason for Paul’s position.

  16. mattbernius says:

    @de stijl:

    That take on this outcome is disturbing.

    People with an axe to grind will always find a way to grind it.

    Generally speaking, he’s right about qualified immunity. It’s something that should be done away with or, at the very least, deeply curtailed. Unfortunately, most elected members* of both parties have no desire to go near it.

    * – I can’t speak for the Republican side, but there are a number of justice reform Democrats who have expressed some interest in the topic. However, federal law enforcement reform options are sorely limited due to the structure of the US. And any type of justice reform (versus prison reform) is still a 3rd rail in the US.

    @Teve
    Paul has been been harping on qualified immunity for as long as he’s been posting here. Unfortunately, like most of his performance art posts, its hard to understand what he’s trying to say.

    Nothing in that particular posting had anything to do with race. His aversion to gun control? Yes. His deep distrust of police/law enforcement/prosecutors? Yes again.

    But zero on race.

    And he’s, generally speaking, correct about the issues with qualified immunity. Its a huge issue (and getting rid of it or severely limiting it would actually be a huge step towards achieving racial justice in the criminal justice system).

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  17. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:
    Ok, need to correct myself, in this case Paul wasn’t referring to Qualified Immunity, he was referring to the “Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act” — what confuses me is that his characterization of the law as “Federal Stand Your Ground protections on steroids” makes no sense (hence why I thought he was talking about qualified immunity).

    Unless I’ve missed something all LEOSA does is allow qualified officers (and retired officers) to conceal carry in any jurisdiction regardless of local regulations. There’s no protection within the statutes (unless again I missed it) to offer “stand your ground” protections.

    But hey, I’m doing my best to interpret performance posting, so who knows.

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  18. Gustopher says:

    @mattbernius:

    Nothing in that particular posting had anything to do with race.

    He is bringing in a random quote of someone somewhere calling Stand Your Ground racist.

    His performance is muddled and confusing, as he is grinding too many axes at once.

  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kathy:

    I also wonder how she got the door open if it wasn’t her apartment. I suppose not everyone locks their doors, but it’s odd.

    Guyger’s testimony was that the door was ajar.

  20. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Guyger’s testimony was pretty much bullsh!t from beginning to end. Forensics indicated she shot Jean while he was seated.

  21. Neil Hudelson says:

    How could she possibly be guilty? After all, they found marijuana in Jean’s apartment.

    /sarcasm

  22. mattbernius says:

    @Gustopher:

    He is bringing in a random quote of someone somewhere calling Stand Your Ground racist.

    FWIW, He’s quoting Shannon Watts, who’s a well known gun control advocate, posting after the the announcement that the jury could consider the Castle doctrine.

    And she’s right that in general the application of Stand Your Ground laws in many places have been essentially racist. But that’s off topic.

    Honestly, the reason many of us in the Criminal Justice space were holding our breath about this decision was due to the large amount of deference provided to police (which is ultimately part of Paul’s axe). The news that the jury could consider the Castle Doctrine was a big shock to a lot of us. That, plus the issue of qualified immunity (which shouldn’t even have applied here as she was off duty), were really concerning.

  23. Mister Bluster says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:..Dark Shadows

    The Dark Shadows I was thinking of was a daytime soap opera that ran late 60s early 70s when I was allegedly in college. It was about vampires and other occult characters and was a big hit with alot of the hippies.
    I never “got into it” as my ability to suspend disbelief is very specific.
    For example I can’t watch very many movies that rely on acceptance of the supernatural because after all there really just aren’t any outer space aliens in my neighborhood.
    However I can totally accept the notion that humans and ‘toons live in the same universe.
    I just know that Jessica Rabbit is real.

  24. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster: @OzarkHillbilly:

    It was also 2012 movie directed by Tim Burton starring – Surprise! – Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. It was awful.

    However bad you think it could possibly be, it was four times worse. Everyone’s worst impulses came to the fore.

    Depp was remarkably bad. His prep work now consists of him picking a hat and a voice. He was once good. It’s sad.

  25. Teve says:

    @de stijl: I heard there were some allegations that he beat up a girlfriend. Did that ever turn out to be true or false?

  26. Barry says:

    @KM: “Even a 2A enthusiast would stop to ponder what it would mean for a criminal to “mistakenly” think your house was theirs and get rid of the “intruders” sitting in front of their ready-to-fence 4K TV.”

    I’m willing to bet that 90% of them are white, and would assume that the ‘Castle Doctrine’ only protects white people entering residences of non-white people.

  27. Gustopher says:

    @mattbernius:

    Generally speaking, he’s right about qualified immunity. It’s something that should be done away with or, at the very least, deeply curtailed. Unfortunately, most elected members* of both parties have no desire to go near it.

    * – I can’t speak for the Republican side, but there are a number of justice reform Democrats who have expressed some interest in the topic. However, federal law enforcement reform options are sorely limited due to the structure of the US

    Given that the number of police involved in these bad shootings is relatively small, I basically am in favor of an adjusted qualified immunity provided it leads to the officer finding another career.

    It’s an injustice to not prosecute officers fully, but I think the fear of someday being the officer who makes a mistake makes the other officers strongly incentivized to lie to protect other officers.

    For harm reduction, I’m willing to try letting police basically get one murder for free, in hopes that reducing the consequences of errors in judgement or just plain shooting someone breaks the blue wall of silence and allows police to police themselves better. We can call the murdering police victims of poor training if it gets them and those like them off the street.

  28. Mister Bluster says:

    @Gustopher:..I’m willing to try letting police basically get one murder for free,..

    I’m not…

    How Many Cops Are There in the United States? (2018 Update)
    According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in general purpose police agencies — local PDs, sheriff’s offices, and state police — there were 701,000 full-time sworn officers in 2016 — down from 724,000 officers in 2013.

  29. Hal_10000 says:

    I’m honestly surprised at the verdict. I was sure they were going to acquit.

  30. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    Given that the number of police involved in these bad shootings is relatively small, I basically am in favor of an adjusted qualified immunity provided it leads to the officer finding another career.

    The number of police involved in covering up murder is not small.

    You’re stating what was basically my going-in position a few decades ago, back when cops as a rule didn’t shoot first. Since then, the police of America as a collective tribe have pissed away all of that goodwill. I get angry about Tamir Rice every single day, all over again.

  31. de stijl says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Wait until the sentencing. She could well end up with the performatively contrite white person sentence.

  32. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT: I don’t think we are going to get real justice in more than a handful of cases. So few that it’s basically nothing. And the police officers who get fired or resign after these incidents end up getting a job as a police officer somewhere else.

    Given that we are basically completely failing, I think we should look at alternatives that can get the worst police off the job and cut the incentives to cover up the incidents — and I’m willing to sacrifice the jail time for the shooters that we never seem to get anyway. (This is a weird case, where the shooter being a cop is almost irrelevant)

    I’d suggest immunity from prosecution for what they testify to under oath, with the club of continuing to try to prosecute if they don’t cooperate. See if cutting the stakes breaks up the police covering for each other. Maybe balance it with mandatory de-escalation training.

    And, if it doesn’t work out, we can go back to continuing to fail to prosecute and convict.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: Jessica Rabbit isn’t bad, she’s just drawn that way.

  34. Mike says:

    The racist texts on her phone won’t go well in sentencing. If you carry a gun and use it, you better be right. That’s what these militarized police and 2nd amendment living room warriors need to realize.

  35. mattbernius says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I get angry about Tamir Rice every single day, all over again.

    Let’s not forget that the individual who shot him is, last I checked, still a sworn law officer — just in another location.

    In fact that’s a pattern due to the fragmented nature of law enforcement and criminal justice in the US. You find that individuals who have had issues like patterns of excessive force complaints losing their jobs in one force only to get hired in another one elsewhere in the US.

  36. Bill says:

    @mattbernius:

    In fact that’s a pattern due to the fragmented nature of law enforcement and criminal justice in the US. You find that individuals who have had issues like patterns of excessive force complaints losing their jobs in one force only to get hired in another one elsewhere in the US.

    Remember Jeff Payne? He was fired by the Salt Lake City police but has been hired as a prison guard.

  37. Blue Galangal says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I get angry about Tamir Rice every single day, all over again.

    Me too. Me too.

  38. Mikey says:

    She was just sentenced to 10 years in prison.

    10 years. For murder.

    What. The. Actual. Fuck.

  39. An Interested Party says:

    I’m honestly surprised at the verdict. I was sure they were going to acquit.

    With the sentence she received they might as well have acquitted her…

  40. Bill says:

    @Mikey:

    10 years. For murder.

    It is twice as much as the Dallas cop got for this.

  41. EddieInCA says:

    10 years? With time for good behavior, she will be out in six. She’ll still be less than 40 years old and can still have life. Jean Botham was 26 effing years old.

    I hope his estate sues the shit out of her civilly, so that every freaking penny she earns goes to his family.

    10 years? WHAT. A. F**KING JOKE!

    Imagine, just for a moment, that a black male officer killed an innocent white woman inside her own apartment. Would he be getting only 10 years, all other things being equal? NO. I didn’t think so.

  42. CSK says:

    @An Interested Party: What’s even worse is that she’s eligible for parole in five years.

  43. Roger says:

    @An Interested Party: “With the sentence she received they might as well have acquitted her…”
    Spoken like someone who’s never seen the inside of a prison. Since I wasn’t at the trial to hear and see the evidence, I don’t really have an opinion as to whether 10 years was too light a sentence, too heavy, or about right, but I can guarantee you that 10 years in the penitentiary is a hell of a lot worse than an acquittal.

  44. mattbernius says:

    @An Interested Party:

    With the sentence she received they might as well have acquitted her…

    This is so ignorant it honestly makes my head spin.

    I honestly, cannot even. What Roger said and more.

    Look, I think this was, without a doubt a light sentence from an traditional American criminal justice perspective. And I 100% agree with the many comparisons with other cases of people rotting in prison for lesser offenses.

    HOWEVER, if people want to really be serious about reforming criminal justice systems, advancing racial equity (among other forms of equity), and ending mass incarceration – the conversation needs to be about how to reduce and mitigate those longer sentences (retroactively eliminate 3 strike rules and mandatory minimums, etc) rather than ask how to increase individual sentences.

    If this pisses you off then turn your energies to that, not throwing away another life and supporting the prison state by bitching that a sentence wasn’t long enough (fwiw, this is well in line with European standards).

    But the secret truth of the American system is everyone loves long sentences for the people that they think deserve them. And that’s the shit that both sides mainline into their veins.

    Aside (because I know it will come) — YES, without a doubt I think her race, gender, and past as a cop played into the sentence that she got. That can be true AND it also be true that we should be advocating to change the system so that everyone else gets that sort of treatment.

  45. mattbernius says:

    Also, since I work with Criminal Justice data, it’s always worth going to analysis:

    Persons sentenced for murder or non-negligent manslaughter served an average of 15 years in state prison before their initial release.

    Negligent manslaughter mean time in prison is 5.2

    Source: https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/tssp16.pdf

    This is the most recent BJS report from 2016

  46. An Interested Party says:

    Spoken like someone who’s never seen the inside of a prison.

    This is so ignorant it honestly makes my head spin.

    Yes, of course, because Botham Jean’s murder was nothing…nothing at all…

    HOWEVER, if people want to really be serious about reforming criminal justice systems, advancing racial equity (among other forms of equity), and ending mass incarceration – the conversation needs to be about how to reduce and mitigate those longer sentences (retroactively eliminate 3 strike rules and mandatory minimums, etc) rather than ask how to increase individual sentences.

    All of those things need to done, I am in total agreement with you, I just think of someone who was sitting in his own home, completely minding his own business, when a cop (of all people) comes into to his home and murders him…and, as you wrote, of course her ethnicity, gender, and career as a cop played a part in her sentence…ironically, a sentence far more lenient than it would have been if Jean had murdered her…

  47. mattbernius says:

    @An Interested Party:

    All of those things need to done, I am in total agreement with you, I just think of someone who was sitting in his own home, completely minding his own business, when a cop (of all people) comes into to his home and murders him…and, as you wrote, of course her ethnicity, gender, and career as a cop played a part in her sentence…ironically, a sentence far more lenient than it would have been if Jean had murdered her…

    And again, righteous anger is what leads to mandatory minimums which lead to longer sentences which leads to mass incarceration.

    The righteous desire to morally punish is the drug that we love to inject into our veins and then wonder why we have so many people in prison.

  48. An Interested Party says:

    And again, righteous anger is what leads to mandatory minimums which lead to longer sentences which leads to mass incarceration.

    The righteous desire to morally punish is the drug that we love to inject into our veins and then wonder why we have so many people in prison.

    So about 6 years or so in prison for murdering someone is the price that has to be paid to avoid mandatory minimums and mass incarceration…

  49. EddieInCA says:

    @mattbernius: @Roger:

    Sorry guys. Given the Texas statutes, she will be out in less than six years. F*ck that.

    We either have a fair system or we don’t. I posit that we don’t, and this is one more freaking example of it.

    I have been inside a prison. Many times. As a former cop, she will be protected. She won’t have to deal with the usual BS of being a prisoner. And she’ll be out in less than six years.

    The man was sitting at home, watching TV and eating ice cream, and a cop walked into HIS house, and shot him dead. Bullshit if you think that sentence is fair.

    Prison SHOULD be for murders and the like. This wasn’t a “non-violent offender”. She walked into man’s home and SHOT HIM DEAD.

    Yes. I want criminal justice reform, but in no world do I want Criminal Justice Reform that gives a cop only 10 freaking years for walking into an innocent man’s house and shooting him dead. Fvck that.

  50. mattbernius says:

    @An Interested Party:

    So about 6 years or so in prison for murdering someone is the price that has to be paid to avoid mandatory minimums and mass incarceration…

    Potentially yes.

    Here’s something else to get rightously angry about:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/25/world/europe/anders-behring-breivik-murder-trial.html

    Anders Behring killed 77 people and got a maximum sentence of 21 years! Clearly they should switch to a mass incarceration state over there to prevent those types of injustices from happening in the future!

    Or hey read about how life-sentences in Germany are only 15 years:
    https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/06/18/can-german-prisons-teach-america-how-to-handle-its-most-violent-criminals

    Yes. I want criminal justice reform, but in no world do I want Criminal Justice Reform that gives a cop only 10 freaking years for walking into an innocent man’s house and shooting him dead. Fvck that.

    All those brown people rotting in prison for 3 strike crimes salute your righteous woke anger.

    Look — I get I’m being a bit of scold. But spend time working with prison abolitionists and folks working on the ground on mandatory minimums and you have to learn to occupy these deeply uncomfortable spaces.

    The reality is we need to deal with our desire to punish the shit out of violent crimes. And find different pathways. Again, the more you focus this conversation on *why isn’t her sentence longer* the more you move us away from *why aren’t all these other sentences shorter.*

    Addendum 2 – none of this excuses what she did. And while some of Jean’s family have shown impossible grace towards her, this isn’t a call to forgive or forget.

    And I 100% acknowledge that if the situation was reversed I don’t think the sentence would have been as light. But that’s the core of the issue.

  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattbernius:

    Paul has been been harping on qualified immunity for as long as he’s been posting here. Unfortunately, like most of his performance art posts, its hard to understand what he’s trying to say.

    True dat! I find it hard to tell which side he’s on every time he rants about it.

  52. mattbernius says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    True dat! I find it hard to tell which side he’s on every time he rants about it.

    Oh, without a doubt he’s on it from the sovereign citizen side. No question. Based on his pattern he’s regularly checking for black helicopters.

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattbernius: The abyss in which resides the cynical side of my soul (no! I’m not completely cynical 🙁 yet) finds itself torn between three options on this verdict.
    1) Maybe the jury was actually impartial and not racist and decided the case on its merits.
    2) Maybe the jurors have had their own issues with police and were disposed to finding guilt (possibly out of spite).
    3) Maybe the jury was composed of more misogynistic elements of the society who went on the deep rooted principle “this is the sort of thing that always happens when you let wimmin folk join the police and give ’em guns.” (Years ago, I knew a young woman who was a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company who was asked “how is it that a pretty young woman like you wanted to take away a man’s job” at nearly every call when she was in Texas–by men and women alike (!!). I s’pects that not much has changed.)

  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Now you see, that’s how you and I are different. I’m in favor of officers being incarcerated in general population at maximum security institutions.

  55. EddieInCA says:

    @mattbernius:

    Oh Bullshit Matt. Don’t compare our culture and society with that of Germany and Norway. I’ve lived in both. Oslo for a year (17 Gimleveien in the Frogner section of Oslo), and Heidelberg for 14 months (Speyerer Straße 9/ Gottlieb- Daimler- Straße). I’d gladly trade our system for either of theirs, but I can’t.

    They don’t have our guns. They don’t have our violence. They don’t have our drug problems. They don’t have a homeless problem. Their police interact with citizens in completely different manners. They have a system that is more equitable across the board. So please, please, spare me the comparisons to countries unlike us, and the “woke” ad hominem. I’d gladly go go a Norwegian or German social justice model if we can also do the rest that makes those countries what they are.

    Most third strikers aren’t there for violent crimes. It’s would pretty damn easy to separate the violent crimes from non-violent crimes. I do want violent people locked up after they commit heinous crimes, and it needs to be long enough to be a deterrent and punitive.

    Again. This woman walked into a man’s home, and shot him dead while he ate ice cream. Full stop.

    As someone who lost someone to murder 20 years ago, I can tell you that if that killer was ever caught, and he/she was given only six years, I’d hunt him/her down and kill them myself just for the pain caused to my family the last 20 years and the next 20 that we will suffer. I can tell you from experience that the pain of losing someone to a violent crime never ever leaves you.

    Jean Botham was 26. His siblings and parents won’t ever get over it.

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  56. mattbernius says:

    @EddieInCA:
    That’s a textbook case of exactly why we are mass incarceration state — not to mention just wrong on more points that I have time to correct (currently in flight to a conference for formerly incarcerated women and trying to finish a presentation).

    I suggest starting the John Pfaff’s quick primer on this topic — in particular the “non-violent” thing:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths/five-myths-about-prisons/2019/05/16/953304ea-7759-11e9-b3f5-5673edf2d127_story.html

  57. Karl says:

    This judgement was a travesty.
    I have yet to hear one person offer what would be even a remotely-plausible motive for this “murder”.
    Do you seriously expect a rational person to believe that Ms. Guyger–who, as an experienced officer of over 5 years–just chose to barge into a stranger’s apartment and shoot him–a man whom she didn’t even know, and had no history with, and presumably would never even have known was Black before “choosing” that apartment in which to presumably commit this presumedly “premeditated” “murder”??? WHY? For……what reason, exactly? Like she wouldn’t have had any number of infinitely more opportunistic opportunities to stage something in a situational crisis/arrest environment where the victim could much more plausibly be described as having been a danger or resisting arrest?

    WHAT WAS THE MOTIVE?!?

    Science has proved that fatigue can mimic alcoholic inebriation. (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/tired-sleep-drunk-symptoms-effects-drink-alcohol-fatigue-study-research-latest-a8040721.html) Ms. Guyger had just finished a 14-hour work shift–and who knows how many hours she’d worked the day(s) before? Listen to the 911 call-Guyger says no less than 19 times: “I thought I was in my [own] apartment” and then “How the fuck did I…?” and later “I’m so tired!”.

    Listen to the 911 call: Guyger can be heard–obviously in distress, shock, and genuinely regretful–speaking to the victim, repeatedly apologizing, saying “I’m sorry, stay with me bud”, and court records show that she “provided medical care” to the victim. What kind of “racist” “murderer” says/does THAT?!

    WHAT WAS THE MOTIVE?!?!

    Make no mistake–this was a grievous tragedy, and a horrible, tragic occurrence. But “murder” IT WAS NOT. This was NOT an example of a “racist cop shooting an unarmed, innocent Black man”. There are waaaay too many mitigating factors here which conclusively point to Guyger’s confusion and genuine fatigue BEFORE the incident, as well as her obvious regret and concern for the victim AFTER it, to warrant a murder charge, much less a conviction. Negligent Manslaughter would have been a much more appropriate charge.

    Like the “jury negation” in the trial of O.J. Simpson where, after similar contemporary events of that era led to a jury to “pay back” the Justice System for perceived injustices against the Black community by finding Simpson innocent, this case seems to be a case of “payback” against a convenient target whose social media posts and comments–while regrettably being alternately prejudicial, admittedly racist and/or flippant– were mistaken for actual INTENT. Prejudicial racism does NOT equate to “murderous intent”. Flippant, allegedly “violent” posts which were more indicative of frustration and probably fatigue could probably be found on thousands of average citizens’ social media accounts where an individual makes a hyperbolic statement to blow off steam. Again, I assert that if this was truly Guyger’s true “intent”, she could have/would have had ample opportunity to express this and act on it in situations which would have been much more favorable to immunity and reasonable actions in the line of her work and which were not in such an inopportune time as the end of her long shift. But we’re supposed to believe that, after a 14-hour work day, she would have somehow INTENDED to stage a murder of an innocent man, knowing the shit-storm that that would put her in, the required procedural mandates immediately following the incident WHEN SHE WAS ANTICIPATING AN IMMINENT NIGHT OF SEX WITH HER LONG-TIME PARTNER?

    Yeah, that makes sense. NOT.

    Yes, Guyger was an admitted racist. Yes, she expressed misanthropic, violent, probably-flippant thoughts. But to believe that this regrettable, unfortunate shooting was a D-E-L-I-B-E-R-A-T-E “murder” is to extend one’s own prejudices and cynicism beyond the bounds of both actual logic and the very legal definitions of what constitutes “Murder” vs “Manslaughter”. Simply stated, “Murder” requires intent. “Malice”. Pre-meditation. There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that this was present in the heart or mind of the defendant. The is no plausible reason why she would have chosen a total stranger whose racial identity she presumably DID NOT KNOW and had no prior history with beforehand when she entered that wrong apartment. To imagine that she DID would implausibly profile Guyger as a murderously violent sociopath who, by some miracle, avoided prior detection through a police career that spanned 5+ years.

    I feel for the victim’s family and friends. This was a tragedy, and probably preventable on many levels. Ms Guyger obviously had need of counseling in terms of her coping skills and attitudes toward Blacks and possibly other minorities. She screwed up big-time in neglecting key aspects of her training. But a murderer, she is NOT.

    Personally, I’m saddened at the vitriol and vindictiveness of the comments against her expressed here. such as the oversimplified ignorance of what was expressed as “This woman walked into a man’s home, and shot him dead while he ate ice cream. Full stop.”. No, not exactly. THAT statement implies MOTIVE, which was NOT evident here. I would ask the commentators to examine their own prejudices and biases against both White police officers and law enforcement in general. Yes, there are bad actors out there, but there are in any given profession, and of the huge numbers of those serving in the force, it is an unfortunate fact that the worst examples give an exaggerated poor impression of the whole.

    Ms. Guyger is unquestionably responsible for this innocent man’s tragic death. But a murderer SHE IS NOT.

  58. An Interested Party says:

    One of the reasons for long sentences is the idea that some people need to be kept away from society for our own safety. Someone like Guyger who shoots first and doesn’t even bother to ask questions later is the kind of person you wonder if they can be “rehabilitated”. That kind of mindset doesn’t just go away – the entitlement and carelessness of “feared for my life” shootings is a personality flaw you’d need to work hard to erase.

    This is why she should have received a longer sentence…it’s not about “righteous anger” or the “righteous desire to morally punish”…and her receiving a longer sentence would not take away from the idea that mandatory minimums and mass incarceration are wrong and should be ended…

    I would ask the commentators to examine their own prejudices and biases against both White police officers and law enforcement in general.

    White police officers and law enforcement in general didn’t kill Botham Jean…only Amber Guyger did that…

  59. EddieInCA says:

    @Karl:

    Karl, while I appreciate your passion, you’re just wrong on the facts.

    Here’s the relevant statute from the Texas Penal code:

    Under Section 19.01 of the Penal Code it states: “A person commits criminal homicide if he intentionally, knowingly, or with criminal negligence causes the death of an individual.” In Texas, there are four types of criminal homicide: 1) murder, 2) capital murder, 3) manslaughter, and 4) criminally negligent homicide.

    I’d argue, and the jury agreed, that she was criminally negligent, hence murder is the absolute correct charge.

  60. Monala says:

    @EddieInCA: Probably without realizing it, Karl is arguing that this wasn’t a hate crime. Which she wasn’t charged with.

  61. Karl says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Not to be argumentative, and with all due respect to your opinion, you are in fact incorrect in your citation of the statutes and their definitions in regard to this case. And if the jury decided based upon a similar misunderstanding, then they are wrong as well.

    “Criminally negligent homicide” is defined as “…when an individual acted negligently in a way that they did something they should have known was a gross deviation from what a reasonable person would have done and it caused the death of an individual.” (https://definitions.uslegal.com/n/negligent-homicide/)

    This is most often seen in deaths involving people who recklessly or “negligently” operate motor vehicles, airplanes, boats, etc, in a manner which causes the death of an individual. In Texas, running a red light, putting on makeup in a car while driving, etc, can apparently be charged as “criminal negligence” if a person is seriously injured or killed.

    In this case, Amber Guyger did not exercise good judgment and may or may not have deviated from standard police procedure (she apparently did issue standard commands), but that is not criminal negligence as defined. She was not acting in a negligent manner in that her judgment was impaired by the imbibing of illegal or mind-altering substances, nor was her fatigue caused by factors of her own reckless choosing. She believed that she was in her own apartment, and as a police officer, confronted what she believed was an intruder. Witnesses reported hearing her issue commands before firing. I’m no expert, but I believe that this would indeed be “standard” procedure?

    The link I previously posted details the effect of fatigue on the human decision-making process and the delays in processing information within the brain.

    The whole situation is tragic, and regrettable, but I can see no way to justify a charge or actual “murder”. Murder needs INTENT. I beg you, if you are going to defend your position, give me an actual motive or reason for her “murdering” this man? With all the reports I’ve read on this case, I’ve still yet to read one plausible, fact-supported explanation.

  62. EddieInCA says:

    @Karl:

    The whole situation is tragic, and regrettable, but I can see no way to justify a charge or actual “murder”. Murder needs INTENT.

    Again, Karl, with all due respect. You’re wrong. At least in Texas you’re wrong. Texas doesn’t require “motive” to charge murder. You’re confusing “motive” with intent. She had intent. The moment she pulled out her gun and fired, she had “intent”. She intended to kill him when she pulled out her gun and shot him twice in the chest. That’s the whole case. “Motive” is irrelevant in Texas.

    https://www.medlinfirm.com/blog/the-difference-between-manslaughter-and-murder-in-texas/

    In order to be charged with murder, the defendant must have knowingly and willingly caused the death of another person. The biggest distinguishing factor between murder and manslaughter involves the intent of the perpetrator. If the defendant intended to cause serious bodily harm or death, or intended to commit a felony other than manslaughter that resulted in death, he or she can be charged with murder

    .

    You’re stuck on “motive”, which might be applicable in other states. It’s not in Texas.

    https://statelaws.findlaw.com/texas-law/texas-first-degree-murder-laws.html

    Overview of Texas First Degree Murder Laws

    Texas does not officially use the term “first degree murder” which can sometimes be a little bit confusing. Instead, the equivalent in Texas is known as “capital murder,” which is murder for which a perpetrator can get a sentence of capital punishment. To convict a defendant of capital murder, prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

    –The defendant intentionally and knowingly caused the death of another person;
    –The defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury and committed an act that was clearly dangerous to human life and this act caused the death of an individual; or
    –The defendant committed or attempted to commit a felony (other than manslaughter) and in performing that felony, committed an act that was clearly dangerous to human life and this act caused the death of an individual.

    Based on Texas law, she was charged properly. Unfortunately, in my opinion, she was not sentenced properly.

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  63. Karl says:

    @EddieInCA:
    I will give you that there is a reasonable argument to be made that, under the rather ambiguous definition of what constitutes “intent” in Texas, she may have been justifiably charged–IN TEXAS—but only if you are to go so far as to believe that she “intended” to kill this man out of pure malice or recklessness. If you read the development of this story, the public and media both seemed to stoke the narrative that this was “just another White cop shooting an unarmed Black man” as if the actual facts could be compared to those heinous, blatant crimes which have indeed been documented in recent well-known cases. Once that ball got rolling, objective analysis seemed hopeless under all of the outrage and emotion.

    But a careful and honest reading of the circumstances of this crime demands the admission that, if she believed that she was in her own apartment, and therein she encountered a stranger who ignored her standard police commands as she had been trained to give, whom she then shot out of fear for her own safety, then she did not INTEND to just “knowingly kill” this person without other evident reason or justification, as if out of malice, recklessness, or vindictiveness. This would then rightfully qualify as an act of reasonable self-defense in just about any court that I could imagine….except, obviously, Texas. (anyone surprised?) In fact, I rarely ever agree with that “Castle Doctrine” defense, but in this case it is reasonably applicable if she indeed believed that she was in her own apartment. And if you still believe that that was impossible, an article that I read claimed that “It was apparently a common mistake at the South Side Flats, though. Fifteen percent of residents interviewed told Texas Rangers they’d gone to the wrong floor and tried to enter an apartment that wasn’t theirs. Most who made the mistake did so on the very floors where Guyger and Jean lived.”(from https://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/editorials/article235555602.html#storylink=cpy)

    We’ll have to disagree. This verdict is so skewed that I can’t believe people can’t admit the blatant political bias behind it. And knowing the facts as they stand, I can’t believe that you would think that this woman deserved more time for what was–after all was said and done–simply an honest, and tragic mistake. I guess that it’s easier to blame a convenient target in this case than it is to accept that sometimes inexplicably tragic events DO indeed happen for which there are no easy answers or ways to mitigate the pain of their circumstances. That seems to be the case here IMO.