Shooting By Off-Duty Dallas Policewoman Raises Far More Questions Than It Answers

The shooting of Botham Jean by off-duty Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger earlier this month seems like a clear cut murder. So why is she only charged with manslaughter?

A police officer in Dallas is facing manslaughter charges in connection with an off-duty shooting that has raised more questions than it has answered:

DALLAS — Botham Shem Jean analyzed risk for a living at a global auditing firm. For someone in his line of work, the evening was shaping up to be as risk-free as it gets: Alone, in his one-bedroom apartment one block from the Dallas Police Department headquarters.

Fresh from work, he had texted his sister his evening plans: Watching a football game on TV, the Eagles versus the Falcons. He texted a friend, apologizing for not going out with her the weekend before. Mr. Jean, 26, was from the island-nation of St. Lucia. He had a big smile, and was a big eater, winning a meat-lovers’ contest at Big Chef Steak House back in the Caribbean. He still had his ticket for a free meal on his next visit, his prize after eating a two-pound steak in one sitting.

Unit 1478 on the fourth floor of the South Side Flats apartment complex was an 800-square-foot bachelor pad: dishes piled up in the sink, with pancake syrup, dish soap and other belongings adding to the clutter on the kitchen island. It was the evening of September 6. His 27th birthday was three weeks away.

In a matter of hours, Mr. Jean would be dead. A white off-duty police officer who lived in Unit 1378 — directly below Mr. Jean — claimed that she mistakenly entered the wrong apartment after returning home from her 14-hour shift and believed Mr. Jean, who is black, was an intruder. Officer Amber R. Guyger, 30, fired her service weapon twice, striking him once in the torso.

He was later pronounced dead at a hospital, his death now the center of a mystery that has angered and puzzled Dallas and beyond.

The racial profiling of black men and women by white police officers put new phrases into the American vocabulary — driving while black, walking while black, shopping while black. The shooting of Mr. Jean seemed to demand its own, even more disturbing version: being at home while black.

The fatal shooting has become the latest, and most bizarre, confrontation between an unarmed black man and a white officer, angering many who say they simply do not believe the officer’s account. In a city with a decades-old history of racial divisions, the case has again heightened tensions. Protesters chanted and disrupted a City Council meeting on Wednesday, and threats against the police have poured in. Officers have said they believe Officer Guyger’s version of events, while many in the black community — and many white residents as well — do not. City officials and other leaders have been caught in the middle.

“This is the worst sort of situation, because we all expect to be safe in our own homes,” Michael S. Rawlings, the mayor of Dallas, said in an interview. “Everybody is heartbroken. Everybody wants the same thing — let’s get the answers. This is what the mother said to me. I was sitting there talking to her Saturday morning. And she said, ‘I’m not angry, but I just want to know why this lady shot my son.'”

Officer Guyger has been charged with manslaughter and released on a $300,000 bond, and numerous questions remain unanswered as the investigation continues. Mr. Jean’s relatives and his lawyers said Mr. Jean and the officer did not know each other. It’s not known whether there might have been a dispute between them as neighbors. Indeed much about what happened that night at the door of Mr. Jean’s apartment remains either unclear or in dispute.

The officer told investigators the door was slightly ajar and then fully opened when she inserted her computerized chip key; lawyers for Mr. Jean’s family said the door was closed. Officer Guyger said in court documents that when she opened the door, the apartment was dark and she saw a silhouette of someone she thought was a burglar. She said she shouted commands that were ignored. Neighbors, however, have told lawyers for Mr. Jean’s relatives that they heard someone banging on the door and shouting, “Let me in!” and “Open up!” before gunshots rang out. They said they then heard a man, presumably Mr. Jean, say, “Oh my God, why did you do that?”

Accounts of banging and shouting are puzzling, because Officer Guyger is single and lived alone, and it was unknown why she would have banged on the door if she believed she was at her own apartment.

In some ways, the drama unfolding in Dallas looks and feels similar to other high-profile police shootings of unarmed black men that have gripped the country in succession in recent years. Mr. Jean’s family is represented by Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who represented the relatives of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, as well as S. Lee Merritt, a lawyer for the family of Jordan Edwards, the 15-year-old freshman shot and killed by a white officer last year in a Dallas suburb. In an echo of past police killings, there has been anger over what seem to be attempts to incriminate the victim: Police released a search warrant that revealed that 10.4 grams of marijuana in multiple baggies had been found in Mr. Jean’s apartment.

“First they assassinate his person, then they assassinate his character,” Mr. Crump said.

(…)

Black activists, religious leaders and elected officials have all criticized the authorities for charging the officer not with murder but with the lesser charge of manslaughter. They also want to know why she was not immediately arrested at the scene, but was allowed to go free until she was officially charged three days later. They are demanding that Officer Guyger, who remains on paid administrative leave, be fired.

“The reasonableness of her explanation is what’s called into question,” said State Senator Royce West, a Democrat who is African-American and whose district includes the South Side Flats. “The question is whether or not she saw a black man and then decided to shoot. Regardless of whether or not he was in the right place or not, her first impulse appeared to be that she was going to fire her weapon.”

Robert L. Rogers, a lawyer representing Officer Guyger and a former Dallas County prosecutor, declined to comment. Officer Guyger has been a Dallas officer for four years and four months, joining the force in 2014 in her first job as a law enforcement officer in Texas.

The circumstances of Jean’s shooting and death have understandably raised far more questions than have been answered to date, largely because Officer Guyger’s version of events does not seem to make sense at all. As Mr. Jean’s relatives, for example, have noted that the idea that Guyger had somehow mistaken Jean’s fourth-floor apartment for her fifth floor home do not comport with reality. 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 question that was raised in my mind when this story first broke across social media is whether or not there might have been some previous relationship between Guyger and Jean. Neither neighbors nor Jean’s family have insinuated that this is the case, but the existence of such a relationship would potentially explain why neighbors heard Guyger demanding to be let in even though it should have been obvious she was at the wrong apartment if she was supposed to be trying to get into her own home. It would also raise the question of whether or not there might have been a motive here such as a relationship gone wrong. In that case, it would seem clear that a murder charge would be more appropriate than murder. This is admittedly speculation on my part, but given the fact that Guyger’s version of events does not make sense, and does not comport with what multiple neighbors report, it’s a possibility worth looking into.

On some level, I suppose, it is a good sign that Guyger was almost immediately charged with manslaughter and placed on administrative leave, but it is understandable that members of Mr. Jean’s family and the general public would be raising questions. As noted, Guyger’s version of events simply doesn’t make sense in the light of day. The claim on her part that the door was ajar when she arrived at what she thought was her apartment, for example, doesn’t explain why multiple neighbors report hearing a woman’s voice demanding to be let in prior to the shooting. Since Guyger lives alone and apparently had no visitors at the time of the shooting, why would she be demanding to be let in to her own home? Additionally, the fact that nobody heard Guyger identify herself as a police officer or otherwise say anything other than demanding to be let in raises questions about her version of events, as does the fact that it simply doesn’t sound credible that Guyger, a trained police officer, would somehow mistake Jean’s fourth-floor apartment door for her fifth-floor door.

This incident has also raised questions on both sides of the political aisle, with even many commentators who have defended police actions in the past questioning Guyger’s version of events. Earlier this week, for example, David French at National Review calls this the worst police shooting yet:

First, police sources are reportedly indicating that Guyger may actually try to raise the fact that Jean didn’t obey her commands as a defense. It’s not a defense. The moment she opened the door to an apartment that wasn’t her own, she wasn’t operating as a police officer clothed with the authority of the law. She was instead a criminal. She was breaking into another person’s home. She was an armed home invader, and the person clothed with the authority of law to defend himself was Botham Shem Jean.

Which brings us to the second troubling element of the story. So far, Guyger is only charged with manslaughter. But all the available evidence indicates that she intentionally shot Jean. This wasn’t a warning shot gone awry. The pistol didn’t discharge during a struggle. She committed a crime by forcing open Jean’s door, deliberately took aim, and killed him.

Texas law defines murder quite simply as “intentionally or knowingly caus[ing] the death of an individual.” Manslaughter, by contrast, occurs when a person “recklessly” causes death. Guyger’s warning and her deliberate aim scream intent. She may have “recklessly” gone to the wrong apartment, but she very intentionally killed Jean. There is a chance that the grand jury will increase the charge to murder, so the early manslaughter charge is tentative. But I ask you: If Jean had mistakenly gone to Guyger’s apartment and then gunned her down in cold blood after demanding that she follow his commands, would he face a manslaughter charge?

Finally, it’s troubling that Guyger wasn’t arrested and booked until three days after the shooting. Reportedly, Dallas police had prepared a warrant the day after the killing, but they handed the investigation over to the Texas Rangers, who put a hold on the warrant.

What’s done is done, and the delayed arrest shouldn’t have any ultimate impact on the prosecution, but when all the available evidence indicates that a cop acted outside of her lawful authority, she should receive none of the courtesies and advantages so often extended to members of law enforcement. She’s a citizen, like any other, and it is hard to imagine — again — that if the roles had been reversed Jean would have enjoyed several days of relative freedom before he was arrested and booked. He’d have been in handcuffs that night, and rightfully so.

French, of course, is absolutely correct on this point. But for the fact that she is a police officer, Guyger would have been taken into custody immediately and immediately interrogated by officers. Presumably, the reason that she wasn’t is due to the fact that Dallas police officers have protections similar to those available to officers in other parts of the country that allow them to prevent questioning for a certain period of time, sometimes as long as 2-3 days. The obvious advantage of this, of course, is that it allows an officer involved in a questionable shooting sufficient time to come up with might sound like a plausible story, something that the average criminal suspect isn’t able to do unless they invoke their right to counsel. While there might be a good argument in favor of this practice, it doesn’t always make sense. This is particularly true in this case where the shooting occurred while Guyger was off-duty. In those situations, one could make an argument that,as a matter of policy, the normal deference allowed to a police officer should not apply and people like Guyger should be treated the same way a civilian would.

In any case, there have been protests in Dallas over this incident, which is entirely understandable. There are far too many unanswered questions even at this early stage, and the fact that Officer Guyger’s story does not add up and that she is apparently receiving preferential treatment makes one suspicious to say the very least.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Race and Politics, US Politics, ,
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. mattbernius says:

    Presumably, the reason that she wasn’t is due to the fact that Dallas police officers have protections similar to those available to officers in other parts of the country that allow them to prevent questioning for a certain period of time, sometimes as long as 2-3 days. The obvious advantage of this, of course, is that it allows an officer involved in a questionable shooting sufficient time to come up with might sound like a plausible story, something that the average criminal suspect isn’t able to do unless they invoke their right to counsel. While there might be a good argument in favor of this practice, it doesn’t always make sense. This is particularly true in this case where the shooting occurred while Guyger was off-duty.

    This. So frickin’ think.

    This wasn’t an incident that occurred as part of her discharging her duty. There is no reason at all to allow her to take advantage of that policy under these circumstances.

    ReplyReply



    21



    0
  2. Modulo Myself says:

    A combination of booze or pills, stupidity, and racism explains virtually everything in this murder. Plus a gun. Guns are the greatest things ever. When aren’t they useful?

    ReplyReply



    12



    0
  3. Hal_10000 says:

    They seem to be running the standard post-shooting justification playbook, including a pointless search of his apartment that they are claiming turned up some marijuana. By the time this is over, they’ll be claiming she was attacked and had to defend herself.

    ReplyReply



    29



    0
  4. James Pearce says:

    The fatal shooting has become the latest, and most bizarre, confrontation between an unarmed black man and a white officer

    I understand why race is such a focus, but it seems to be the least relevant part of this story.

    The problem here, at least to me, is the impenetrable Blue Shield and this idea that it’s okay to shoot someone dead when you “believe” you’re in danger.

    ReplyReply



    10



    12
  5. mattbernius says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    A combination of booze or pills

    I suspect that we will eventually find out that she either is either dealing with some type of medication or using some combination of booze/drugs. That makes the announcement of the discovery of marijuana search of his apartment even more frustrating.

    Though I guess at least that discover will stop Dana Loesch’s stupid line of thought on this subject. After all, apparently the reason that the NRA was silent on the death of Philando Castile was that he had weed in the car at the time he was pulled over.

    ReplyReply



    4



    0
  6. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @James Pearce:

    I understand why race is such a focus, but it seems to be the least relevant part of this story.

    Maybe it’s not the most relevant, but it’s a pretty large part of it. Black Men are more likely to be seen as threatening and there is a history of distrust between cops and Blacks. Sure, cops can do a really crappy job in white neighborhoods, but the problem is usually larger in Black neighborhoods.

    We don’t know if this idiot woman would have shot someone like, I don’t know, Michael Reynolds if she entered his apartment. But there is a reason why Black people distrusts the police.

    ReplyReply



    15



    2
  7. Timothy Watson says:

    @Hal_10000: I would love to know how they could legally justify that search and I hope that the victim’s parents sue the shit out of the city for illegal search and seizure.

    ReplyReply



    15



    0
  8. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Pearce:

    Its relevant insofar as that African-Americans have become humans capable of doing anything at any time. In the real world, people generally out to kill cops leave trails of violence in their wake. It’s not a mystery or a puzzle. But in the world of the police, someone like Michael Brown, with no criminal record and no reason at all to threaten a police officer, obviously deserved to be shot and killed for walking down the street. It’s more dangerous to be a sanitation worker than a cop and yet cops have flocked to this paranoid and psychotic version of reality where they are under siege and it’s always Baghdad. And African-Americans have a starring role in this scam.

    ReplyReply



    15



    0
  9. @James Pearce:

    I understand why race is such a focus, but it seems to be the least relevant part of this story.

    Not surprising–I don’t think you ever think race is one of the more relevant aspect of a story.

    ReplyReply



    26



    5
  10. wr says:

    All sorts of interesting assumptions in that headline. For instance: Does a shooting by an off-duty cop generally answer questions?

    (Note: This is literary criticism only, not trying to psychoanalyze Doug!)

    ReplyReply



    0



    0
  11. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Based on his recent, bending over backward to explain why race/racism isn’t an issue, I have to agree. Especially in cases of systemic racism.

    There is something that clearly makes him deeply uncomfortable about the idea of race and systemic racism. As a result, he seems to see any calling out of racial components as somehow the type of radical behavior that causes Trump to be elected and therefore we should shut up about it to build bridges.

    That is, admittedly, is a strain of white liberalism that goes back a long way (MLK called it out in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” pretty explicitly).

    I also have to admit that the virtue signalling aspect of the way he does it is also kinda grating.

    ReplyReply



    13



    2
  12. teve tory says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Not true. James thinks race is important insofar as it negatively affects white people. 😛

    It was clear to me by last year that he is a concern troll.

    ReplyReply



    7



    4
  13. Modulo Myself says:

    I think Dave Chapelle had the joke about two cops killing an African-American burglar who was so crazy he broke in and hung pictures of his family up on the walls.

    ReplyReply



    7



    0
  14. Gustopher says:

    He was the upstairs neighbor?

    Did he walk around in hard soled shoes? Did he have a subwoofer sitting directly on the floor? I have many times fantasized about something mildly unpleasant happening to upstairs neighbors who make a lot of noise.

    I had one neighbor who would come home from the bars every night around 3am, play Portishead very loudly and walk or dance or something in high heeled shoes. Every night. Always Portishead.

    (She was a bartender, not an alcoholic, and when I finally did get frustrated enough to go upstairs, she happily agreed to take off her shoes when she got home (which turned out to be clogs, not high heels), and her husband started experimenting with ways to cut the noise from the speakers… so I didn’t have to shoot them in cold blood)

    ReplyReply



    9



    0
  15. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @mattbernius:

    There is something that clearly makes him deeply uncomfortable about the idea of race and systemic racism.

    I understand why people would be annoyed by the way that people talk about race in social media and then be annoyed by any talk about race matters. But for sure cops have special problem with Black people, specially if you are a large Black Male.

    If you are Black the general deficiencies of policing are going to hit you worse.

    ReplyReply



    10



    0
  16. Hal_10000 says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    But in the world of the police, someone like Michael Brown, with no criminal record and no reason at all to threaten a police officer, obviously deserved to be shot and killed for walking down the street.

    I agree with most of your point but let’s keep in mind that the Obama DOJ concluded that the officer’s account — that Brown attacked him — was supported by the forensic evidence and eye-witness testimony. If we’re going to have credibility when we criticize the cops for shooting someone, we have to admit when we get it wrong (modulo why the cop stopped him to begin with).

    But in general, yes. This is sort of the apotheosis of black people getting shot for literally nothing. Cop defenders broke down the Castille shooting to claim he acted wrongly and provoked the officer or the pot justified the shooting. Cop defenders bent over backward to explain why the John Crawford or Tamir Rice shootings were justified. But here we have a man just sitting at home and a cop busts in and shoots him. Maybe the cop couldn’t tell he was black in the dark, but … black people still have be thinking, “Jesus, is there ANY thing we can do to avoid getting shot?”

    That’s why the search and announcement of pot is so galling. We’ve been down this road before. Next they’ll be saying he was no choir boy.

    ReplyReply



    15



    0
  17. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: But don’t you know that mentioning race is identity politics, and that identity politics is always bad?

    Surely, the only reason Democrats could want to point out that people are being treated unfairly in society is that we are pandering to those groups — it can’t possibly be that we’ve begun to believe our own rhetoric about equality, and that we are actually offended by the inequality.

    By and large, black people vote for Democrats. Pearce seems to think that this is a bad thing because of identity politics — that the Democrats are pandering to black folk, and giving up white folk in the bargain, if I understand him correctly.

    I think it’s a bad thing that the Republicans have so little to offer black folks (plus, they pander to white nationalists).

    ReplyReply



    9



    0
  18. Modulo Myself says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Nah. Wilson started the confrontation, drew his gun, and then lost control and started shooting.

    In the document Wilson, admits that he’d been accused of excessive force and of racial discrimination while working as a police officer in Ferguson, and that he had used the “n-word” while referring to African Americans.

    In the Department of Justice investigation of Brown’s death, investigators concluded witness accounts that Wilson reached out of his vehicle and grabbed Brown by the neck were inconsistent with physical and forensic evidence. However, Wilson admits in the document to reaching out and grabbing Brown by the forearm.

    In the document below, Wilson admits Brown never tried to remove his gun from the holster. In grand jury testimony, Wilson said Brown grabbed his gun and that he feared for his life.

    McCormick said attorneys ask very specific questions in a “request for admissions” and that the document doesn’t tell the full story of what happened that day. But if Wilson’s admissions contradict his previous testimony, it could undermine the credibility of his entire version of events.

    “Well I think that it does, if he lied about this particular thing which he used to justify his conduct at the time, what else did he lie about,” said McCormick.

    The grand jury chose not to indict Wilson and a DOJ investigation cleared him of any civil rights violations.

    It was always clear to me that Wilson was a piece of shit who thought Michael Brown was acting uppity.

    ReplyReply



    13



    0
  19. Gustopher says:

    As Mr. Jean’s relatives, for example, have noted that the idea that Guyger had somehow mistaken Jean’s fourth-floor apartment for her fifth floor home do not comport with reality. 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.

    Obviously, she thought the thief had stolen her doormat. What type of a thief would steal a doormat, you might ask? A crazed, irrational, dangerous thief.

    I live in a row of row houses, and have twice in the past decade walked up to a neighbors door instead of my own, despite the trees being different, the front yards being different and the door literally being a different color. And I’ve had my neighbor’s best friend (who is there all the time) try to unlock my door to water the plants when my neighbor was on vacation.

    The reports of yelling “let me in” really makes me doubt the shooter’s story, but I can totally see walking up to the wrong door and not noticing a doormat.

    ReplyReply



    5



    0
  20. James Pearce says:

    Maybe it’s not the most relevant, but it’s a pretty large part of it.

    How so? The killer was white and the victim was black. What other aspects of this story make you think race is a factor?

    I don’t think you ever think race is one of the more relevant aspect of a story.

    It depends on how much its being used to prop up unrelated narratives.

    Why do you think race is a factor? Is it because there’s a narrative that says “cops straight up murder black people” and she’s a cop and he’s black? Or do you have an actual reason to believe that race is why this crime happened?

    There is something that clearly makes him deeply uncomfortable about the idea of race and systemic racism.

    As one should be. I live in a very brown neighborhood. The narrative coming from the suburbs and from folks on TV doesn’t really match what I see out my front window.

    (This incident happened around the corner from my house. How shall I plug that into the narrative?)

    ReplyReply



    2



    7
  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Timothy Watson: It’s a crime scene. That’s all the justification they need.

    ReplyReply



    0



    0
  22. george says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    But for sure cops have special problem with Black people, specially if you are a large Black Male.

    If you are Black the general deficiencies of policing are going to hit you worse.

    Absolutely. And in fact, native Americans have it as bad (the proud holders of most likely to be killed by a cop in America) as blacks. There are some very bad cops out there, and many will target anyone – Google the cop who shot and killed a white guy crawling down a hallway begging for his life … the cop was charged but not convicted. But if you’re black or native American, you’re three times more likely to be killed – and that’s been consistent far too long to be random chance.

    Its quite possible that Guyger would have shot a white male – anyone who thinks cops don’t kill white males for no reason hasn’t been paying attention. But the chances of her killing a black or native American male were three times higher.

    ReplyReply



    4



    0
  23. george says:

    @James Pearce:

    Why do you think race is a factor? Is it because there’s a narrative that says “cops straight up murder black people” and she’s a cop and he’s black? Or do you have an actual reason to believe that race is why this crime happened?

    How about because statistically the chances of a cop killing a black man for no reason is 300% the chances of a cop killing a white man for no reason?

    Knowing nothing else about her, there’s a 75% chance she shot him because he was black.

    ReplyReply



    4



    0
  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This is particularly true in this case where the shooting occurred while Guyger was off-duty.

    I am not taking this cops side and in fact feel that this a pretty egregious excess use of force in very peculiar circumstances. BUT…. I think people are making too much of her being off-duty at the time of the shooting.

    I don’t know about departmental policies in Dallas or NYC or Chicago or Atlanta etc, but in STL it is common practice for off-duty cops to carry their badges and a personal weapon everywhere they go (I do believe it is departmental policy but can not say with certainty) and the cops I knew when I lived there did. The mindset was, “Yes, I’m off-duty, but I’m still a cop.” and over the years I read many stories of off-duty cops stopping crimes because they just happened to be there when the crime occured. I also remember a story of an off-duty cop getting shot and killed when he tried to stop an armed robbery, and of another off-duty cop (who just happened to be black) getting shot when he tried to make an arrest and an ON-duty cop (I don’t recall his race) shot him because he thought the guy was a perp.

    Just making the point that even off-duty, a cop is still a cop.

    ReplyReply



    2



    1
  25. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @James Pearce:

    Why do you think race is a factor? Is it because there’s a narrative that says “cops straight up murder black people” and she’s a cop and he’s black? Or do you have an actual reason to believe that race is why this crime happened?

    Black Males are more likely to be killed by cops than Whites. That’s why race is a factor here. It does not mean that someone like Michael Reynolds could not have been killed by this idiotic woman. But it was far more likely that she would kill a Black Man.

    Race is a factor in issues of policing and criminality for obvious reasons.

    In fact, one of my beefs with people on the people of left on social media is precisely that they talk so much about rape, manspreading, catcalling or something like that, to the point that is going to create a backlash that will affect Black, Hispanic and Asian Males.

    ReplyReply



    4



    0
  26. James Pearce says:

    @george:

    Knowing nothing else about her, there’s a 75% chance she shot him because he was black.

    That’s what I don’t like about leaning too much on the narrative of “cops just murder black people.” It’s almost like saying that the specifics don’t even matter.

    Imagine Hercule Poirot investigating this case. He finds out the victim was black. “Ah, mon-ami, say no more. This man was killed because of his race.”

    No way. The specifics matter.

    (Also, Amber Guyger was off duty, but she was still in uniform when she killed Botham Jean.)

    ReplyReply



    2



    5
  27. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:

    Why do you think race is a factor? Is it because there’s a narrative that says “cops straight up murder black people” and she’s a cop and he’s black? Or do you have an actual reason to believe that race is why this crime happened?

    Ok, I know this isn’t going to be acknowledged, but you get to part of the racial context in your earlier comment:

    The problem here, at least to me, is the impenetrable Blue Shield and this idea that it’s okay to shoot someone dead *when you “believe” you’re in danger.*

    There is ample social science research to demonstrate that there is a systemic racial bias that seens people of color as *more dangerous.* Yes, you are free to find anecdotal evidence of people of all skin tones being killed by police in sketchy circumstances. Let me proactively hand you that cookie. Great job!

    That doesn’t defuse this broader issue that there is a clear and well demonstrated social bias here to see black children and adults as more dangerous.

    Then we get to the decision by the police to release the information that he had some amount of marijuana in his apartment. Which sets him up as being both black and, based on their description of the findings, a potential drug dealer. And that makes him extra killable (see Phillip Castillo, though I’m guessing you don’t think race played an important factor in that situation either).

    Would this have been outrageous if it happened to a white person? Yes, and I can come up with some examples of that as well. But the fact remains that race is a factor here — including in the concern that justice isn’t going to be fairly distributed (heck the choice to only pursue Manslaughter can even be seen as a devaluing of the life taken).

    BTW, extra points for posting the story of someone deploying lethal force against a black home invader as some sort of evidence of something. I guess that’s proof that the police officer was right to shoot the black guy in his own apartment for… reasons?

    ReplyReply



    10



    2
  28. James Pearce says:

    @mattbernius:

    There is ample social science research to demonstrate that there is a systemic racial bias that seens people of color as *more dangerous.*

    I think it’s likely that Guyger couldn’t even seen Jean when she shot him. From the arrest affadavit:

    “Guyger observed that the apartment interior was nearly completely dark. Additionally, the door being opened alerted Complainant Jean to Guyger’s presence. Believing she had encountered a burglar, which was described as a large silhouette, across the room in her apartment, Guyger drew her firearm, gave verbal commands that were ignored by Complainant Jean.”

    She’s 5’3″.

    Tom Cruise would look like a “large silhouette” to her.

    ReplyReply



    1



    1
  29. MarkedMan says:

    @teve tory: You’re exactly right. We have plenty of crazy Trump supporters here and I ignore them all. Pearce, on the other hand, is a Trump supporter who is actually being a little bit clever. He comes on and posts the same conclusions as the crazy Trump supporters, 100% of the time, but rather than frothing at the mouth and spitting bile, he tells us these truths with a sad and regretful air. He has basically admitted why: he hopes to influence the people who only occasionally read these comments. It’s why I respond to him. Not to address his comments because, after all, they make no more sense then those of our resident loonies. But rather to attempt to tip off his intended audience that he’s a phony.

    ReplyReply



    5



    2
  30. James Pearce says:

    @mattbernius:

    extra points for posting the story of someone deploying lethal force against a black home invader as some sort of evidence of something.

    I posted that because it’s also a case where the police mistakenly shot a (white) guy in his home.

    Richard Black’s story is the only one of the two that has a “black home invader” in it.

    ReplyReply



    1



    2
  31. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    But rather to attempt to tip off his intended audience that he’s a phony.

    You’re my intended audience.

    And I’m not a Trumper.

    ReplyReply



    2



    1
  32. matt bernius says:

    @James Pearce:
    That was an affidavit formed three days after the shooting (see Doug’s post) and I will bet drafted with the help of a lawyer (to your point something that no one other than a cop or a well connected person would get the chance to do).

    Seriously, I think the only way you are prepared to acknowledge that race *might* be at play here is if she would have stated “and then the scary black guy….” Even then, I am honestly not sure.

    Aside: as mentioned, I now work within the field of criminal justice statistics. I admit this colors me view. However, I think it is difficult, if not impossible in modern America, to have any conversation on our Criminal Justice system (and most micro interactions in it) without touching on race, ethnicity (which goes well beyond “black”) and structural racism. The numbers and research just don’t allow it.

    ReplyReply



    5



    0
  33. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Pearce:

    The witnesses all say she couldn’t get into the apartment, meaning that the door was opened for her and the lights were on. So you’re literally quoting the accused’s account as if it were automatically true. The first rule of detective fiction is that the story of the accused is always true, right? I think that’s somewhere in Agatha Christie.

    ReplyReply



    7



    0
  34. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:
    First, I want to apologize… I had a complete brain fart and forgot the grim “punchline” of the Richard Black’s incident.

    I do think it says a lot about the common refrain about “good guys with guns” making the right decision in the heat of the moment. See:

    Only one officer fired, Metz said, squeezing off four shots after Black shined a flashlight in his face — and that thus-far-unnamed officer just happens to have been involved in a fatal shooting 34 days earlier, on June 27, along the 8900 block of East Colfax Avenue, near the Biltmore Motel. Metz revealed that the officer had been returned to active duty two weeks earlier, eighteen days after that shooting, once he’d passed a psychological evaluation and participated in a preliminary investigation.

    I think the facts of the case — including that the officer was entering into an active shooter situation — make it deeply and fundamentally different than the case of an off-duty officer enacting a home invasion and shooting someone.

    So frankly, you are asking me to compare apples and chainsaws.

    All that said, I apologize for my initial comment and it’s implications.

    I now see the point you were making. To be clear, I think you are wrong. But I think I understand what you thought you were trying to do. Unfortunately, I also think it still fits into your deep desire to break your own back contorting yourself to be “color blind” in all situations.

    Still, my insinuation was unfair.

    ReplyReply



    4



    0
  35. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    I think it’s likely that Guyger couldn’t even seen Jean when she shot him. From the arrest affadavit:

    “Guyger observed that the apartment interior was nearly completely dark. Additionally, the door being opened alerted Complainant Jean to Guyger’s presence. Believing she had encountered a burglar, which was described as a large silhouette, across the room in her apartment, Guyger drew her firearm, gave verbal commands that were ignored by Complainant Jean.”

    OK, right here is where your BS meter should have gone off. It’s “nearly dark” but she just so happens to see a “large silhouette” – something that would have required a nearby light source because you can’t see black on black. She didn’t say “detected movement in the dark” or “shadow moving”. “Silhouette” is an interesting word choice because it means she was aware of how stupid firing into the dark at a vague, undefined target is and how it would mark her as a poor gun owner with terrible trigger discipline. It’s clear she was coached since that’s not a commonly used term in these situations. You can smell the smoke from the lawyers spinning….

    Alas, “silhouette” has the problem – you’re still firing into the dark at an unknown but sounds fancier then “shooting at shadows”. Either way she’s still wrong and never should have taken the shot. She’s going to have to explain why a trained police officer was wildly firing without IDing the target – a no-no for any gun owner especially a cop. You don’t shoot at what you can’t see!!!

    She’s 5’3″. Tom Cruise would look like a “large silhouette” to her.

    Oh the poor dear. How DOES she manage to be a police officer when everyone’s soooo much bigger then her?! She must constantly be afraid for her life, what with the shooting from the hip and being tiny and all. Bless her heart, it’s almost like she hasn’t been that height for most of her adult life and dealt with perps at night on the job that she was so a-feared at that moment!!

    FYI I’m a tiny female and I take on men twice my size x2 a week on the salle. You get used to being loomed over in rough situations. It’s not like it’s going to up and surprise you that you’re a hell of a lot smaller then the people trying to attack you. It’s a damn fact of life, not a gotcha.

    This. Woman. Is. Obviously. And. Badly. Lying.

    If she wasn’t a cop, we’d all be calling her what the NRA screams about all day long: an murderous armed home intruder. If it were truly a mistake, she’d own up to it and throw herself on the mercy of the court. As a police officer, she knows what happens to killers and what justice demands. She is blatantly lying and spinning and trying to save her ass instead of doing the right thing – what does that tell you about her as a person and her honesty in this situation?

    ReplyReply



    11



    1
  36. James Pearce says:

    @matt bernius:

    That was an affidavit formed three days after the shooting

    True…but still an affidavit. Are you aware of any evidence that contradicts it?

    the only way you are prepared to acknowledge that race *might* be at play here is if she would have stated “and then the scary black guy….”

    I’m prepared to acknowledge race as a factor if race is a factor. In this case, I’m not yet convinced.

    As for the insinuation, it’s alright. No harm done. My apostasy on these matters invites those insinuations, but it’s just a misunderstanding.

    I don’t think I’m asking you to compare apples and chainsaws. I’m just drawing attention to the “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to police work that I think is the real culprit here. When cops are scared, people die. That’s the dynamic at play here. Not racist cop kills another black person.

    If anything, race is a factor in how this is being covered in the media. But that’s not the same thing as race being a factor in the crime itself.

    ReplyReply



    2



    4
  37. James Pearce says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    So you’re literally quoting the accused’s account as if it were automatically true.

    I’m quoting the only sworn account of what happened in that apartment. Are you aware of any evidence that contradicts it?

    @KM: To be clear, I’m not defending Guyger’s policework. Note how I’ve described it: as a crime.

    I just don’t think she killed him because he was black. I think she killed him because she was a cop.

    ReplyReply



    4



    3
  38. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    I just don’t think she killed him because he was black. I think she killed him because she was a cop.

    Oh she definitely killed him because she was a cop but whether his race had something to do with it is still unclear. Personally, I think there was a history there and she thought her being a cop would let her get away with it. After all, what kind of cop doesn’t call for backup before entering the dangerous situation, especially Little Miss Tiny & A-feared in the dark room? The witnesses make it sound like she knew it was the wrong apt and thus was looking for him, demanding he let her in. She was betting her story hit all the right notes to give her a pass and that being a cop vs a threatening black man in the dark would sway the public towards her.

    They’re definitely playing to the racist playbook now – the whole weed thing is a classic excuse for violence perpetrated on a black suspect for no real reason. It’s pretty damn clear this woman screwed the pooch but they’re trotting out all the time-honored rationale of why it’s OK a tiny white woman can shoot a big scary black guy with bonus points for her possessing a badge. The NRA should be all over her as an example of the danger to be protected FROM, not someone to support.

    Maybe she wasn’t being racist when she pulled the trigger but it’s not stopping her and her lawyers from invoking all the tropes she can. Frankly, the only one she hasn’t reached for yet is “afraid for her life” but that’s coming when she sobs on the stand about how he scared her in the dark. I just can’t give her the benefit of the doubt now that all the little racist tweaks to the story are appearing like clockwork.

    ReplyReply



    7



    0
  39. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Pearce:

    Bear with me here Inspector Pearce but if neighbors report that she was banging on the door and demanding to be let in that means she was let in by the man she shot and murdered. Meaning that her account is a lie. Now wait you say—why would a person in her situation lie? To this all I can say is the following: the game is afoot, Inspector Pearce.

    ReplyReply



    2



    0
  40. @James Pearce:

    Imagine Hercule Poirot investigating this case. He finds out the victim was black. “Ah, mon-ami, say no more. This man was killed because of his race.”

    This is just silly. No one is saying that he was killed solely because of his race. But to pretend like the odds of him being alive aren’t higher if he had been white is to simply be putting your head in the sand.

    This is why you come across as dismissive to the racial component of these stories. There is a broader context. Google “implicit bias” for crying out loud.

    ReplyReply



    8



    0
  41. @James Pearce:

    When cops are scared, people die. That’s the dynamic at play here.

    And if you look at study after study you will find that white people tend to be more afraid of black people, especially black males, than they are of white people.

    That is the fundamental point.

    ReplyReply



    7



    0
  42. BTW, I am not even saying he was killed because he was black. I am just saying that to dismiss the racial element here is not warranted given the broader social patterns. To constantly dismiss race as important in these stories allows racism to continue unabated.

    ReplyReply



    10



    1
  43. KM says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am just saying that to dismiss the racial element here is not warranted given the broader social patterns. To constantly dismiss race as important in these stories allows racism to continue unabated.

    Precisely. This woman’s ONLY “justification” relies very heavily on her being an officer and the standard assumptions officers make. As we’ve seen time and time again, they’re more then happy to shoot first and ask questions later when someone non-white doesn’t respect their authoritah – excuse me, didn’t obey verbal commands. It’s frankly shocking how many times a violent white suspect gets apprehended alive and lacking bullet holes but non-white suspects end up dead for incongruous things. There’s a real implicit bias at work and false perceptions of race-based danger make for deadly results. The affidavit is full of little linguistic nuggets that paint a subtle picture of tiny white woman vs big scary black guy like that tiny white woman didn’t take on said guys for her day job. Even if race wasn’t a factor in the shooting, it’s being invoked in it’s defense.

    This man was killed in his own home for no damn reason. This should be an open and shut case. She clearly did it, she clearly was wrong, and this should have been a swift booking and trial. No SYG, no Castle Doctrine, no “afraid for my life” should be applicable here. Her being an officer should have zero to do with the fact that she killed an innocent and checked later once she whoopsied. Instead, we’re talking about the victim’s weed ( which fyi I wouldn’t put past them as a plant) and whether or not he was threatening to her. Racism is at play here in how he’s being portrayed, smeared and generally not being held up as the victim he is. Not calling it what it is will only allow it to keep happening as a go-to excuse.

    ReplyReply



    10



    0
  44. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Pearce:

    Bear with me here, Inspector Pearce, but if neighbors are saying that she was banging on the door and asking to be let in, it means that he let her in. Which makes her entire story about a dark apartment with someone across the room a total lie.

    ReplyReply



    4



    1
  45. Jim Brown 32 says:

    This case is going to turn out to be a lovers quarrel. Watch.

    ReplyReply



    5



    0
  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Well, yeah. I’m surprised no one thought of this earlier. On the other hand, that will make manslaughter easier for the prosecution to sell, but maybe that’s the goal considering Texas is a death penalty state.

    ReplyReply



    0



    0
  47. Matt says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Yeah that was my thought too once I read about what the neighbors heard.

    Prior to that I figured it might be because he was reporting her for noise or something.

    ReplyReply



    1



    0
  48. de stijl says:

    Even if her “justifications” are true, she had no cause to shoot Botham Shem Jean. In a “stand your ground” legal stance he was justified in shooting her. She was the the belligerent.

    ReplyReply



    2



    0
  49. de stijl says:

    Until shooting / killing of unarmed black people is addressed in the same manner that the shooting / killing of unarmed white people is, we’re going to have an issue that demands resolution. That it is police that are the likely shooters / killers makes it way harder.

    Police are supposed to be society’s watchmen, not the dominant culture’s enforcers. (I know that’s naive, but I want to believe in the best of us not the worst.)

    ReplyReply



    4



    0
  50. de stijl says:

    I’m going to object to my own comment:

    Police are supposed to be society’s watchmen, not the dominant culture’s enforcers. (I know that’s naive, but I want to believe in the best of us not the worst.)

    That was just foolish. Beyond naive.

    ReplyReply



    4



    0
  51. CSK says:

    Was the apartment actually pitch dark? Seriously, why would Mr. Jean be wandering around his own place in the dark? And if he was asleep, and got up to use the bathroom and didn’t bother turning on any lights, why was his door ajar? Who goes to bed and leaves his or her apartment door not just unlocked but partly open?

    Guyger’s story stinks.

    ReplyReply



    6



    0
  52. Sam says:

    @mattbernius: ladies and gentleman let’s forget about the race for a minute, what this woman did to this man and his family was simply wrong it doesn’t matter if he was Hispanic, Asian, white or black this is murder not manslaughter what makes me angry is the law enforcement authority always trying to justify themselves protect and serve my @ss we need someone to protect us from them and this so called police officer to be treated without any privileges.

    ReplyReply



    0



    0
  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    Are you aware of any evidence that contradicts it?

    I’m not sure, you’ve said a lot of stupid things over the years, but this just might be the most moronic thing ever.

    ReplyReply



    3



    1
  54. de stijl says:

    *Assuming* (I don’t) Guyger inadvertently walked into an apartment that she thought was hers, was she acting as a police officer or a private citizen? She was off-duty. The law about folks shooting other folks down like dogs, oddly enough, differ for random citizens versus regulators and, oddly enough, grants way more leeway to regulators. For this baseless killing, will Guyger be classified as killer cop or killer citizen?

    ReplyReply



    3



    0
  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sam:

    it doesn’t matter if he was Hispanic, Asian, white or black

    For as long as I’ve been alive, people have been saying this. And for as long as I’ve been alive, it has never been quite as true as we’d like to believe it is. The fact that people’s lives are discounted because of race or social/economic status is as American as apple pie. The fact that it happens in other cultures/nations too may indicate that it is endemic with being human. We never run short of people to devalue.

    @ de stijl: How she classifies in the minds of those in authority will indeed be the key.

    ReplyReply



    4



    0
  56. de stijl says:

    It’s an urban apartment building.

    No one leaves their door ajar, let alone open, let alone unlocked.

    It’s not a dorm.

    Downtown highrise? – no freaking way. Even if you have a “secure” building with a doorman. You lock your door to get the mail. You lock your door to check if the dryer is done. If you’re not in a direct sight-line, you lock your door.

    One time I inadvertently hit either 17 or 23. I walked about three steps out of the elevator and immediately realized this is not my floor. It looked different, it smelled different, it felt different – it was obviously the wrong floor. I sussed it so quickly that I easily caught the elevator door before it closed. Like Guyger, I was on my way home from work after a long day and it was after dark.

    But then again I’m not a regulator institutionally trained to shoot people who eyeball and / or sass me. And we all know what “people” really meant in that last sentence.

    ReplyReply



    7



    0
  57. de stijl says:

    @Matt:

    Yeah that was my thought too once I read about what the neighbors heard.

    We can’t properly evaluate the neighbors’ testimony until we determine their race, and whether or not that have had previous encounters with the Regulator Corps and perhaps been found insufficiently servile previously. Jaywalking, insufficient funds, failure to come to complete and full stop on a right-hand turn and proceeding when traffic is obviously clear, etc…

    ReplyReply



    4



    0
  58. de stijl says:

    test

    ReplyReply



    1



    0
  59. de stijl says:

    Why are the people who are most likely to suffer from property or violent crime much more likely to vote for liberal policies than those who are the least likely to be a crime victim?

    What is that dynamic? On the surface, it is counter-intuitive.

    ReplyReply



    0



    0
  60. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl:

    Downtown highrise? – no freaking way. Even if you have a “secure” building with a doorman. You lock your door to get the mail. You lock your door to check if the dryer is done. If you’re not in a direct sight-line, you lock your door.

    Ummmm… no. Lived in some really rough neighborhoods back in the day, places where mayhem and murder were common occurrences, and yet never felt the need to lock all my doors just to get my mail, get something out of my truck, pull some weeds, take out the trash, get the paper from the news box, etc etc etc.

    ReplyReply



    1



    0
  61. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: You answer your own question there. 😉

    ReplyReply



    0



    0
  62. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    You answer your own question there.

    You’re gonna have to show your work here. I have no idea what your thinking or implying.

    I’ll share – My opinion is that urban people understand that their neighbors are essentially like them in the most meaningful ways despite the shallow differences of appearance and food preferences.

    If you have more neighbors, your empathy function kicks in more often and has a bigger impact, whereas if you have fewer neighbors you are more finely attuned as to how they are different than you and how that will disrupt the current community.

    Density is a pretty hard proxy for liberalism – Brooklyn is more liberal than Jacksonville. Minneapolis is more liberal than Fargo. Los Angeles is more liberal than Stockton. There is also a demonstrable variable around the number of colleges / universities in the area. Iowa City is more liberal than Sioux City. Also, union membership.

    But as rule, density generally predicts voting behavior. It is probably the most predictive factor even above geographic situation.

    ReplyReply



    0



    0
  63. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Ummmm… no. Lived in some really rough neighborhoods back in the day, places where mayhem and murder were common occurrences

    It would take me ~3-10 minutes depending on what time of day it is to leave my apartment, check my mail, and then return during which I had zero sightline on my door once in the elevator.

    At 1:30 AM I would be buttoned up tighter than a submarine. I would ask who was knocking, what they wanted, and look at them through the eyehole, and only admit them if I knew them or they were authorities / building employees with correct ID in a situation where I would consider admitting them. The number of 1:30 AM people I’d admit is vanishingly small.

    ReplyReply



    0



    0
  64. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    One time I was sitting at my desk on a Saturday afternoon, and the on-duty receptionist opened my door with a master key with Regulator Man in tow with not knocking. She used her master key to open the door, pointed at me and said “I know him that’s “de stijl””, Regulator looked at me .1 second and said “sorry, sir” and walked out, Marsha backed out and my door closed – my own fucking deadbolt, which I had locked.

    The next day I raised holy fucking hell. Not on Marsha – she got cowed and intimidated by Regulator Man (who turns out had no warrant) and who just bulled through her, and I installed a drop open bar. No one ever even told me what deal they were investigating.

    I heard squiggle / squiggle, door opened and two folks stepped in and Marsha was pointing at me. I didn’t have the heads-up to even stand up before *my* door opened.

    ReplyReply



    1



    0
  65. de stijl says:

    test again

    ReplyReply



    0



    0

Speak Your Mind

*