Tuesday was a surprise for me. When I saw the news that former police officer Amber Guyger was found guilty of murdering Botham Jean, I was honstly shocked. I posted about it on my Facebook page saying how odd it was to actually be wrong about something for once.
To briefly recap, Guyger was coming home after work when she went to Botham Jean’s apartment, opened the door and shot him dead. She claimed that she entered his apartment by mistake, thinking that it was hers (she lived in an apartment on the floor beneath his), and therefor thought that he was an intruder in her apartment. So this was basically one big OOPSIE, according to her.
But the truth is, I expected her to get away with it. Even when she was fired and then arrested, I assumed that this was all just going through the motions to make it look like this was being taken seriously, but that she wouldn’t really be punished. We’ve been through this sort of thing many times before. In particular I was thinking of the fairly recent case. of Betty Shelby, another White female police office, in Oklahoma, who shot and killed Terrance Crutcher, a 40-year old Black man, who was unarmed at the time. She was also arrested and charged (with manslaughter) and was found Not Guilty by a jury. Not only that, but afterward she got hired as a Sherrif’s deputy. And, she was even appointed to teach a special class to other Sherrifs about how to “survive” a “critical incident” (such as when you unjustly kill an unarmed citizen).
So, yeah, that was all fucked up.
I expected a similar result here, especially as events unfolded. The police announced that they found a miniscult amount of marijuana in Botham Jean’s apartment, and the way they characterized Guyger’s actions by saying that she “gave verbal commands that were ignored”, were all the usual attempts to blame the victim, as they always try to do in police shootings of this nature.
So I wasn’t even paying attention to most of the trial as it was going on, but I did read about how the judge allowed the jury to consider the “castle doctrine”, which allows self-defense in your own home. And I thought, well there you go, they’re giving the jury what they need to get her off. She thought it was her home, and so she defended herself against a perceived intruder. Not Guilty, right?
So I was happily proven wrong. But then a friend commented on my FB post that she wasn’t going to celebrate until the sentencing was revealed, and I had to pause again. That was a good point. The initial report I read on the possible sentencing said she was facing a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 99 years, with no possibility for parole. The prosecution was asking for 28 years, the age that Botham Jean would be today if Guyger hadn’t murdered him.
Then, after a sentecning hearing that revealed some racist text messages sent by Guyger in the past, she was sentenced to ten years. I’ve seen conflicting reports about whether she’ll be eligible for parole in 5 year or not. But there has been predictable outrage over what many consider to be a light sentence.
But for me? I’ll take it.
Maybe I’ve been emotionally numbed by all of the other officer-involved killing of unarmed Black people, and how they usually get away with it, that the bar for personal satisfaction has been lowered for me. But I’ll admit, that since I was honestly expecting her to get off scot-free, that any time behind bars feels like a victory. But so be it. I can’t get angy about it. And, y’know, 10 years, even 5, won’t exactly be a picnic for her, as a former police officer. I’ve written before about my fear of going to jail, a 10 year sentence might as well be a death-sentence for me as I’m honestly not sure I could even survive 5 years. So I’m going with Justice Served, on this one.
Just my opinion.