Ten years is just not enough for Guyger to serve

On September 6, 2018, Amber Guyger, a police officer coming home from work mistook the apartment a floor above hers, Botham Jean’s apartment, as her own. This little mistake had deadly consequences for Jean as Guyger shot him twice in the back of the head unprovoked. On October 2, 2019, over a year later, Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter. Guyger received 10 years for killing a man in his own apartment while he was doing nothing wrong. Numerous actions of Guyger show how this shooting was not as accidental as her defense team paints it out to be. Amber Guyger deserves an increased sentence due to the fact that she could have easily avoided killing Botham Jean.

According to court documents, racist text messages were uncovered on Guyger’s phone, which show a bias Guyger has against black people. A bias of this sort constituted a murder in the second degree, which carries a charge of 15 years to life. In these text messages that were revealed, Guyger appears to be engaging in a slew of text messages with a fellow officer. Guyger and other officers complain about working for the MLK day Parade where one officer asked, “when does this end lol.” Guyger replied, “When MLK is dead…oh wait…” Though his may have been meant as a joke at the time, a man is dead and will never return, which is no laughing matter. These texts show Guyger’s inherent bias against black people that was likely a factor in Guyger pulling out a deadly weapon. This bias against black people could have influenced her perception of Jean to be a threat, resulting in her deciding to use deadly force. When Guyger pulled out a gun, she put the possibility of death on the table. This moves her charge from manslaughter, an accidental killing, to murder in the second degree, a non-premeditated killing, resulting from an assault on the victim in which death is a distinct possibility. Guyger’s previous bias likely influenced her to pull out a deadly weapon, instead of something less deadly. 

Another reason why Guyger deserves to serve more time is because she had no legal grounds to kill Botham Jean. Firstly, Jean was sitting on his couch watching T.V. with his back turned, meaning he posed no threat to her safety, and more importantly, her life. In Texas, there is a  law called “Stand your ground,” meaning a person is allowed to use deadly force to protect their property, safety, and life. In this situation, however, none of these things were being threatened. Since Jean was in his house, eating ice cream with his back turned, he posed no threat to her safety. Even though Guyger thought she was in her own home, Texas’ law is still not applicable here because she was in fact not in her home, meaning her property was not being threatened and actually she was threatening Jean’s property by entering his home unexpectedly. It is also important to note that Jean was completely unarmed, which does not support Guyer’s reasoning for pulling out a weapon because Jean was not a threat to her life in any way. Since Guyger was not protecting her property, safety, or life, she did not need to use self defense.

Finally, fatigue, which is Guyger’s explanation for her killing Jean, does not result in a shooting. The questions I have for Guyger are these: First, how do you mistake your home someone else’s? Even if you are extremely tired, you know when walking into place if you recognize it or not. Upon walking into Jean’s apartment, Guyger would have realized that she was not in her apartment and left. Second, even if you are extremely tired, you would not stumble into someone else’s apartment and decide to use force, especially when that person is not posing as a threat to your safety in any way. The use of deadly force in this situation after thirty seconds was an unwarranted, abnormal reaction that ultimately cost someone their life. Also, according to court documents, Guyger texted her partner minutes before the shooting discussing plans to meet after the shooting. These plans show that Guyger might have been tired, but she was not exhausted to the point where she could not keep her eyes open or meet up with someone.

Although I understand that this is Guyger’s first offense, which merits a lighter sentence than a repeat offender, she still deserves more time. She does not deserve a less harsh sentence because she shot and killed a man in his own home. Not to mention that the reveal of the racist text messages show implicit bias, which makes this killing not as accidental as Guyger and her defense argue. And also the most important piece to this entire trial: a man is dead. Botham Jean was shot and killed for watching TV in his own home, not bothering anyone. Amber Guyger, a woman who had no business being in his home ended his life because of her mistake. Benjamin Crump an attorney for the Jean family says that Jean was the “perfect victim — a young black man who was college-educated and doing nothing but relaxing inside his home after work.” Not that the perfection of Jean’s victimhood is important, but it further shows that Jean was doing everything right, and was still shot dead. Crump also adds that “it shouldn’t take all of that for unarmed black and brown people to get justice,” which I completely agree with, Jean should not have to check every box of being a perfect victim to be worthy of justice–justice that is longer than a decade, in which Guyger will likely not serve fully. Guyger deserves a harsher sentence because her irresponsible actions resulted in an innocent man’s death.