There was only one way to describe the Amber Guyger murder case: bizarre, bordering on the surreal.
A now-former Dallas police officer accidentally goes to the wrong apartment then shoots and kills the resident. The pair had never met or encountered each other before and all evidence suggested Guyger thought Botham Jean’s apartment was her own and mistook him for an intruder. The arrest and search warrants are then leaked to the media in an obvious attempt by someone to paint Jean as no saint due to the mention of marijuana. Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall declined to fire Guyger for the shooting itself but on the vague notion of “adverse conduct” when she was arrested. A grand jury decides to indict Guyger for murder, not the manslaughter charge Texas Rangers recommended. The shooting is originally classified as on-duty, then later changed to off-duty and the Dallas Police Association decides to still pay her legal bills. Her 911 call was leaked by someone five months before her trial.
Dallas County prosecutors focus on the fact Guyger didn’t follow her training and call for backup or seek cover before going into Jean’s apartment, during court proceedings. Defense attorneys’ attempt to put the killing as a mistake of fact. A Texas Ranger called by Dallas County prosecutors claimed he didn’t think Guyger did anything wrong but the judge will not allow him to tell a jury his opinion. Guyger’s testimony was a disaster and the defense decided to not call her back on the stand. The case boils down to possible self-defense versus Guyger going into Jean’s apartment looking to engage someone. The jury convicts Guyger of murder, not manslaughter, a conviction Jazz wrote earlier today still bothers him. There are Dallas-area legal analysts who have the same opinion.
Sentencing turned into another weird event. Social media posts and texts by Guyger are used to portray her as someone who may have had issues with African Americans. The defense brings others up who argue she’s not. Guyger gets a decade in prison, 18 years below what prosecutors told jurors in closing arguments should be the minimum. Jurors later say the ten years is because that’s “what Botham would have wanted,” but the anger in the community is apparent. Women loudly cry outside the courtroom calling the sentence a miscarriage of justice. The phrase, “no justice, no peace,” rings through the Frank Crowley Courthouse as Jean’s family sits in the courtroom.
Then, forgiveness. Brandt Jean, all of 18 years old, got up on the stand and declared Guyger should turn her life to God. He forgave and said he didn’t want her to get prison time because he wanted to imitate his brother. Jean then gets permission to hug Guyger. Their embrace is an image that will never leave my mind. It’s pure, unadulterated compassion by someone towards the one who killed his brother. No one would fault Brandt Jean for animosity towards Guyger. Yet he rejected this for love. The judge came off her perch and exchanged hugs with the Jean family and Guyger. Jean’s family attorney noted everyone became human and two fractured communities started to heal.
It should have ended there but the aftermath is no less surreal. The judge got hit with a complaint about giving a Bible to Guyger. The police chief announced an internal investigation into some of the actions of police officers when they responded to Jean’s apartment last fall. Jean’s family called for a federal probe into the Dallas Police Department. No one from the Justice Department has commented on the request.
Now, one of the key prosecution witnesses is dead in a shooting that has conspiracy theorists on social media wondering. There are conflicting reports on the circumstances of Joshua Brown’s killing. Jean’s family attorney says he heard Brown was shot in the mouth but Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted this wasn’t the case. No suspect description has been released and a silver sedan is sought in connection with the shooting. A motive isn’t known either but Brown was shot last year. A suspect in the 2018 shooting is in custody and it appeared to spawn from a fight at a club. Who knows if a suspect will be captured in Friday’s shooting.
Hollywood couldn’t write a better script and anyone else would think this was a twisted story from some sort of drug-addled author. Yet, it’s all real and it somehow makes sense for those who have paid rapt attention since last fall after Guyger stepped into Botham Jean’s apartment.