Weir Only Human
FLOWER MOUND, TX — October 4, 2019 — When Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger walked into an apartment she thought was hers, she had no idea that the next few seconds would result in the death of an innocent man and the beginning of a life of torment for her. When the 30 year-old, slightly built woman saw a strange man coming toward her in the semi-dark room, her first thought was that a burglar was advancing on her. Twenty-seven year-old Botham Jean was the legitimate occupant of that apartment and was merely walking toward the door after hearing someone entering. That’s what any of us would do if we believed a stranger had gained access to our otherwise secure residence. It’s possible that he may have thought he was encountering a burglar as he responded to the sound that disrupted his quiet evening at home.
What happened next could only be described as a horrible tragedy that shakes the foundation of human sensibility. It sends shivers down the spines of all those who have ever wondered what would have happened if they hadn’t had just a few more seconds to reason things out during a stressful circumstance. If the officer had waited a couple of seconds before firing, would it have been enough time to realize she was in the wrong apartment? Would the outcome have been different if Mr. Jean had yelled out something that would’ve made it clear to Ms. Guyger that “she” was the interloper? Those are some of the imponderables of life, which can often turn on a dime.
The fact is that Mr. Jean had no culpability for his own death. Undoubtedly, he felt safe in his secure space as he enjoyed a bowl of ice cream in the comfortable surroundings of home. Ms. Guyger, on the other hand, because of her grossly improper behavior, is guilty of taking the life of an innocent man. Nevertheless, any reasonable person would conclude that the officer had no valid reason to intentionally shoot to death a man she never met. Therefore, it seems obvious that she acted out of fear when she pulled out her weapon and fired at what she perceived as a threat. The fact that Mr. Jean was not a threat didn’t resonate with her until the bullet left her gun.
Once she realized the gravity of what she had done she called 911 for an ambulance and was recorded over and over screaming frantically, “I thought it was my apartment!” Again, a reasonable person would agree that she was telling the truth. Yet, a young man lost his life because of her disastrous error in judgment. At her trial, the prosecution pointed out several things she did wrong. That’s their job. The job of the defense is to prepare the defendant before allowing her to take the stand.
When the prosecutor asked her if she intended to kill Mr. Jean when she fired at him, she responded “yes.”
Evidently, that weighed heavily in the jury’s mind when they ultimately found her guilty of murder. But, does anyone think that she meant to say that she wanted to kill him? I feel certain that if her answer was that she merely wanted to stop what she thought was a threat to her life; the jury might have taken that into consideration. This was a dreadful accident that had implications of negligence on the officer’s part. But, murder? Where’s the conscious intention to take an innocent life?
According to Texas’ Penal Code, you commit murder when you intentionally and knowingly take someone else’s life, or when you intend to commit an act that is clearly extremely dangerous to human life and in effect, causes death to another person.
The statute that fits what Ms. Guyger did is called “Criminally Negligent Homicide.” It explains that if you are criminally negligent and you take someone else’s life, it’s a lesser degree of homicide. The defendant will still do prison time, but not from 5 to life, as in a conviction of murder. In Ms. Guyger’s case she was sentenced to 10 years. If convicted of negligent homicide she’d be facing less than 5 years. To those who are out for her blood, that might not seem like much. But, in many ways it would still be a life sentence because she’s lost her job, she’d spend a few years in prison and she’d never hold a job in law-enforcement again. In addition, her nightmares would haunt her forever.
Now, let’s get to the real reason Amber Guyger was convicted of murder. She’s a white police officer who killed a black man! To a segment of our population that’s all they need to hear to demand a murder conviction. Since the verdict, we’ve heard blacks saying it’s payback for the blacks that have been killed by white cops during past confrontations in the streets of our cities. Moreover, I suspect that Dallas officials were anticipating disorder in the streets if the verdict was anything less than murder. Furthermore, we have to wonder if the jury was afraid that they’d be in physical jeopardy if they dared to convict on a lesser charge. Is this what we refer to as our “Justice System?”
A more accurate description would be “Mobocracy,” i.e. rule or domination by the mob. In other words, either juries bring in verdicts that are approved by those with political or racial agendas, or the mob will take to the streets, engaging in violence and property damage. We’ve all witnessed it before, but, only when a black is killed by a white. How many whites riot when a white is killed by a black? How many jurors are in fear of their lives if they don’t convict a black for killing a white? In the infamous O.J. Simpson trial, blacks across the country applauded the not-guilty verdict, even though anyone with an IQ higher than a potted plant knew that he savagely murdered those 2 innocent whites.
Where were the mobs of whites running through the streets assaulting blacks and looting stores? The point is that the mood of the mob should have no bearing on a court case, which should be judged solely on the evidence presented at trial. Yes, Ms. Guyger deserved to be punished, but not for murder, and not to satisfy the blood lust of a community that views skin color as a bludgeon to settle what they perceive as old scores.
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Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.”