It’s law vs. justice with Botham Jean, and Black America must deal with it

Botham Shem Jean. Photo: Facebook/Botham Shem Jean and Amber Guyger/Dallas Sheriffs Office)

[Disclaimer: the views expressed are solely those of the writer.]

Famed US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once stated, “This is a Court of Law, not a Court of Justice” to a young lawyer during a case. Some interpret Holmes words as meaning that justice cannot be given without the due process of the law being followed. At its root, it is the concept that just because a person may be the victim of a criminal act, the offender has legal rights also that cannot be overlooked, no matter how egregious the circumstances. So it seems that this is the struggle many Black Americans and political pundits are facing with the shooting of Botham Jean by Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger.

After killing Botham Jean, Guyger claimed that she mistakenly entered his apartment and shot him when he failed to obey her verbal commands. She was eventually arrested and charged with manslaughter three days later and bonded out two hours later without spending a night in jail for the homicide of Botham Jean. Soon, the public learned that a search warrant was issued for the home of the shooting victim and a small amount of marijuana was found. The smear campaign began and the family attorney called the police investigation “nefarious” and questioned the motivation of the Texas rangers, who stated that the shooting was “without malice.”

Most can see there is something inherently wrong with this picture. The public is being asked to suspend their disbelief over the facts of the shooting and instead listen to the words of a cop who claims she killed a Black man relaxing in his home by mistake. The public has been told she was part of an elite unit and well honed in her investigative skills and that it was all an accident. Here is what the public at large is supposed to understand:

  • She ended her shift and clocked out correctly.
  • She knew enough to go to the correct police locker and retrieve her belongings.
  • She knew where her car was parked at in the police parking lot and got into the correct vehicle with her correct set of keys.
  • She correctly drove from work to her correct apartment building.
  •  Then upon entering her parking deck she suddenly was struck with forgetfulness and parked on the wrong level. But she remembered to get her keys and belongings.
  • She then went to the wrong apartment that had a red placemat in front, something she never had at her residence. Then she fails to recognize the lighted apartment numbers on the wall.
  • She then tries to use her keys which do not work on the wrong apartment and gives two different stories on how she wound up murdering  Botham Shem.
  •  She turns on the lights and realizes that she is in the wrong apartment and calls 911 as Botham breathes his last on the floor.

It’s a hell of a story for many to swallow and to believe that the police are not continuing to give Guyger preferential treatment while clamping down on dissent. This preferential treatment even allowed her to clean up and delete most of her social media and move out of her residence without a search warrant being issued.

This week, nine people who protested the unlawful shooting of Botham Jean were jailed for 15 hours until they could be appear before a judge. These nine peaceful protesters have spent more time in jail for use of free speech than Guyger got for using her gun and manslaughter charges. The nine protesters blocked the entrance to an NFL game at AT&T Stadium this past Sunday in Dallas, Texas. By the time police arrived to tell them to disperse, the group was already walking away. But according to media outlet Blavity, the group was arrested and charged with obstructing a pathway, a class B misdemeanor.

It must be asked: will Black America be shown what the law requires or what justice demands?

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.



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