This Texas Cop Killed Botham Shem Jean in His Own Home

Botham Shem Jean was relaxing at home in his apartment when Dallas police officer Amber Guyger walked in the door and shot him. Her excuse? She thought she was entering her own apartment and assumed he was an intruder.

Jean came from the island of St. Lucia, immigrating to the United States to study accounting and later becoming a naturalized citizen. He worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers, an international professional services firm, and he was also very active in the church. At 26, Jean had a lengthy career and life ahead of him. He was surrounded by a loving family who are grieving his death and seeking answers.

Advocates don’t find Guyger’s story very convincing or comforting — especially in light of the fact that it took three days for authorities to arrest a white police officer in the shooting of a black man, with preliminary charges of manslaughter.

In a country where police officers are killing thousands of black people every year, this is yet another police shooting — and yet another reminder of the racial inequalities that plague the United States. Had the races in this situation been reversed, the case would likely have been handled very differently.

There are a lot of questions about the series of events as presented by Guyger, who claims that Jean’s door was unlocked, allowing her to walk right in. Residents on the second floor say they heard banging and shouting, suggesting that Guyger found the door locked — and could have had time to figure out that the residence wasn’t hers, given that her keys clearly wouldn’t have worked in the door. Jean’s doormat should also have been a clue, since it’s bright red and hard to miss.

Guyger also maintains that she issued “commands” to Jean, and he failed to comply — for which he can hardly be blamed. If someone burst into your apartment at 10 p.m. and started screaming at you, you might understandably be confused, alarmed or fearful — but not necessarily ready and willing to comply with that person’s orders.

While Guyger was quick to call 911 and render first aid, it’s curious that she chose to escalate the situation so quickly — even if she somehow missed multiple cues that this was not her apartment, why rush to assume that a presumed intruder was a mortal threat?

This isn’t the first time Guyger has been involved in a shooting. But this shooting is a little unique, because she wasn’t on duty at the time, although she was in uniform. She isn’t the first off-duty cop to kill, and while we don’t have insight into what Guyger was thinking, it’s certainly possible that she assumed, as do other officers, that her law enforcement status would protect her from the consequences of her actions.

While Guyger was arrested on charges of manslaughter, a grand jury may decide that a murder charge is more fitting. The outcome of a grand jury investigation and indictment may take months, but advocates will be watching closely.

Grand juries have a tendency of letting killer cops escape relatively unscathed, even in cases where substantial evidence clearly indicates that there are enough issues to bring a case to trial.

Guyger is out on bail, though she has been placed on administrative leave. Such leaves, it should be noted, typically come with full pay and benefits.

Photo credit: Roscoe Myrick/Creative Commons

50 comments

Robert G
Robert G1 months ago

Good article, SE Smith. Why has there been no passionate response? Been 10-days, and I guess, lives do not matter. Police can kill without accountability. The Gestapo were able to kill without accountability. Managers have no responsibility once they begin getting the big bucks. Recently, I noticed that few bills are in Congress to "fix" the abuse by the justice system. Jeff Sessions continues to be asleep at the helm. Few people are "tagged" on injustice you tube sites. There seems to be little interest in the corruption.

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Robert G
Robert G1 months ago

Thank you, SE Smith, for writing an article with the right questions and answers. This makes me sick. The details are sufficient to show doubt in the policewoman’s story. One additional point – the uniformed officer had responsibility to identify herself, instruct the person to assume a safe position against the wall or floor, and if he failed to do so, her training is sufficient to allow her options not lethal force. She is trained to subdue suspects. She is trained to call on her radio for backup. She is trained to identify the correct residence. She is trained to do so with verbal strength and be convincing. She is trained to use a taser or stick, non-lethal force, before she can claim fear for her life required for shooting someone. Her training sucks. Her police department and senior police staff should also be held accountable, and they should either be fired or their records administratively marked for their failure to properly train their subordinate. We need to get the attention of senior staff before they will have an incentive to change. These demands should be echoed by the press and to the local city and state attorney general office. There needs to be accountability.

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Shirley S
Shirley S2 months ago

I hope TRUE JUSTICE is served.

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timothy m
timothy m2 months ago

"police officers are killing thousands of black people every year" – not even close to thousands!

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Dave f
Dave f2 months ago

Thanks for sharing .

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Leo Custer
Leo Custer2 months ago

Thank you for posting!

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Kathy G
Kathy G2 months ago

Thank you

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Kathy G
Kathy G2 months ago

Thank you

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Teresa Antela
Teresa Antela2 months ago

Every day I feel worse with the news that comes to me. What kind of world is this we live in now? Everywhere one sees only misery, misery, lack of morals and ethics ... The good news is so few to compensate for all the evil that surrounds us. No matter how hard we try to reverse things, the fact is that, at least by my side, I am feeling powerless. I know I'm under a terrible depression but everydays news doesn't help!

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