Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was found guilty of murder by a unanimous verdict on Tuesday, October 2, 2019, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to a Dallas Morning News report.
Guyger killed Botham Jean in his own apartment on September 6, 2018. On that evening, Guyger was returning home from a long shift when she mistakenly entered Jean’s apartment on the fourth floor, which was directly above her own. When she found the door unlocked, she fired on the 26-year-old accountant, who was in the middle of eating a bowl of ice cream, mistaking him for an intruder despite her entering the wrong house.
The defense tried to pull what’s known as “Castle Doctrine” to evade prosecution. Under Castle Doctrine, an individual is able to use lethal force within a legally occupied residency. Thanks to Texas’s relatively pro-gun policies, Castle Doctrine is well-protected in the state. However, since Guyger stumbled into Jean’s house, this kind of protection no longer applied.
Gun owners nationwide caught a major break when this kind of defense was not accepted by the court. This could have opened up a Pandora’s Box of potential abuse. Just imagine, had this case turned out differently by applying Castle Doctrine to intruders—specifically law enforcement in this case–it could be used to excuse the actions of police that barge into people’s homes and excuse the use of excessive force. In sum, this case could have turned out to be a massive power grab for the state.
The good news about this case is that the jurors made it clear that the property owner or resident is without a doubt a king of their domain and are the only ones who can use the Castle Doctrine. Indeed, law enforcement reform is a sensitive subject. Many law enforcement officials carry out their jobs respectfully, but knowing the nature of government service, there are often numerous individuals who give these institutions a bad image in the public’s eye. For that reason, law enforcers must be held to a high standard, and be subject to punishment when they underperform or engage in illegal behavior.
America has a robust legal process that ultimately holds wrongdoers accountable.
The Botham Jean tragedy should not be politicized as a way to incite racial tensions nor should it be used to generate unrest on the streets. At the end of the day, America is a nation of laws and its legal processes should not be at the mercy of outrage mobs nor be bias towards powerful government institutions at the expense of civil rights and liberty protection.