The Case For Double-Privilege: Black Lives At Odds With Blue Lies
It took the Texas Rangers three days to arrest police officer Amber Guyger for killing a man in his own home. It took a press conference, public pressure, and the mother of Botham Shem Jean, Allison Jean — who is a government official in his native St. Lucia — to get her arrested.
From the time he was killed in his apartment on Thursday, to her arrest on Sunday, this story has shifted with her story the only version mentioned in the subsequent affidavit. The reasons given why she killed Botham Shem Jean in his own home were she thought he had broken into her apartment, and he wasn’t following verbal commands.
The most egregious thing? Officer Guyger was coming home from what is now reported as a 15-hour shift. She was off-duty, yet still in uniform, and shot Botham Shem Jean twice the chest.
Dallas Police Department Chief U. Renee Hall said in a press conference Friday that there was an arrest warrant being sought on Officer Amber Guyger for the charge of manslaughter; a murder charge is still being considered. I was perplexed, and not just for the obvious reasons. What stood out most were these four things:
1.) Officer Guyger got off on the wrong floor; reports claim she lived on the third floor of the South Flats Apartments, above Mr. Jean’s. Both apartments are reported to have identical floor plans.
2.) Officer Guyger went to an apartment she thought was hers, and the key didn’t work. Now, it is reported the front doors to these units have a special electronic key. The door was slightly ajar, and she gained entry with force.
3.) It was reported the apartment was dark, and she didn’t attempt to turn on any lights. With the apartment perhaps having similar floor plans, she should have known where the lights were.
4.) There are independent witnesses who heard this officer knocking and screaming, demanding to be let in.
That group of facts, coupled with the statement released today doesn’t make any sense! She only noticed the apartment wasn’t hers after she shot him, on the phone with 911! According to Friday’s press conference, there was toxicology done for this officer — the results have not yet been released as of this posting.
Early reports claim she was disoriented. From her being disoriented, Officer Guyger went to the wrong floor, going to the wrong door. However, she didn’t recognize the doormat in front of the door. Yet, instead of retracing her steps to make sure she was indeed at her apartment, she decided the better course of action was to gain entry to an apartment unit she didn’t recognize!
Officer Guyger has exercised the benefit of her race and profession, if this affidavit is to be believed, to try and absolve her of any wrongdoing! What makes this situation all the more disconcerting is she committed this act while not on duty. Yet, because she had her uniform on, she possessed the full benefit granted an on-duty officer.
The tantamount observation is people of color, black people cannot be safe in their own homes! There is evidence that it’s not safe for black people to be out in the general public because the police can be called on them for the mundane or rudimentary actions of living. However, the last bastion, one would think, is being black and at home!
This doesn’t bode well for the Dallas Police Department: it lays the foundation for a horrible precedent and is reflective of slave catcher patrols from antebellum history! This reinforces the stereotype that black men need to be subdued harshly, with whatever force possible, and black people, people of color should be denied complete humanity.
Police officers are always given the benefit of the doubt—even off-duty! Could common sense not have overruled the right to use a service weapon?Where is the police accountability? Is this where policing is headed now? Does police protocol now include The George Zimmerman-esque mentality where to question and reason is to be negligent?
If this is so, police reform is overdue! What it means to be an honorable police officer needs to be defined! Police are not above the law, are not immune to consequences, and cannot construct a narrative to preserve the reputation of a police department. Blue lives, like all myths, do not exist. You cannot superimpose a power onto something that can be taken off with buttons or badges.
What is being displayed is the systematic power of The Blue Wall. We are seeing the lengths to which investigations begin, are sustained, and to a greater extent, stymied or hidden.
A police officer killed someone in his home because he didn’t follow her verbal commands. Officer Amber Guyger shot a black man in his chest in his own home when it was dark. Officer Amber Guyger could not be bothered to check a key, floor number or a front door. Officer Amber Guyger, with all her police training, was too ‘disoriented’ to recognize the apartment floor she was on.
I’m sure her privilege can’t be bothered to be checked either.
[image via screenshot/CBS News]