How Much Does A Dollar Cost: When Will We Recognize The Value Of Black Life?

How Much Does A Dollar Cost:  When Will We Recognize The Value Of Black Life?

“…acting ‘under the color of state authority’…

This is the phrase found in the federal lawsuit filed Thursday by S. Lee Merritt, the lawyer for the Jean Estate. The lawsuit is against the city of Dallas, Texas and former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger.

In hearing this information this week, I was reminded of this sickening pattern of financial resolution which in these situations of police murder. The money fixes nothing!

The person, the unarmed black man or woman, is still dead. The offending officer is often fired. Or in the case of Tulsa Officer Betty Shelby, put back on the police force after a polite administrative leave.

S. Lee Merritt, along with the family of Botham Jean, is petitioning for Amber Guyger to be charged with murder. The affidavit written from former Officer Guyger’s account leaves the critical-thinking public with questions. It leaves a community comprised of people of color more suspicious, anxious and more distrustful of the police.

Botham Shem Jean was murdered in his home by an off-duty police officer. Whom was still in uniform. With her service weapon. Whom has an account, a story, of what happened on September 6, 2018, which does not lend itself to logic. Former Officer Guyger committed what amounts to a home invasion! In that home invasion, while off the clock, but in her police uniform, she killed someone. Her sole account does not lend itself to close scrutiny.

The further insult? Her toxicology report as it relates to her sobriety for this night has not been released.

Acting under the color of state authority.

In this acting under the color of state authority, there was a search warrant issued for a dead man’s apartment. Alison Jean, Botham Jean’s mother, now calls former Officer Guyger ‘the devil.’ I’m fond of saying this phrase in our current time of social upheaval: ‘hit a bigot in the pocket.’

Authority, however corrupt, still recognizes economics.

Authority, however corrupt, still recognizes authority–even to hide from it.

This lawsuit is a tool; getting the city of Dallas to recognize this cannot be airbrushed away. The facts of this case can be debated, but not altered. Perhaps, this is a door to amended charges against former Officer Guyger to include murder. Perhaps in using the language of the law, speaking the languages of the oppressor, something will change.

Perhaps the next time an angry police officer thinks they are within rights to perform a home invasion because of noise complaints on an upstairs neighbor, they will remember Amber Guyger.

Maybe they will think because she didn’t get away with it, neither will they.

Then, maybe Black lives will matter — one cop at a time.

Jennifer P. Harris

Jennifer P. Harris

Jennifer P. Harris is a lifelong St. Louis, Missouri resident, married mother of two, and founder of the blog The Ideal Firestarter ( since December 2016. She is a freelance writer, and contributor to the blog Write To Life. She is an independent author of several books available on Amazon, including the poetry series Love Songs Of the Unrequited, and her newest release, Writelife.