Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer who shot and killed Dallas accountant Botham Jean while in his apartment, mistakenly believed to be the assailant Guyger’s apartment, was found guilty and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison.
There is a great deal of outrage, both online in social media and in the real world, mostly in the city of Dallas, contending that the sentence handed down by the jury was too lenient and that the brother of Botham Jean and the black female judge presiding over the Guyger trial were far too willing to forgive and zealous in showing their compassion to Guyger after the trial in that both hugged Guyger and showed her a level of human kindness that the vast majority of us feel Guyger lacked in gunning her victim down in a perplexing and inexplicable incident.
For the record, I understand and share the outrage many people feel about the ultimate outcome of the trial. Guyger deserved to spend at least the next 30 years of her life behind prison walls. History is replete with sad and reprehensible stories of white perpetrators getting light punishment, at best if at all, for killing unarmed and/or innocent black victims, especially and lately, at the hands of mostly white police officers.
However, I think we should take a moment, as I’m often want to do, to analyze this particular situation and judge the outcome strictly on the individual and particular merits.
Firstly, the compassion shown to Guyger should be the standard we as a society should show to any criminal defendant. While I wouldn’t be inclined to forgive, much less hug, someone who gunned down my brother or another loved one of mine, I’d certainly like to live in a society where more of us held that much compassion, humanity, and forgiveness for those who transgress against us. The world would be a far better place to live in.
Secondly, while a ten year sentence appears egregiously light in this case, none of us casual observers served on the jury, carefully weighed the evidence presented (or even heard all of the evidence presented), and deliberated upon said evidence. It is debatable whether Guyger got off lightly, but if Botham Jean’s family is okay with the outcome, then perhaps we who are not members of his family should take our cues from them.
Lastly, and most importantly, Guyger didn’t get away with her crime unscathed. A former police officer who is now a convicted felon is not exactly set up to resume life as she knew it before her fateful and tragic mistake that led to her taking a man’s life. She will likely have to serve her time in protective custody, as putting her with the general population would likely be tantamount to a death sentence. Even when she is released, she will likely carry the burden that accompanies being a high-profile convicted felon. There will always be people who think she should have gotten life in prison and will treat her accordingly. I certainly wouldn’t want to trade places with her, even though I think getting only ten years for what seems more intentional than accidental is not fair to Botham Jean.
No, Guyger will likely not prosper going forward after her conviction and sentencing and unlike in years past, she faced judgment and was not acquitted.
I personally take the small victories when and where they are achieved.
-The Rational Ram