There is no place on earth where, as a Black man, I feel safe or immune from police brutality; not even at home.
The events surrounding Botham Jean’s death are both upsetting and frightening. He was shot and killed in his own home after a police officer alleges she went to the wrong apartment at the end of her 14-hour shift. She says she went to Botham’s door and opened it encountering a black male in his underwear in what she thought was her apartment. Her witness statement alleges she shot him after he ignored her commands. This conflicts with other witness statements that claim they heard banging on the door before the shooting. Following the shooting, neighbors said the officer could be heard pacing and crying walking around the hallway.
I don’t find any solace in the fact that his murderer was arrested. It’s a slap in the face that she has not been fired and that the charge is manslaughter. We’ve seen this episode before. Of the police officers that have been arrested for killing unarmed black men, I can think of only one that has resulted in a conviction, even when the incidents were caught on tape.
To add insult to injury, salt on wounds, The Dallas Police Department embarked on a character assassination campaign releasing findings after a search warrant was served at Botham’s home. That begs the question as to what police were hoping to accomplish in searching the victim’s apartment and releasing this information. The reality is this is an attempt to assassinate Botham’s character and belay any sympathy the public or a grand jury might have for him. As outrageous as this is, it has been the norm and the lousy song on repeat for as long as we can remember. Victim shaming always seeks to deny sympathy and compassion thereby removing some of the responsibility of the accused. In this case, they could not find a mug shot of Botham; they could only find videos of him serving in his church and community. So they released information about drugs as if to suggest his actions may have led to him being killed in his own home.
Today, Amber Guyger is free, and Botham Shem Jean’s family is mourning his death seeking answers. He was murdered by a police officer who felt she had the right to take his life of her own accord. It does not matter that Botham served his community and his church. It does not matter that Botham was educated and had no known criminal record. He was just a black body to officer Guyger. All of this because of the lack of value and importance put on black lives and people refuse to believe Kaepernick the police brutality, injustice, and oppression knelt in protest of actually exists.