“There are fundamentally two ways you can experience the police in America: as the people you call when there’s a problem, the nice man in uniform who pats a toddler’s head and has an easy smile for the old lady as she buys her coffee. For others, the police are the people who are called on them. They are the ominous knock on the door, the sudden flashlight in the face, the barked orders. Depending on who you are, the sight of an officer can produce either a warm sense of safety and contentment or a plummeting feeling of terror.”
– Chris L. Hayes
This seemed like a timely quote given the Dallas shooting last Thursday evening. Here’s my attempt at the rundown. Fair warning: the story’s changed more than a few times and I’m starting to get a bit dizzy.
The bare bones details are that Amber Guyger, a white Dallas police officer, shot and killed Botham Jean, her black neighbor, last Thursday night. In his apartment. While she was off duty.
Here’s the breakdown from the last week.
Part 1: Botham Jean was at home. In the middle of the night Amber Guyger came to his door in uniform and shot him twice. She claimed she walked up to Botham’s apartment thinking it was her own, her keys didn’t work, and she thought he was an intruder there to kill her.
Part 2: Three days later the Dallas PD issued an arrest warrant for manslaughter, but the Texas Rangers removed the warrant and sent the officer home “because she was cooperative.”
Part 3: Another Dallas police officer spoke with NBC 5 and shared Guyger’s initial report about the event. Guyger was with the department’s elite Crime Response Team and had just finished a 14-hour shift serving warrants in high-crime areas. Once home she took the elevator to the wrong floor, went to what she thought was her door, put the key in and struggled with the lock. Guyger put down the items she was holding and was still struggling with the key when the resident swung open the door and startled her. Guyger believed Jean was an intruder and shot him with her service weapon.
Part 4: Guyger shifts her story to say the door was unlocked but closed, and when she opened it she yelled at Jean to put his hands up. Neighbors only report hearing “open the door!”, not “show your hands!”
Part 5: Now Guyger’s saying the door was slightly ajar when she arrived and it fully opened when she inserted her card key. The main problem with this detail is a video posted showing the apartment complex doors are weighted to close automatically.
Part 6: Oh, and then there’s the bright red doormat that was in front of his apartment.
So many questions that all boil down to one thing…isn’t there anyplace safe for a black man in America?
Linda hosts One Liner Wednesday. Check out her blog to meet some other participants.