Reggie Fullwood: Was Dallas Police Sentencing Restorative Justice or Blacks Being Too Forgiving?

Amber Guyger, 31, broke down in court as she began testifying in her own defense on Friday

First, let me give my disclaimer. My goal in writing this commentary is to be as objective as possible because I think that both sides of this debate have very valid points. The issue is essentially a matter of perspective.

For those who have been in a cave in Aruba for the past few weeks, I am talking about the case of Amber Guyger, the white former police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Black neighbor in his own apartment and was found guilty, but only sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The former white police officer said that she thought that she was entering her own apartment when she shot Botham Jean, a 26-year-old St. Lucia native, church singer and accountant who was simply sitting on his sofa eating ice cream. And that’s why so many people are confused about the murder – how do you walk into another person’s home and not realize that the furniture and décor is not yours?

During the sentencing portion of the trial the 18-year-old brother of the victim, Brandt Jean, said to Guyger, “I love you as a person and I don’t wish anything bad on you.” He then shocked many of us and asked if he could hug his brother’s killer. And later on during the same hearing, the African American female judge also hugged Guyger and prayed with her. Wow!

For many African Americans, this trial really spotlighted issues of racial injustice and police accountability. Most would agree that if a Black man had shot and killed an unarmed white man in his own apartment the courts would have thrown the book at the brother.

It’s important to note that Guyger, who is 31, could have faced up to 99 years in prison, but only received 10 years. Prosecutors had asked for a sentence no less than 28 years — the age Jean would be if he were still alive. If you take the “Black lives matter” angle – giving a person 10 years for the cold blooded murder of an unarmed Black man in his own apartment seems like the undervaluing of an African American life.

To make matters worse, it was revealed in the trial that Guyger mocked her black colleagues and joked about the death of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Guyger said her actions toward Botham Jean had nothing to do with race, and she testified to her remorse and said the shooting was “about being scared” rather than “about hate.”

After the sentence was handed out by the jury, Jean family lawyer, Lee Merritt said the sentence was indicative of a broken system, one in which institutional racism is the rule and people of color are treated unjustly.

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Source: Black Press USA

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