Shot for being at home

I’ve written before about America’s police being way too aggressive and trigger-happy, resulting from poor training, low standards, and outright cowardice. Now we have this story:

A white Dallas police officer who says she mistook her black neighbor’s apartment for her own when she fatally shot him has been arrested on a manslaughter charge.

It’s worth bearing in mind that she’s only been arrested after several days of public outrage at her having been initially merely suspended. I imagine if any non-police officer walked into someone else’s house and shot the owner dead, they’d be treated rather differently.

Lawyers for the family questioned why it took three days for Guyger to be charged. One said Guyger should have been in handcuffs the night of the shooting, but she was only booked on a manslaughter charge Sunday night.


Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says an off-duty police officer charged in the shooting death of a neighbor had parked on the wrong floor of their apartment complex’s parking garage.

Rawlings said Sunday that the 30-year-old officer , Amber Guyger, drove to her apartment complex Thursday night after her shift. Authorities say the four-year veteran of the police force told officers after she shot 26-year-old Botham Jean that she had mistaken his apartment for her own.

Was she drunk? Was she high? We don’t know, because the police aren’t saying. Got to protect their own, you see.

Authorities say a Dallas police officer said she shot a neighbor whose home she mistakenly entered last week after he ignored her “verbal commands.”

Why should a man going about his business in his own home react to the “verbal commands” of a policewoman who has no business being there?

David Armstrong of the Texas Rangers wrote in an arrest affidavit released Monday that Officer Amber Guyger said she didn’t realize she was in the wrong apartment until after she shot 26-year-old Botham Jean and went into the hallway to check the address.

Again, it must be asked: how drunk was she?

An investigator says a Dallas police officer who shot and killed her neighbor after mistaking his apartment for her own said that when she inserted her key in his door, it opened because it had been slightly ajar.

The affidavit says Guyger was on the phone with 911 reporting the shooting when she turned on the apartment lights and discovered she was in the wrong apartment. It says Jean’s apartment was the one right above Guyger’s and the apartment layouts and exterior hallways were nearly identical.

There is an old Soviet film called Ironiya Sudbii, which is based around a man from Moscow getting completely drunk and dumped on a plane to Saint Petersburg. When he arrives he assumes he’s still in Moscow, takes a taxi to his address where he finds an identical building – and an identical apartment whose door can be unlocked by his own key. The owner returns and hilarity ensues but – unlike the story in Dallas – nobody winds up dead.

It’s one thing for police to be heavy-handed when carrying out their duties; they have a difficult job after all, and America is full of violent criminals carrying guns. However, there is absolutely no excuse for a policewoman to mistake a neighbour’s apartment for her own and shoot the occupant dead. She needs the book thrown at her, just the same as if she was an ordinary citizen. The fact the police are dragging their feet and seemingly protecting her while an innocent man lies in the morgue is indicative of how badly things need to change.


31 thoughts on “Shot for being at home

  1. Of course the angle of the story that will be endlessly repeated will be about a white officer shooting a black unarmed person, all other considerations be damned. The dichotomy now playing in US is blacks permanently subjugated by the white racist patriarchal system, so they must always fight back with whatever means available.

  2. In one of Stephen King’s books – ‘Tommyknockers’, I think – one of the characters uses the Dallas Police as symbols of incompetence. It’s nice to see life imitating fiction, isn’t it?

  3. There is also the issue that women, who are not as strong as men, tend to be quicker to use deadly force than men are.

  4. So she went into the hallway to check the address of what she was certain was her own apartment. That’s what she does every time pizza delivery asks for the address! Or certain enough to shoot but not certain enough to do the paperwork?

  5. I don’t know what the real story is here, but I do know it’s not this load of old shit.

    Here’s a theory: his flat his directly above hers, they had disputes over noise, the dispute escalated, she turned it up to 11 and either came up with this story after the fact or was inspired by some terrible daytime drama…

  6. Reminds me of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, in which a fly falling into a typewriter changes a man’s name from “Buttle” to “Tuttle”. He’s arrested by a swat team in his home (entered by the expedient of sawing a hole in the ceiling) and dies under interrogation. It’s not the interrogator’s fault that Mr. Buttle’s heart condition didn’t appear in Mr. Tuttle’s file, you see.

  7. Here’s betting Dallas police will smear the victim.

    As for going into the apartment, passing stuff (furniture, pictures, etc) that wasn’t hers, shooting the occupant then going out to the hall to check if it’s hers… Purleeeze

    MC’s theory much more plausible. Or a “crime passionnel*. Anything but this pile of horseshit.

  8. “Authorities say the four-year veteran of the police force”

    Four years to be a veteran, really?

    Its more likely that because she isn’t a veteran that this happened.

  9. As for going into the apartment, passing stuff (furniture, pictures, etc) that wasn’t hers, shooting the occupant then going out to the hall to check if it’s hers… Purleeeze


    I’ve recently rented my house out… The new tenant hasn’t actually changed very much but it is no longer my house – it doesn’t even smell like my house any more!

    There is much more to this story than we are being told…

  10. And I’m not buying the racist angle either. Race crimes tend to be stranger crimes. Neighbour crimes tend to be because you don’t like his tap dancing, taste in music, his druggie friends or whatever. But not skin colour.

    She’s probably met him in the hallway a few times. So she was so pissed (straight after coming off shift!) she didn’t recognise him!

  11. Not the same I know but the vid doing the rounds now of the female officer being shot in leg by gang member before her partner shoots him in the head shows just how rapid the escalation to deadly violence can be on the job. I would imagine being quick on the trigger is a must and as for shooting to wound… you just have to laugh.

  12. One’s thing for sure, the police unions have had such a tight gripo on the Dems, with sympathy from Reps, that they’ve stitched up police protection, known as Qualified Immunity, so much she’ll likely get away with nothing more than a slapped wrist with a wet lettuce.

    ““Qualified immunity” is a doctrine that protects police from misconduct that would send someone without a badge to jail. Clark Neily and Jay Schweikert discuss the controversy.”

    “Courts are loathe to take cases that might alter or weaken qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that protects police from some of the consequences of serious misconduct. Why? William Baude of the University of Chicago Law School comments.”

  13. And there is nothing what could be done.

    Multicultural society is so dangerous that everybody in Law Enforcement demand licence to kill. Without this right, there will be Ferguson effect, police just quit doing the job.

    Only bad choices . Life with police murders or life without police at all.

  14. The reports are slowly leaking out.

    The man had a red mat in front of his door so her excuse that the flat was in darkness and she did not know that it was her flat is a bit suspect, the neighbours heard her shouting “Police. Open up” and hammering on the door followed by the gunshot(s).

    But as they say, dead men tell no tales and cannot give their side of the story.

    What is the betting that the neighbours will be intimidated and harassed into silence and she’ll plea bargain a lesser, minor charge. If so, then the BLM crowd will kick off big time and there will be another ambush of the Police with several of them ending up shot, some killed.

    Interesting times, eh?

  15. BiND

    You link to this on Cato
    Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine invented out of whole cloth by the U.S. Supreme Court that protects government agents, including particularly law enforcement officers, who violate someone’s constitutional rights from federal civil liability.

    As I read this, you can’t sue the cops in civil court if, e.g. they trash your car and house in the course of duty. If it becomes a get out of jail card for murdering members of the public, the US is f**cked.

  16. As I read this, you can’t sue the cops in civil court if, e.g. they trash your car and house in the course of duty. If it becomes a get out of jail card for murdering members of the public, the US is f**cked.

    We’ve already past that station and are on the way to horizons unknown. The BLM crowd are wrong about blue-on-black violence, but cops in the US have become a lot more nervous and as a consequence a lot more trigger happy.

    We are only hearing a fraction of the story here and I suspect that it isn’t a case of “uppity niggers” and “racist cops” as the extremists on both the right and the left would paint it, but more likely just an unfortunate combination of inconsiderate neighbours, a vicious circle of complaint versus rising animosity, drugs / alcohol and a gun being too close to hand.

    US cops are as far from the Peelian principles of policing as you can get, to the point where they are not just “citizens in uniform”, but an actual threat to the citizenry at large.

    The colour and inconsideration of the neighbour makes no difference. No-one should fear for their own safety in their own apartment and in incidents such as this a badge should not be a shield protecting the wearer from justice which would not apply to a citizen.

    That the police (and more especially the police union reps) do not understand this shows how large the disconnect between the police and civilians has grown.

  17. “She’s probably met him in the hallway a few times.”

    My understanding is that the different levels of the building are associated with a different level car park. So it may be that you only ever meet people from your own floor in the corridor. This raises the question of why she didn’t realise it wasn’t her floor of the car park though – wouldn’t you be used to your neighbours’ cars?

  18. This raises the question of why she didn’t realise it wasn’t her floor of the car park though – wouldn’t you be used to your neighbours’ cars?

    I have no evidence either way, but would suggest she was either:
    – Off her head on drink / drugs or
    – Lying her ass off to save her own skin

    I cannot think of any genuine reason short of extremely rare mental issues causing amnesia (such as Wernicke’s Encephalopathy / Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome) that could explain this otherwise.

    Applying Occam’s razor, I think she got sick and tired of her annoying neighbour and in a fit of anger (possibly exacerbated by drink and/or drugs), used her badge to force her way into his apartment which escalated into him shooting the poor guy dead.

    All the rest of this garbage about “going into his apartment thinking it was hers” is just an attempt to evade responsibility for her own actions. If she wasn’t a cop, her feet wouldn’t have touched the ground between the scene of crime and a jail cell.

    The police uniform is little more than glamour, an illusion to deflect us from the obvious truth.

  19. I don’t know. I lived in Dallas for several years and, well, never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence. I realize her story is inadequate but I could plausibly believe she’s too fucking stupid, weak, and perhaps not sober to have made some sort of mistake, and that her story is something like 75% true.

    These idiots routinely kill people, shoot dogs, and flashbang babies at the wrong address while on duty, is it really that far fetched that they do it off-duty too?

  20. Sam, you may be right about this goona, but ignorance of the law is no defence against the law. Neither is stupidity.

  21. zut alors!

    Its been extended through the criminal justice system in that cops get something like 48 hours after a shooting before they can be questioned, and only then after they’ve had chance to discuss it with their union rep. Those, and other CATO podcasts on the subject are frightening.

    See also civil forfeiture used to bolster police budgets and other perverse incentives and the issuing of military equipment to police forces.

    As John Galt says, the US police are at war with their citizens.

  22. Dallas police might have an extra reason to try and sweep this under the rug.

    There was an Australian woman who got shot in Minneapolis a while back, and it’s now being reported just how unfit for the duty was the officer responsible. Not mentioned in the article is that the officer is a Somalian immigrant, or that Minneapolis has a Somalian immigrant community large enough to make a difference on polling day.

    It’s pretty obvious why the “red flags” were ignored in Minneapolis; I wonder if there were any raised regarding this woman in Dallas.

  23. I live in DFW, and this has been in the news constantly.

    I’m not buying it. This is a no-good-answer situation here. Taking her story at face value, no one is that stupid, and if she is she has no business being a cop. BTW – in this situation she wasn’t on duty, and hence, not a cop. She was given cop privilege though.

    I’ve been to many apartments in this area, no hallways are 100% identical. People put down floor mats, decorate their doors, etc. You have to be stupid as hell or impaired not to notice you’re in the wrong place.

    And the witness testimony I heard wasn’t that she said “police, open up” it was “Let me in, Let me in”. I wouldn’t be surprised on bit that they knew each other and maybe she was screwing him.

    It’ll come out soon enough. It’s not DPD investigating the crime, it’s the Rangers (like the FBI), a state entity.

  24. zut alors et al,

    I’m sure nobody here is defending her actions, merely trying to suss out what actually happened. I don’t think there’d be additional or more serious charges leveled if she was under the influence, but as others have said she might be covering up old fashioned murder, perhaps even premeditated.

    Lock your doors. Keep arms within arms length. Pray you don’t get SWAT’d. Land of the free, ladies and gentlemen.

  25. Sam – remember Jean Charles de Menezes before you get too smug. (Replace with appropriate reference if you’re not from the UK.)

    OT: Richard Branson reckons we should all be doing a 3 day week these days. No word on when Virgin plans to implement.

  26. @Matthew – Richard Branson just trousered about 750m quid selling the bit of the Northern Rock bad bank that he bought off the state some time ago.

    Its nearly one hundred years since Keynes wrote Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren in 1930 in which he predicted that in 100 years time the world would be eight times better of in economic terms and that we would be working a 15 hour week. 15 years out it looks like he will be bang on with his economic prediction but wrong on weekly working hours.

    Shorter working weeks won’t and can’t happen and its to do with ever increasing land values.

  27. If her story is true, I have a good deal of sympathy for the female copper, after all if she’d displayed that level of competence, situational awareness and decision making as a police officer in the UK she’d probably be a Commissioner or Chief Constable by now.

    Also, I fail to see how any non-crime hate episode unfolded here so I can’t see why people are calling for the police to investigate….

  28. I lived in one apartment building in which all of the hallways of each floor looked identical. The apartment numbers were obviously different, but after seeing them for a few years, they subside into background.

    Several times I returned home after a long day, walked up the stairs from the garage, and, my mind being elsewhere, exited on the wrong floor. I then walked to what I thought was my apartment door and tried to let myself in. Luckily for me, no one was ever home, so I avoided major surprise beyond “why won’t my damned key work . . . oh!”

    If the door was unlocked or ajar as she claims, and she walked in to a dark apartment that should have been empty and was confronted with an unexpected presence, I can easily picture this shooting.

    And, yes, it would be entirely her fault, and she ought to be punished for it just as anyone would be punished for a careless death. But, honestly, y’all are looking too hard for evil in a purely fucked-up situation.

  29. But, honestly, y’all are looking too hard for evil in a purely fucked-up situation.

    I’m looking at drink, drugs, and an attitude that being a cop means you can reach for your weapon rather too readily safe in the knowledge you’ll be given ample protection in the event you kill someone.

  30. I wouldn’t be surprised on bit that they knew each other and maybe she was screwing him.

    I’d not be surprised either. In fact, I think it’s likely.

  31. Bloke in North Dorset,

    To describe someone as a “veteran” after a relatively brief time is a normal American usage. I’ve now been in my current job about three years, which makes me a “three year veteran”.

    As for the cop’s story itself, I agree with just about everyone else here: it just doesn’t add up.

    As for “qualified immunity”, this is the first time I’ve heard of it and find it an appalling concept. And I find it even more appalling that it was extended her, even though she was off duty at the time.

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