What Happened? Historical Background to the Conflict
This conflict surrounds Botham Jean, a 26 year old business man who graduated from Harding University in Arkansas. He is a native of St. Lucia and held a position with a consulting firm, and was active in his home church as a bible study instructor and member of the choir. Amber Guyger, a 31 year old police officer for Dallas Police Department who had been employed for 4 years and hold a long native history connection to Dallas.
On September 8, 2018, Officer Amber Guyger came home from a 12-15 hour work shift. Upon returning to what she believed to be her home, she noticed the door not completely closed and immediately believed that she was being robbed. Acting out of fear, she fired two shots from her firearm and shot Botham Jean, killing him. Amber Guyger contacted the police after shooting Botham Jean, and according to her, that was the point when she realized she was not in the correct apartment. When questioned by police, she stated that she saw a man in her apartment with a mere 30 foot distance between the two of them and with him not responding to her commands timely, she defended herself. Botham Jean died in the hospital and according to sources, Amber utilized very little CPR practices in an attempt to save Botham’s life.
Following this, Amber Guyger was able to testify in open Court. She was facing 5 to 99 years in prison for a murder conviction. There was a discussion on if Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground laws were applicable but since Amber entered the incorrect apartment, they no longer supported the action committed toward Botham Jean. They supported the potential reaction if the incident happened oppositely, meaning B Botham shooting Amber for entering his apartment.
Inside the courtroom on the last day of the murder trial, Botham Jean’s brother, Brandt, gave Amber a very long hug and forgave her for killing his brother. He cited God and said that he hopes Amber goes to God for all of the bad things she may have done. He stated that he wants the best for Amber because that is what Botham would want. He suggested that she should give her life to Christ and asked the Judge if he can give Amber a hug. The Judge allowed it. Following, the Judge gave Amber a bible and hugged her as well. The community was not happy to see that the law has gone soft on Amber and Botham Jean’s mother noted that she hopes Amber takes the next 10 years to reflect on herself and change her life.
Each Other’s Stories — how each person understands the situation and why
Brandt Jean (Botham’s Brother)
Position: My religion allows me to forgive you despite your actions toward my brother.
Safety/Security: I don’t feel safe and this could have been anyone, even myself. There were witnesses that saw this happen to my brother and caught a portion of this by recording. I am grateful that they were able to record and speak on my brother’s behalf.
Identity/Esteem: As sad and hurt as I am about this, I respect that my brother would not want me to have ill feelings toward this woman due to her short comings. I have to continue to respect and follow the word of God. My brother and I are men of Christ and will continue to love and respect all or our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Growth/Forgiveness: Since I cannot get my brother back, I can follow my religion in efforts to be at peace. This is an incident that is a learning experience and allows her to have time away to self-reflect; it will lead to the minimization of similar incidence reoccurring.
Amber Guyger – The Officer
Position: I was afraid. He was an intruder, I thought.
Safety/Security: As a police officer we are trained to defend. Since our apartments have the same layout, it is difficult to see details that would imply this apartment was not mine. It was dark inside the apartment. Also, my key worked. A working key means I am utilizing the correct lock and key combination.
Identity/Esteem: As a police officer, there is a negative connotation regarding the role in general. There are often intimidating messages and actions that are symbolic of the citizen’s distrust in the field. Since that is a component of my own identity, I remain cautious at all times.
Growth/Forgiveness: I thank the parties for the hugs and things that they have given me and plan to reflect. I have a shorter sentence and will be able to sit down with what I have done and consider changes that can be made in the future shall I be allowed another position in law enforcement.
Mediation Project: Mediation Case Study developed by Shayna N. Peterson, 2019