AN UNARMED black man who was murdered by a white female police officer in his own home got justice because he was a “near-perfect” person of colour, a lawyer representing his family has said.
Botham Jean, 26, who was from St Lucia, was shot dead by Amber Guyger, 31, on September 6 2018 in Dallas, Texas.
Guyger, who trespassed into Jean’s apartment, said that she believed Jean was an intruder in her own and was “scared he was going to kill me”.
She was found guilty of murder in the first degree on Tuesday and faced up to 99 years in prison. She was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in jail.
While the sentence length has been criticised by campaigners and sparked protests, it has been heralded as a turning point by others, notably the legal team representing Jean’s family.
Speaking after the jury’s verdict was announced, Benjamin Crump described Jean as a “near-perfect person of colour” and said this characterisation played a significant factor in the jury’s decision to find Guyger guilty.
Crump reeled off some of Jean’s achievements but said that they should not be a necessary prerequisite to receive justice and to be treated equally.
He said: “Botham Jean was a near-perfect person of colour. So, this jury had to make history in America today, because Botham was the best that we had to offer. A 26-year-old, college-educated black man, certified public accountant, working for one of the big three accounting firms in the world, Pricewaterhouse Coopers. But it shouldn’t take all of that for unarmed black and brown people in America to get justice.”
Crump and his co-counsel Lee Merritt and Daryl Washington said that the ruling had set a precedence. Crump also said that they believed it was the first time a white police woman has ever been convicted of killing a black man in America.
The civil rights lawyer closed his speech by listing numerous black Americans who have died either at the hands of white police officers and law enforcement in the US or during interactions with them.
He said: “This verdict is for Trayvon Martin, it’s for Michael Brown, it’s for Sandra Bland, it’s for Tamir Rice, it’s for Eric Garner, it’s for Antwon Rose, it’s for Jemel Roberson, for EJ Bradford, for Stephon Clark, for Jeffrey Dennis, Genevieve Dawes, for Pamela Turner, for so many unarmed black and brown human beings all across America.”