Former Dallas Cop Found Guilty For Shooting Man In His Apartment

Cristiano

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Dakota Tebaldi

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Good.

If this person had been allowed to forcefully break into someone else's home and shoot them "in self defense" the justice system in Dallas would truly have become a complete parody of itself.
 

Beebo Brink

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If Amber Guyer was really afraid for her life, she could have stepped outside the apartment and called for backup. Instead she went in gun blazing, which guaranteed someone would die and that she didn't particularly care who it might be. Gross negligence.
 

Tigger

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I remember this case from when it happened. I simply cannot believe her story, its nonsense.
She thought it was her apartment it was exactly dark enough that she couldnt tell that all the furniture and decorations were different and not hers while at the same time just light enough to see the guy in it and shoot him.

I just do not believe there was any accident here.
 

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I never bought her "reasons". There was a red mat in front of his door, but nothing in front of her's. And I'm sure those apartments aren't really large...the light from the TV should have provided more than enough illumination to see that it wasn't a familiar apartment. I mean, Botham was eating ice cream while watching TV. People don't tend to eat in the pitch dark.

I wasn't there for the trial, of course, but from everything I've read and heard, the jury made the right decision. No innocent person should ever be killed in their own home and it just be chalked up to a "mistake".
 

Beebo Brink

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One of the most basic rules of hunting with a rifle is "don't shoot if you can't see your target." Because that flash of movement could be a deer, or a bear, a horse, a dog or a person. If you don't know, don't shoot.

Even if you give Guyger the benefit of the doubt and ignore the troubling details, the best that can be said is that she -- as a trained officer with a gun -- made the decision to shoot into the darkness without really knowing who was there. She had the easy option to retreat and wait, to call for backup, but she chose to fire her gun at an undefined target, with full awareness that it could be a killing shot. She may not have intended to kill an innocent person, but she was consciously trying to kill someone. So murder seems a just verdict for that decision.

Any other scenarios just get worse. If there was enough light to see Botham coming at her, there should also have been enough light to see it wasn't her apartment and he wasn't armed. If he was watching TV, why didn't she hear that sound? Did she really expect a burglar to be watching TV? What if this was maintenance guy in her apartment fixing a leak to the floor below?

And although it's not really relevant, her primary concern from the second she fired her gun appears to be "I'm going to lose my job" rather than "I just killed an innocent person."

What disturbs me most of all is this:
Dallas County Medical Examiner Chester Gwin testified Wednesday that the gunshot that killed Jean entered the left side of his chest from a downward angle, which could suggest that he was not standing when he was shot.
 
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The sentencing phase of the trial is happening right now. It is being broadcast live.

 

Beebo Brink

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Yup, she's a real peach.


 

Innula Zenovka

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I don't know what the law in Texas is, but in England and Wales (dunno about Scotland) you're allowed to use reasonable force in self defence,, but only as much as is strictly necessary, given your understanding of the circumstances at the time.

That sounds to me not dissimilar to the test in Texas but, anyway, it's generally considered a pretty generous test legally speaking. Defend yourself, certainly, but don't then give your opponent what you think he deserves for attacking you (or breaking into your house).

And if you do kill him, then the jury need to accept that you were, or may have been, in genuine fear for your life at the time, and had no reasonable alternative but to use potentially lethal force.

Seems to me that Guyger's account is pretty questionable on both limbs.

First, the jury were asked to accept that she did, in fact, think she was in her own apartment and that the victim (who was apparently sitting on the couch eating ice-cream at the time) was an intruder, and that at no time did she notice the difference in furnishings, decorations or anything else between her apartment and that of her victim.

Then, if the jury accepted that, they also had to agree that a trained police officer, shocked and frightened though she may well have been to encounter this apparent intruder, didn't immediately retreat and call for reinforcements, rather than shooting him, since while she may reasonably have feared he was armed in some way, there was no weapon in view and he had made no hostile movements towards her.

Both parts of the story seem to me utterly unbelievable, so it's hardly surprising the jury wouldn't buy it.
 

Innula Zenovka

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The law varies from US state to state, but Texas is a "Stand your ground" state. See the linked article for what that means.
Thank you. I don't quite see what standing your ground has to do with it, I'm afraid, since, at least as I understand the article, the degree of force you use while standing your ground has to be reasonable, and I struggle to see how it can be reasonable to use any force at all if retreating is an option.

Be that as it may, it seems that English law is more permissive than Texan law, as I understand it, since there's never been a duty to retreat here, and our only requirement is that the force used be reasonable in the light of the defendant's understanding of the circumstances, but nevertheless, I can't see that her story sounded remotely believable.
 

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Thank you. I don't quite see what standing your ground has to do with it, I'm afraid, since, at least as I understand the article, the degree of force you use while standing your ground has to be reasonable, and I struggle to see how it can be reasonable to use any force at all if retreating is an option.
There's a couple of tricky things here both with "stand your ground" in general and its supposed application in this case. IANAL by the way, this is just what I've picked up from hearing more legally-educated people talk about this so take that however.

Generally, in stand-your-ground cases, whether "reasonable force" means deadly force is left to whether the shooter believed he was at imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm by their attacker. It becomes controversial because it means that someone who was objectively no threat whatsoever can still be legally killed if the person "standing their ground" simply perceived they were a threat, for whatever reason. Needless to say this is highly problematic, considering the fact that white people tend to perceive black people as threatening in any context. This is a literally real effect that has been demonstrated: this recent study for instance shows white people will consistently perceive a black man as physically larger and stronger-looking than a white man of identical height and build. Black people, apparently, are automatically scary, and that means a law that gives freedom to kill based solely on perception of threat will inevitably lead to the deaths of more innocent black men than any other kind of person. Which is just one reason IMO that Stand-Your-Ground as it exists now needs to die in a fire.

But never mind all that; the way "stand your ground" was involved in this case was convoluted and I am VERY glad the jury didn't buy it because it would've set a disastrous precedent.

There's a thing called "Castle Doctrine", that exists in most places in the US even where "stand your ground" does not. Castle Doctrine says that you have no duty-to-retreat from an attack by an intruder inside your own home. "Stand your ground", in states where it exists, is really nothing more than Castle Doctrine on steroids - it just extends its protection so that you have no duty-to-retreat from an attack not only inside your own home but anywhere you have a legal right to be. Now you might be thinking, "Guyger had no legal right to be inside Botham's apartment, which she had essentially forced her way into uninvited" (and you would be 100% right about that, thank the gods); but Guyger's legal team was attempting to argue that since Guyger honestly perceived that she was in her own apartment, where she would have unquestionably been protected by stand-your-ground law, that mindset made her action to defend herself just as valid as if she had been correct - much in the same way that if you honestly perceive a person is pulling a gun on you, you can stand-your-ground and kill them in self-defense even though it turns out they were actually just pulling out their phone and there wasn't really anything there to defend yourself against.

Now you and I can argue about whether we think Guyger's claim that she "honestly perceived that she was in her own apartment" was BS or not (I certainly think it was, fight me), but the good news is that the jury's verdict didn't address her honesty. The precedent that has been set is that a false perception that you have a legal right to be where you are isn't good enough for Stand Your Ground to apply.
 

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Good.

If this person had been allowed to forcefully break into someone else's home and shoot them "in self defense" the justice system in Dallas would truly have become a complete parody of itself.
Just a point of fact; she didn’t “forcefully break in”. The door was slightly ajar, apparently they’ve had problems at that complex with the front doors not latching properly.

But at any rate, I believe that she was rightly found guilty, and I hope she spends a long, long time behind bars.
 
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Beebo Brink

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There's a thing called "Castle Doctrine"...
Somewhere in the articles I've read, there was mention that the jury asked how the Castle Doctrine would pertain to Jean, not just Guyger. Whether Jean would have been justified in shooting the police officer who stormed his apartment. So trying to use that concept for the defense may not have been as effective as her lawyers hoped.
 

Innula Zenovka

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Now you and I can argue about whether we think Guyger's claim that she "honestly perceived that she was in her own apartment" was BS or not (I certainly think it was, fight me), but the good news is that the jury's verdict didn't address her honesty. The precedent that has been set is that a false perception that you have a legal right to be where you are isn't good enough for Stand Your Ground to apply.
No, juries don't set precedents. They reach findings as to facts and apply the law to them as directed by the judge.

For a precedent to be set, one side or the other would have appeal to a superior court on the grounds the judge had misdirected the jury on the question of whether a false perception of where you are is good enough for "Stand Your Ground" to be available.

The superior court's decision might well then set a precedent, but a jury's decision can do no such thing. All we can legitimately infer from the verdict is that the jury rejected her account of the events surrounding the shooting, nothing more.

I still don't understand, however, what difference "Stand your ground" is supposed to make in these circumstances.

In the UK, the only question for the jury, assuming they accepted her story about not realising she was in the wrong apartment and genuinely believed she was in her own apartment and the man of the couch was an intruder, would be, "did shooting him represent reasonable force, given her understanding of the the circumstances"?

The prosecution would have asked her questions to elucidate the point, such as "Did he appear to be armed?", "Did he make any movements or gestures you interpreted as suggesting he was about to attack you?", "How are you, as a police officer, trained to deal with a suspect in such circumstances?" and "Why did you consider it more reasonable to shoot him than to retreat and call for backup?

If I live in a stand your ground state and encounter a burglar in my house who immediately surrenders, puts his hands in the air and assures me he doesn't have a weapon, presumably I'm not allowed to shoot him regardless of whether he appears to present a threat or not, since that would unreasonable.

So how does "no duty to retreat" come into it? Isn't that implied anyway by the obligation to use reasonable force?
 
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