Police officers are trained to react quickly and effectively to all types of situations. When they pull a vehicle over for speeding, arrive at a home where a dispute is said to be going on, or respond to a burglary call, there are various tactics they can employ to address the situation or get it under control. While most scenarios do not require police to pull out their firearms, some do, and these professionals are expected to only use them as a last resort. Sadly, many officers often use their weapons as their first line of defense which has led to numerous killings of innocent people.
In September 2018, Dallas police officer Amber Guyger had returned home from her work shift and entered an apartment which she had thought to be hers. Instead, it belonged to 26-year-old Botham Jean. The New York Times highlighted that Guyger stated that when she approached the apartment, the door was “slightly ajar” and “it opened when she tried to unlock it.” When she went inside, she thought Jean was a burglar which is likely her reasoning for firing her weapon causing him to suffer fatal injuries. However, the attorney representing Jean’s family said that neighbors claimed they heard someone banging on the apartment door and demanded to be let in.
The source also highlighted that before Guyger fired her gun, her service weapon was fired twice at Jean hitting him once in the torso. It wasn’t until days later that the officer was arrested and charged with murder. She was released on a $300,000 bond. Jean’s family, who was obviously outraged and heartbroken after learning what had happened, believed Guyger was receiving “favorable treatment,” given the fact that she wasn’t arrested immediately following the shooting [Source: USA Today]. Now, just because the officer was charged with murder doesn’t exactly mean she will be convicted of the crime. There have been plenty of officers who have been criminally charged and eventually walk free.
Another incident occurred involving an Alabama officer who “shot and killed a man he mistook for the gunman in a mall shooting” [Source: National Public Radio]. That officer was not charged with the shooting after the Attorney General determined “the officer was justified and not criminal in fatally shooting [the victim].”
Most police officers who are charged with a criminal offense never face the consequences that fit the crime.
Based on the two scenarios described above, both officers made a mistake that was responsible for taking the lives of two innocent individuals. One officer, who was eventually charged with the crime, may or may not face the consequences for her actions and the other, received no form of punishment for his error. Therefore, it can be concluded that these types of incidents are handled on a case by case basis as the circumstances must be considered before it can be determined what would happen to an officer if they were to mistakenly shoot someone.
And because the justice system often favors badges over civilians, it is clear that if a person or their loved is shot by a Dallas police officer, they will inevitably need to hire a Dallas, TX police brutality lawyer to help them fight back against the officer’s misconduct. Having an attorney who is familiar with the laws that protect citizens and can be used to punish officers only helps increase the chances of holding an officer of the law accountable for their unlawful behavior.