Reprinted from the Dallas Morning News Oct. 3.
We join this community in being relieved that the emotional murder trial of a former cop in the killing of an innocent man has come to an end.
The very best we can expect in a tragic case like this is that our system of law delivers justice and fairness — for a defendant and for her victim.
We believe the system worked as it should have in this instance. Amber Guyger fatally shot Botham Jean in his own apartment, mistaking him for an intruder in hers. She was arrested, indicted and faced the sobering consequences of her actions. No one, not even a police officer, is above the law.
A Dallas County jury convicted her of murder and sentenced her to 10 years in prison. We understand that there can be healthy debate about this verdict and sentence, but we urge the community to accept this jury’s decision and respect the process.
We, of course, still grieve for Jean and for his family. It tore at our hearts to hear his mother and father describe how this bright light in our community will never get to realize his enormous potential.
But we see that fostering civic trust is an important result of this trial. For the sake of transparency, it was important for it to be held here.
It was important for the local citizens on this jury to show that they could execute an impartial review of the facts of this case. We had faith that they could put their personal feelings aside and render a just decision based on what they heard in the courtroom.
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Both Guyger and Jean deserved that.
It was an essential requirement because of the circumstances around this case. An innocent black man was killed by a white officer, which created a racially charged environment rooted in decades of history in Dallas and this country.
And in Dallas County, this isn’t the only recent case in which a jury bucked the national trend and returned a rare murder conviction against a police officer. Two other former officers received prison time, including Roy Oliver, a former Balch Springs officer sentenced to 15 years for fatally shooting unarmed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Another area officer was charged in June.
These shootings happen way too often.
Still, we recognize that the vast majority of police officers in Dallas and throughout this nation put themselves in danger to protect us and diligently do the right thing every day. We support them and call on them to continue to bring professionalism to their work.
The heartbreaking and bizarre facts of this trial were like no other. There’s nothing to celebrate here: An innocent man is dead; a former officer will spend years in prison.
But we hope its conclusion brings a modicum of peace to Botham Jean’s family, and this community can start to heal.