By Frederick H. Lowe
I haven’t been able to sleep well at night since the outcome of the murder trial of former Dallas cop Amber Guyger, who shot to death Botham Jean. My wife is worried.
The trial ended last week. The 12-person jury sentenced Guyger to 10 years in prison for the September 6, 2018, murder of Jean as he sat in his Dallas apartment watching television and eating a bowl of ice cream. Guyger, still in uniform, mistakenly entered his apartment, thinking it was where she lived. She saw Jean and immediately assumed he was a burglar before shooting and killing him. Jean was unarmed.
I was disturbed by Jean’s younger brother, Brandt’s, embrace of Guyger. He told her he wished she didn’t have to go to prison.
I was even more disturbed by trial judge Tammy Kemp hugging Guyger, a convicted murderer.
After the jury convicted Guyger of murder, a black woman deputy lovingly stroked her blond hair as she sat stoically in court, seemingly unable to believe that she had been convicted of murdering a black man. That just doesn’t happen. A white man, maybe. A black man, never.
Prosecutors sought to sentence Guyger to 28 years in prison, but a black woman juror voted against it.
She reasoned that Botham would have turned the other cheek, a questionable lesson blacks learned from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Maybe Jean would have turned the other cheek if he were still alive. We will never know, will we?
Was this a murder trial or a Three Stooges comedy sketch masquerading as a trial?
Although the mainstream press called Judge Kemp’s embrace of Guyger an act of compassion, the hug may well have been an act of internalized oppression. No matter how egregious “master’s” behavior, blacks must provide support. Our survival once depended on our being deferential at any cost.
I have never seen or heard of a trial judge hugging a convicted murderer.
Guyger’s white skin and blonde hair earned such treatment. In embracing Guyger, Judge Kemp ignored the racist comments that came out of her mouth. They included her dislike of Dr. King, black Dallas cops and blacks in general. Which raises an important question.
Does Judge Kemp have a history of embracing black defendants convicted of crimes?
Even in the case of the Central Park Five, who were not convicted of murder, the judges harshly admonished them. After their convictions were overturned–not by evidence produced by police or prosecutors but by the confession of the actual rapist– the judges did not embrace the five.
Black men are loath to criticize those they consider “strong” black women.
After the trial, Judge Kemp handed Guyer a Bible. The Freedom from Religion Foundation, an atheist group, filed a complaint against Judge Kemp with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct. The group objected to Judge Kemp giving Guyger a Bible.
Government employees may not use the power and privilege of their offices to preach their personal religious beliefs, FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker point out in a letter to the commission.
“It violates the constitutional separation between state and church for a sitting judge to promote personal religious beliefs while acting in her official capacity,” the letter reads. “She was in a government courtroom, dressed in a judicial robe, with all of the imprimatur of the state, including armed law enforcement officers, preaching to someone who was quite literally a captive audience. Delivering bibles, bible studies and personal witness as a judge is an abuse of power.”