Can you imagine an off-duty Tahlequah police officer barging into a neighbor's apartment, blowing him away, claiming he thought he had entered his own domicile to find an intruder - and then expecting the public to believe his lame excuse?
Neither can we, which is why we agree with the jury that found former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger guilty of murder earlier this week. Her 10-year sentence may have been too light for many people's tastes, but at least it sent some sort of message. Her victim's family also sent a message - one of forgiveness.
Guyger had killed her neighbor, Botham Jean, and insisted she thought he was in her own apartment. Local residents will remember this happened on Sept. 6, 2018, after Guyger had pulled a 13-1/2-hour shift on the crime response team. That long day was one reason her supporters gave for her "accident," but those who routinely work extended hours consider that a bunch of malarkey. You don't kill someone just because you put in a little overtime.
Jean wasn't a ne'er-do-well who had been acting suspiciously and deserved what he got. He was a college-educated accountant, well-regarded among peers. He was just sitting there watching television and enjoying a little vanilla ice cream when Guyger barged in, brandished her weapon, and fired on Jean without even attempting to determine what was up. Her hair-trigger response would be laughable if it weren't tragic; how many burglars or would-be rapists eat ice cream in front of the TV while awaiting their prey?
The prosecution said Jean was either rising from the couch or cowering in fear when he was - as the jury said, "murdered." Given Jean's known disposition, the latter would seem to be true. That didn't seem to matter to Guyger, who at least said she was sorry. But she also said that while her crime was not about hate, it was "about being scared" - which makes her unfit to be a law enforcement officer.
That's not the only reason she doesn't warrant the privilege of being sworn to protect and serve. She had apparently been exchanging sexually explicit text messages with her work partner and had been chatting with him on the phone right before she took Jean's life. Her relationship with her partner was patently unethical, to say the least, and if she was all aflutter over steamy texts and anticipation of an impending rendezvous, that may be why she didn't notice the red doormat in front of Jean's apartment - something her own did not have.
Jean was black, and whether Guyger would have killed him if he'd been white is a question that may never be answered. For many observers, that is the point, and racism is a factor. But in the end, it doesn't matter whether she is a bigot; she is not fit to wear a badge or serve in any other capacity that requires her to make life-or-death decisions in the blink of an eye.
Guyger should do her time, and then find an occupation that doesn't require courage, intelligence, and the inherent power of observation - if she can look at herself in the mirror long enough to brush her teeth. Decent cops don't need folks like her giving them a black eye.