Anupama Denise

Anupama Denise

Anupama started "Say Their Names" in 2020, an Anthology of Stories of the Black and Brown humans lost to police violence. She believes strongly that sharing stories creates change.

In Loving Memory of Botham Jean Brother, Son, Harding University Graduate

This case… “shattered the idea that law abiding citizens can be safe in their own homes.” – Erik Ortiz and Alex Johnson

“Botham Shem Jean, a 26-year-old black man, was a Harding University alumnus and an accountant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).” – Wikipedia⁠. Botham had graduated from college two years before being shot and killed in his own home.

Crime: In his own home⁠, enjoying ice cream and watching TV… while being black.

Death: An off-duty police officer entered his apartment, thinking it was hers. Assuming someone was in her home instead of realizing she was in the wrong home, she fatally shot and murdered him. ⁠

Sentence: The murderer only got 10 years for taking the life of this man. ABC News reports that the Prosecutors recommended 28 years, the age Botham would be today.

While in the trial, Jean's brother publicly forgave the murderer for taking his brother from their family, his mother continued to struggle with the trauma of having lost her son.

“I cannot sleep. I cannot eat. It's just been the most terrible time for me.” – Jean's Mother. 

There are two things that strike me about this case. The first, the 911 call that the murderer made after killing Jean. ABC News reports, “In the call, Guyger repeatedly tells a dispatcher, ‘I thought it was my apartment,' and says, ‘I'm going to lose my job.'” 

I cannot imagine what it is like to be tired after a shift, go into an apartment that you think is yours, shoot and murder someone, and then call 911. I don't know if my first thoughts would be, “I'm going to lose my job.” Perhaps she didn't know he was gone at the time. Perhaps she didn't care. Obviously, she didn't care enough to ask before she let loose the bullets that ended Botham Jean's young, and promising life. It strikes me, however, that it is what came to the surface during her call. Not the man's life who hung in the balance.

The second thing that strikes me about this case, in case it didn't strike you, is that the killer was charged with manslaughter, which Legal-Dictionary describes as “the unjustifiable, inexcusable and intentional killing of a human being without deliberation, premeditation, and malice. The unlawful killing of a human being without any deliberation, which may be involuntary, in the commission of a lawful act without due caution and circumspection.”  For this charge, defined as ‘unjustifiable', ‘inexcusable' and ‘unlawful', for a crime that ended another human being's life, she was sentenced to only ten years in prison. 

Botham was a beloved community member, a dear family member, a brother, son, a graduate of Harding University, and an accountant with a long career and life ahead of him. May he rest in peace.

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