Episode 22 - The 911 call after the murder of Botham Jean

Transcript, Web links and Credits below.

Transcript: Hey Everybody. It’s Wednesday, and it’s the very first day of May, and today I’m going to go back to my roots and do something that I used to do at least once a week when I was the Senior Justice Writer for the New York Daily News. I’m going to unpack and explain some very disturbing audio that was just released from Dallas, Texas. You may remember 8 months ago when a white Dallas Police Officer named Amber Guyger shot and killed an unarmed, non-violent black man in his own home. That man, Botham Jean, was a respected executive at PricewaterhouseCoopers and was literally in his pajamas eating ice cream when he was shot and killed.

Today, for the first time, we have access to Amber Guyger’s 911 call, and I want to let you hear it and analyze it with you — because I don’t think it says or does what her defense attorneys are saying it says and does. Let’s dig in. This is Shaun King and you are listening to (The Breakdown)! --- The system that we call the justice system in the United States of America was not created to provide justice for African Americans. It was created to incarcerate and disenfranchise and penalize and dehumanize Black folks. I mean that literally. Thousands of laws were created with nothing but those goals in mind. Hundreds of thousands of police officers were created with nothing but those goals in mind. Thousands of jails and prisons were designed, built, opened, and staffed with those goals in mind.

And so, anytime we get a case where we have a Black person that was brutalized or killed and that Black family seeks justice, they are forced to find out what I’ve seen hundreds of Black families learn the hard way. This system was not built to provide Black folks justice. In fact, it was built to smother Black folks with injustice.

Have you ever put a CD or DVD into the player upside down? I have. And it’s a peculiar moment because the disc fits perfectly. It’s the right shape. The right size. It’s even the right object. But once you put the disc in upside down, either the player ejects the disc or it tries to play the disc and fails. No matter how many times you put the disc in upside down, it’ll never load and play properly. If you flip it and load it, it’ll play just fine. And that’s what we see in America’s justice system. When 4 white NYPD officers walked up to an unarmed, unsuspecting non-violent Black man named Amadou Diallo, and then shot him 41 times, on the doorsteps of his own home, later claiming that they thought his wallet was a gun, they all got off. But do you know what you’d call four black men that walked up on a white man on the doorstep of his home and killed him in a hail of 41 bullets? You’d call them incarcerated. They’d be sentenced to life in prison in New York and would be executed in many other states. One way and the story leads to certain justice. Flip it, and all of a sudden the system doesn’t work. Let’s play that game another way. Imagine a young Black man walked into the home of a white woman in the middle of the night. Let’s make it in Texas. The white woman is home alone, in her pajamas, eating ice cream, and watching a movie. And imagine a Black man walks right into her home, points, aims, fires and shoots her dead right there in her home. If that case went to trial, let’s say it went to trial 100 times, I can say with reasonable certainty that that Black man is going to be found guilty 100 out of 100 times. Doesn’t even matter the city. He’s going to prison and might receive the death penalty in Texas. But remember what I said earlier? The justice system wasn’t designed to provide justice for Black people, it was designed to incarcerate us. So let’s flip the story. Instead of a Black man walking into the home of a white woman in the middle of the night and killing her, let’s flip the script. And this time, we don’t have to imagine it, because we’re talking about real life. Let me break it down. (Play break it down & DJ scratches) On September 6, 2018, Botham Jean was in his Dallas home, chilling. Minding his own business. Watching TV, eating ice cream, in his pajamas, after a hard days work. He was a good brother. He had never been in trouble a day in his life. He was a deeply committed Christian, sang in the choir, and was a popular executive at the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. He was a jovial, friendly, upbeat brother. He was just 26-years-old and had his whole life ahead of him. He sang so much — so loudly — that people knew him for his Gospel singing and Gospel music. He was a sharp dresser and kept a tight fade. Botham and his family were from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia — a beautiful, peaceful place. I was just there a few weeks ago. And a stranger shot him and killed him right in his own home. He was innocent. He didn’t deserve it. He didn’t threaten anyone. He didn’t confront anyone. A stranger came into his home and shot and killed him. He should be alive and well right now. For all intents and purposes, we shouldn’t even know the name Botham Jean. He shouldn’t be famous. When the roles are reversed in this case, it’s an open and shut case. And the only reason this case is not an open and shut case is because Botham’s a Black man and he was shot by a white woman. Reverse the roles and Botham would have already been convicted — even with his impeccable reputation. Reverse the roles and he’s in prison right now. Which brings me to the audio that was just released from Amber Guyger’s 911 call after she shot Botham. I’m going to play the entire clip for you. It’s 5 minutes long. Her defense team leaked this audio, which is illegal by the way, because they think it makes her look better, but I don’t think it does that at all. I want you to notice a few things. You are going to notice her saying she’s going to lose her job. You are going to notice her saying she’s going to be in trouble. What you aren’t going to hear is a woman who seems desperate to keep Botham Jean alive. It’s clear from this audio that he is not her top priority, but that her own well-being is her top priority. I’ll tell you what else is missing in this audio. Weeks after she murdered Botham, Amber Guyger said that she feared for her life and that he rushed her in some kind of way. Listen to this audio and see if you think that’s true. She never mentions such a thing. She never even alludes to it or suggests it. I think one of two things happened. Reports state that she called the apartment management on Botham before because of his loud Gospel music. She lived right beneath him. I think she might’ve gone up there on purpose to confront him and shot him in some kind of rage. Or she literally just walked into the wrong apartment, saw him, and shot him. Either way, her protections from being a police officer do not apply. She wasn’t on duty. She wasn’t on a call. So either way, she shot and killed an innocent man. Here’s the audio. PLAY AUDIO I have a couple of concerns here. Sources tell me that she deleted text messages that she sent to people while she was on the phone with 911. I’d like to know who she texted and what those texts said. What I hear is a woman who knows that she shot and killed an innocent man and knows that she is now in a world of trouble over it. And local news outlets in Dallas are now saying that this audio somehow exonerates her, but it does no such thing. Under no circumstance is anyone allowed to walk into someone else’s home and shoot and kill them. Period. But here’s what I know, and today I’ll close with this thought. Any justice that we ever receive in this country is justice that we fight for ourselves. And while this should be an open and shut case, as it would if the roles were reversed, justice is still going to be an uphill battle here. ---- Thank you all for making it all the way through this episode of The Breakdown! If you haven’t already subscribed to our podcast, we’ll be right back here every single weekday, breaking down important news stories and issues, and we’d love for you to subscribe on your favorite podcast apps like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Please share this podcast with your friends and family. Our next goal is to get to 100,000 subscribers and we won’t get there without you! Have you left a review yet? On Apple Podcasts we now have nearly 5,000 5-star reviews, but we still want to hear from you so please leave your best review when you get time. Thank you so much to the nearly 30,000 founding members of The North Star whose generosity even makes this podcast possible. Love y’all and appreciate you so much. If you love this podcast and want to support our work – or want to see the show notes and transcript for each episode — we’d love it if you considered becoming a founding member of our community at TheNorthStar.com. There we not only have our podcasts, but hundreds of original articles and stories and commentaries from some of the leading scholars and thinkers and journalists in the world. Lastly, a shout out to our Podcasting Director and Senior Producer, Willis, for his hard work on this and every episode. Take care everybody. ----- Credits: Produced by Willis Polk II Additional production by Ryan “Kno” Wisler Additional Instrumentation by: Christian Idris “Idrys” Shannon & Lance "Lance Fury" Powlis Additional Engineering by Amond “AJ” Jackson for Salem Psalms Library Additional Vocals by Garnett “Natti” Bush Scratches by Kenny “DJ FlipFlop” Vanderberg Contains elements from: “The Prodigal” by Justme