The Botham Jean Case, Race, Justice, and Faith

by Alexei Laushkin

The case of Botham Jean has been on my mind and something I’ve tracked since the killing took place. Botham Jean was a worship leader at the Dallas West Church of Christ.

Here was a young man pursuing Jesus and leading and contributing to the people of God. His unjust death on September 6 2018 was a shock and so subsequently it was a story that I would periodically follow. An off duty officer came into his apartment, thinking it was her own and shot and killed Botham Jean.

From the very beginning the officer, Amber Guyger begins to give inconsistent testimony as to the circumstances surrounding his killing. On September 12 2018 protesters shut down the Dallas City Council meeting saying, ‘no justice, no peace.’

On September 13 2018 the day of Botham Jean’s funeral the Dallas Police Department releases information that small traces of marijuana were found in his apartment. The timing and handling of the case to date provoke an outcry. By September 24 2018 after much outcry from the community officer Guyger is fired from the Dallas Police Department.

On the 26th of September the family sues the city of Dallas for civil rights violations. In November the grand jury changes the charges from manslaughter to murder citing lack of evidence to support the lesser charge.

In April a 911 call is released which shows officer Guyger’s chief concerns were that she would lose her job. Towards the end of the call she says that she was very tired. The family notes that the dispatcher fails to ask basic questions on Botham Jean’s condition during the call.

The trial starts September 23 2019. A few days later a conviction of guilty is reached and its within this context that Brandt Jean, Botham’s brother speaks (click here)

When you see the details of the trial. It’s easy to see the city and the police department dragging their feet. You can see the politics at play and the anger of people of conscience at how blind most of society is to abuse in our judicial system.

Grace is costly in such a context. Forgiveness that does not detract from justice. God entering into our unwilling spaces to speak life where enmity and brokenness seem to have the last word.

Yet God has the last word. The legacy and life of Botham Jean has the last word. Until death is swallowed up in victory and until the day that all the Botham Jean’s of this land find ultimate justice and all those who have perpetuated violence and have an opportunity to turn form sin, do so.

This is the legacy of God at work in brokenness and in a broken culture that can barely see its own short comings. And yet somewhere it is written. But for those who have salt and light and embody Christ to the world, judgment would come.

This is from Allison Jean, Botham’s mother and speaks to the greater work of justice that is ongoing.

 


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