NROP: Compassion – is it ever out of place?

Our brain is a marvelous thing. Sometimes, I feel like my body is an airplane and I the pilot. The body goes wherever I choose to go. But have you ever gone somewhere without consciously going there? I remember being under the influence of alcohol and going for a walk and then walking back home. Truthfully, I remember that it happened, but I cannot recall anything regarding the route I took. My brain was on auto-pilot. My brain knew where to lead my zombie body.

A few years ago, I lived in an apartment complex that had same-looking buildings one right next to the other. This time I was completely sober. (Or potentially drunk on happiness. Too cheesy?) Coming home from work, I opened the gate and walked towards my apartment. I inserted the key in the lock, but the key would not turn. “What is going on?” – I wondered, twisting the key to the left and then to the right. After a while, I took a step back and looked at the apartment number at the top of the door. It corresponded with MY apartment number. “What the heck?” – I was stunned. It was then that I finally realized that I was in the wrong building.

Amber Guyer, a Caucasian woman, former police officer, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last week for killing an innocent African-American male. The incident occurred, when the woman was coming home from work. The reason why she shot Botham Jean, who was having ice cream and watching TV, was that she thought she was in her own apartment. She heard some shuffling, saw a silhouette approaching her, and became scared. She drew her gun and shot the then-presumed offender.

Turns out, it was NOT her apartment. It was his. A chill ran down my spine when I read that. What if the door that I mistook for mine were open a couple of years ago? What if I entered someone’s apartment and was shot because they thought I was the intruder? Honest mistakes do happen. (Not that I am excusing her. I have no opinion on the shooting, because I do not have enough information.) Supposedly, she did ask the guy to show her his hands. I am not sure how exactly the scene played out. Maybe he got aggressive seeing a stranger with a gun in HIS apartment. Or maybe she shot before she thought. 

One of the articles on the topic mentions that the door was “not completely closed or locked due to a malfunction in the door.” Imagine approaching what you believe to be your apartment, seeing the door cracked open, hearing and seeing someone. What would YOU think?

Have you ever heard about people forgiving those who had raped and/ or killed their family members? I choose not to even think about how hard this must be. How brave of an act it is. How selfless. In this case, the brother of the victim took the stand and said: “I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you. (…) I love you just like anyone else and I’m not going to hope you rot and die. (…) I personally want the best for you. I wasn’t going to say this in front of my family, I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want for you. Give your life to Christ. I think giving your life to Christ is the best thing Botham would want for you.” He then requested permission to hug the woman. The judge granted his request. What a beautiful testimony.

Although there is some controversy surrounding the verdict (Is 10 years long enough?), the REAL controversy is in the events that followed the verdict. Judge Tammy Kemp walked out of the courtroom only to return with her personal Bible. She presented it to Amber, opening the book on John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The recipient of the gift outstretched her arms. The judge shook her head, but then gave in and embraced the defendant. Was that not nice?

Some saw this as a beautiful display of compassion. Others, as “inappropriate, biased and potentially unconstitutional.” The Freedom From Religion Foundation even filed a complaint against the judge. Their argument is that it is unethical for the judge to try and convert Amber. I saw no coercion. It was a beautiful gift, which could help the woman during her time in prison and beyond. It was her choice to make. She could take it or leave it. Why make such a big deal out of it?

Some critics also brought race into this. They thought that humanity is too kind for white people. Does that mean that they are advocating for hate? You will not obtain equality by trying to put others down. Rise up! Try to make the world a better place instead of degrading it even more.

It is very easy to condemn people. It is much harder to see the good in them. Even if the goodness is so small that we can barely see it, we should still try to water and nourish it, instead of crushing it.

In the world of violence and quarrels, compassion might be exactly what we need.

What is your opinion on the judge’s moves?

Stay golden,

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56 thoughts on “NROP: Compassion – is it ever out of place?

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  1. The shooting – I have walked into the wrong apartment before. Everyone lived to tell the tale. I don’t live in the wild west where everyone is packing heat, so a scenario where I was shooting hot lead into an aggressive ice cream eater on my couch would be unlikely. Sorry, I mean his couch. If I saw him there I would probably just back away, exit the apartment and call the cops. But if I did live in the wild west, the cops would just show up and shoot him anyways…

    The hug – Nice to show forgiveness. If I had seen Guyer’s racist and violent texts and social media posts, I don’t know if I could forgive her so easily.

    The judge – Pulling out a Bible? Might as well pull out a Doctor Suess book. It might make more sense. Once the jury renders a verdict and the sentence is established, the judge’s work is done. Quoting ancient literature is not helpful in my opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it might depend on the personality. If you think you can handle the threat, why waste time and put yourself in more danger while waiting for “help”? Of course, I know that it is highly recommended that you run/ hide/ fight in that order, but if you’re a cop, you might not think to call… the cops.

      I don’t know about her posts. But the power of forgiveness is magical. I grew to understand that it is more beneficial to ME than it might be to the other person. Sometimes I need to forgive someone to move on. It’s up to me and not to them.

      Yes, her job was definitely done. I don’t know how a different book would “make more sense”. The Bible is very versatile in its teachings. Not just about God, but humanity and life. If ancient literature is not helpful, why do we insist on quoting Aristotle and other philosophers? I think some things are timeless.

      Like

  2. I agree with the guilty verdict and the 10-year sentence. I think it’s awesome that the victim’s family is so full of love and forgiveness toward the killer. I believe it is inappropriate of a judge to give a defendant a gift and/or a hug in the courtroom.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. She is human afterall. Again, this was after the verdict. She is not the only judge to do so. She might be the only (or one of the few) that reacted in such a way in a high-profile case. But other judges have been known for similar actions.

          Like

  3. The aspect that everyone forgets, is that it must be nice to judge in leisure, the actions of others in haste.

    I myself, have mistaken someone else’s car, for my own, when walking to what I assumed was my car, after shopping.

    Whether a person agrees or disagrees with the punishment handed down is irrelevant. An innocent man was killed in his home, by a lady who wasn’t paying attention. Complacency is a killer. The color of the individuals is irrelevant, the sex of the individuals is also irrelevant.

    All that matters is a man was murdered in his home, by an intruder. The intent is irrelevant, since the action was unjustified.

    I can understand that the lady who killed the man, didn’t do it intentionally. However, a life was lost due to complacency.

    This should be a lesson to us all, that we must always be aware of our actions and our surroundings.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Great first words.

      Come to think of it, I, too, kept trying to open a car that was not mine… Damn, I did not realize how absent-minded I can REALLY be. And I consider myself somewhat vigilant and observant. I fear to think how other people are.

      I’m glad you said that race and gender should not matter. I happen to agree. Too often vital lessons are lost in a superficial dispute. A life was lost – that is what matters. Not that it was a black life taken by a white person.

      And a great closing statement. Thanks for sharing, Coffee.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. The word “Compassion” as in the title of this particular blog, made me (immediately) think of the very story you are writing about.

    ***just thought I’d throw that out there before I finish reading”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Murder with malice (showing no remorse, after the fact), should be dealt with quickly, and no long term “stay” allowed.
    Murder with remorse should be treated very differently (say with compassion) but still with strict penalties.
    ***

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “That’s what Botham would have wanted”.
    Oh come on. How do they know?
    If someone would ever say that in behalf of me, I would get up my grave.
    And the hugging.
    I feel it’s a bit of a cry for attention.

    And why does this become a race type of case. Pff.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When my mom passed, we could have sued the doctor. My dad wanted to. Even I wanted to for a brief moment. I believe we had a case. But the thing was that my mother was sick anyway. She probably didn’t have to die when she did, but her time was fast approaching. In the end, we made the decision NOT to sue, because “that’s what she would have wanted”. We put OUR feelings aside and figured that she loved that doctor, that he helped her a lot, and she was not a revenge kind of person. But you know what? You are absolutely correct. We cannot know for sure. Maybe she had some immediate plans that were destroyed and she would have liked to sue.

      Do you not think that Jasper knows you well? Can he not predict your choices and thoughts?

      EVERYTHING becomes a race type of case. Or a gender one. Or a sexual preference one. Or a religious one. Zzzz

      Like

      1. That’s a heavy story about your mum. If you ever ready, I’d like to hear more about it.

        Yes, I think Jasper does know me well enough.
        He knows I am FULL of grudge. And that I don’t forgive easily, if ever.
        Especially those have mentally hurt me, I’d like to see them burn in hell.

        And before anyone starts telling me that it is an unhealthy way to live and I should let it go, I am not paying too much attention to it and I am not obsessing over doing anything to those people.
        I don’t have the energy. And watching Netflix is more interesting.

        But if they would ask me in court to forgive them, I wouldn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve tried opening someone else’s car and I’ve tried to get into ‘my’ apartment on the wrong floor and ‘my’ hotel room too.
    I can see all too easily how that happens however I haven’t killed anyone and I am lucky in hindsight that I wasn’t attacked/killed etc.
    I saw the hug and thought it was wonderful. I don’t know enough of the story to give a comment on her actions but I thing the brothers compassion was incredible. I don’t think compassion is ever wasted but – I do think compassion includes a measure of education as well as forgiveness. I hope she learns from this, I certainly think my eyes were opened by the purity of his gesture and words

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, yup and yup. Been there, done that. And my hair is not blond.

      Wonderfully said. I agree.

      Taking a human life cannot be an easy thing to handle. The victim’s brother did his part. People often struggle when they cannot obtain forgiveness from others. She has that. However, it is up to her what she will do with it. It might lead her towards salvation, or it might break her. Thinking that she killed his brother and yet he still forgave her, might make her think that she is even less worthy of living. I’d fear for suicide.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I watched the YouTube on the brother hugging. It made me cry… the whole thing makes me sad.

    Honestly I dont think there is ever an excuse to shoot if you aren’t in danger. Intruder doesn’t equal danger. Even if it were her own house. She could’ve gone out and called the police. I’m not blaming her. I’m sad for her. Imagine living with it? I couldn’t. I love his brother and what you said about the judge. Sad for the world. It just all is so so sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a thoughtful post! It made me terrified to realize how accidental incidents can end up human’s life for no reason. It’s terrifying as well to realize how accidental mistakes can dramatically change someone’s life. So sad and so true at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

            1. True. I agree with you that your response needs to be appropriate in size. However, I know how easy it is to lose your rational brain in highly stressful situations. I don’t know what I would do if I felt immediate threat on my life.

              Like

  10. Hm. This case… I live with a retired cop and I was raised in LE. He is not impressed with her. He had a 30+ year career in local police, was a deputy and then state LE. He unholstered his weapon only three times, pointed it once and only fired it, twice…once, strictly up in the air. His response: “That shouldn’t have happened. She has no business in LE.” The better part of being a good cop is INVESTIGATING. She feared for her life? I’m pretty sure he did, too. These days, cops are more likely to shoot first and, then, ask questions, later…sometimes, never. Ken is appalled at much of what he sees in LE, today.

    The judge…Ken’s stepfather was a federal prosecutor, appointed by Kennedy, then LBJ. A judge hugging a defendant? That smacks of bias. They are supposed to be impartial and un-moved. They can go home, have a drink and cry if necessary but, openly hugging a defendant convicted of murder? I hope she is disbarred, honestly. That is pure dereliction of duty. Providing a gift (the Bible) makes it that much more astonishing…not because of religious reasons but, because the judge is providing a gift after sentencing. Really?

    The brother…that is a strong character. Lends credence to the fact that he came from a good family. I suspect his deceased brother was a good man, as well. To forgive a trigger-happy cop (male or female) is the mark of a stellar individual.

    The cop…she will be lucky if she doesn’t get shanked in prison. She will be lucky if she isn’t shot on the street after she is released from prison…if she is released from prison. She has a long, hard road in front of her.

    I am damn curious about the shooting death of the prosecution’s main witness.

    I’ve never in my life gone to the wrong vehicle. I’ve forgotten where I’ve parked, before, in a large lot (especially a dirt lot with no markings). I’ve never gone to the wrong apartment (my own), the wrong house (my own) or the wrong hotel/motel room. I have gotten lost looking for someone else’s apartment, house or hotel/motel room.

    My four cents, adjusted for inflation…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Is firing into the air not outlawed? What goes up must come down.

      That’s true. It sounds like she didn’t follow her training all too well. No wonder she was fired before the sentencing.

      How is a hug AFTER the verdict a form of bias? Are you thinking of the appeals, etc?

      I guess I don’t see it as any sort of breach is because she did her job. And she hugged BACK. The ex-cop extended her hands first. So she was just a fellow human being.

      Most definitely. I also wouldn’t be surprised if she committed suicide.

      I have not heard of the main witness. Are you thinking about the lover of the defendant? Did he take care of business? But why would it matter. What could be WORSE than shooting someone in their apartment?

      You are awesome for never having mistaken a car, apartment, or a hotel room for your own. You are in the minority, apparently.

      Like

      1. Firing into the air? It wasn’t unlawful back in the 70s when he was a street cop here in NC. Has that law changed? IDK. It’s also possible something like that is determined by each state.

        Well…if her “training” included shooting on sight or use of force is necessary no matter what…then, she “followed her training”. That is one of the complaints Ken has…they are clearly not trained to THINK.

        NO judge should hug defendants (or give gifts), regardless of their “feelings”. That is not what judges are there for. They are there to hear both sides, assist juries and render punishment, if necessary, by precedent law…or set aside precedent law, if necessary or, in some cases, set aside jury verdicts (I’ve seen that happen). Ethics DEMANDS that they show impartiality in all aspects of their duties. She did NOT..on two counts. If she is not reprimanded or fired (removed from office), jurisprudence will suffer. Doing your job as a judge does not include hugging defendants…or attorneys…or jurors…or the public…not with that black robe on. On the street, on your own time, hug whomever you wish. She may not get reelected for this. I wouldn’t vote for her.

        I was talking about Joshua Brown:
        https://www.cbsnews.com/news/joshua-brown-dead-witness-in-trial-of-amber-guyger-ex-dallas-police-officer-shot-to-death-2019-10-05/
        Turns out, it was drug related.

        I wouldn’t call me awesome for knowing my vehicle, my house or my apartment. I’m just being me and I’m hardly extraordinary.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Maybe it’s not against the law, but it definitely isn’t recommended.

          Wow. You really hold very firm opinions about her and her actions. Punishing someone for doing nothing wrong. No good deed goes unpunished, huh? It was AFTER the final verdict.

          Thanks for the link. Why did he move from that apartment complex? Weird.

          Like

          1. Oh. Yeah. Not recommended. But, in Ken’s case, he had a runner & it was a warning shot to stop. It was back in the early 70s.

            My opinion of her actions is strictly related to her job, not her humanity or her, personally. I don’t know the woman. Two completely different things. Don’t confuse the two or blend them together. And, yes…she DID do something wrong. Why do you think there is such an uproar about it? It ain’t all about the Bible part, either (the religious knee jerk part, I don’t care about one way or another). She, hugging a defendant that was convicted of murder while still conducting her “supposed” impartiality? OMG. Talk about a slap in the face to the family of the victim. And, a gift on top of it, right there in front of the jury?

            I understand wanting to show & feel compassion. I don’t believe the cop intentionally murdered a black man in his apartment. This was a bad situation all the way around. But, what we have here is, basically, a woman who had no business being a cop and a woman who has no business being a judge. If the judge wanted to hug her, give her a bible and make her feel better, LEAVE THE COURTROOM. That judge could have easily visited her in prison, brought her coffee and donuts, gave her that bible, held her hands, prayed with her… That would have been a better story than shirking her duties on the job. In all the years I’ve been alive, I’ve NEVER heard or seen a judge hug a defendant that had been found guilty. Hell. I’ve never seen or heard of a judge hugging a defendant that was found NOT guilty. It is improper as hell. Do you think one of our Supreme Court Justices is gonna roll out of their leather chair to come hug a defendant seeking higher court redress of a lower court ruling? I don’t f****** think so. You don’t do that with your black robes on and a gavel in your hand. This is an ethics issue…strictly.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. But why does it matter if the jury was done? The case was over.

              But I see the benefit of doing what she did elsewhere at a later time. But that would require taking time out of her busy schedule, etc.

              Yes, there have been previous cases of this happening. Just maybe not that high-profile.

              What do you think she is influencing? Her job was done. She was no longer on the job per se.

              Like

  11. The court of law is just that. Is what she did lawful or unlawful? Morals do not play a part in the courtroom. Killing a person is unlawful. It was a Shakespearian ‘comedy of errors’ with no premeditation or intent on her part. The judgment was just.

    What gets my goat is the uneven application of justice. If the black man had walked into her apartment by mistake and she’d killed him, it would have been justifiable homicide. Now turn it around. If the black man, seeing this white woman come into his home, had killed her, he would have gotten the lethal injection AND 100 years in jail. Had he walked into what he thought was his apartment and seen her and shot her, he’d be lynched before he got to trial. This same judgment under the same circumstances is not applied. The law is skewed by the moral intent of the parties involved.

    The morals of the relative of the victim came into play after sentencing. What would happen if the judges cried and hugged everyone they sentenced? “I know you are a better person than that. If you read this and don’t find the answers you need, keep seeking.” The morals of the people involved determine their actions in the case of crimes against society.

    The bias of the judge does not apply because it was after the trial and the sentencing. The morals of the cop did not come into play; that was training (or lack of it.) I watch these police shows where the FBI bursts into the room guns out and screaming “Drop your weapons get down on the floor!” at the same time as the under-cover cops who are doing the exact same thing. The adrenaline is running high and no one is listening. One misfire could end up costing a room-full of LE personnel their lives. It looks like, to me, that there needs to be a change in training. If she’d taken the time to be aware of her surroundings and realized this black man had replaced all her furniture, redecorated, and gotten a different type of ice cream than she had in her freezer, she might not have shot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What WOULD happen if the judges cried and hugged everyone they sentenced? Some cases are less emotional than others. That’s a rather personal thing. Some things move me, but not you. Others move you, but not me.

      Like you said – it was AFTER the trial was done and over with. So she was not a judge, but a fellow human being talking not to a prisoner, but to another human being.

      You made me chuckle with your closing lines. But yes, it definitely seems like her cop training wasn’t put into action, or was faulty.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Compassion is good. So is justice. The sentence was a slap in the face for every minority in the US that received a stiffer sentence for a lesser crime. I appreciate the love the family showed; I believe they would’ve been the same if the sentence had been fair. As for the judge, her behaviour was inappropriate. In my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think there should be distance between the bench and the people before it. I think, if she wanted to share something like her bible in an environment that is supposed to be secular, she could have arranged to have it delivered to her. I think she meant well, I just think it was inappropriate.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I watched this on the news when it happened and it brought me to tears. I think this world needs more compassion and I applaud the actions of the brother and the judge. Haters be haters and they will always find something to complain about. Too bad we can’t all look for the good and positive in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Excellent piece as always. It’s amazing how context is so important to understanding everyone’s situation. Someone who firmly believes what they see without thinking twice is bound to run into some surprises, e.g. not realizing he’s in the wrong building! However, the whole bible show by the judge is a bit of a stretch for me. While I think emotions are important in our reasoning sometimes, I think it’s important to stick with facts and universal virtues (yes, most religions value these virtues).

    Liked by 1 person

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Rachael Ritchey

Worlds of Fiction

from famine to feast

recovery and growth, things that interest me, occasional deep-thoughts, and semi-regular poetry

Skeptical Heartism

Views from a skeptical heart

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