Stand Your Ground. Unless You're Black.

[Content Note: Guns; death; racism; death penalty.]

At 5:30 in the morning on May 9 of this year, four men attempted to come through the windows in Marvin Louis Guy's home in Killeen, Texas. Thinking he was protecting himself and his wife from intruders, Guy opened fire, killing one of the men and injuring the other three.

Despite the fact that Texas has a Stand Your Ground law, as well as a Castle Doctrine law that includes one's home, vehicle, and place of business or employment, Guy has been indicted by a grand jury, charged with one count of capital murder and three counts of attempted capital murder, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.

Why? Because:

1. The men breaching Guy's home were officers with the Killeen Police Department's Tactical Response Unit and the Bell County Organized Crime Unit, who were attempting to serve a "no-knock" narcotics search warrant.

2. Guy is black.

One might believe that anyone who shot police officers entering their residence—even on a "no-knock" warrant, where police officers are not required to alert a resident to their presence or announce themselves as police officers—would be indicted, but let me introduce you to Henry Goedrich Magee, a white Texan who shot and killed an officer who entered his home on a no-knock marijuana raid, and who was not indicted by a grand jury.


At the Free Thought Project, Cassandra Rules notes the marked difference between the photos of Magee and Guy used in the press:

left: an image of a young white man playing with his young white daughter; right: an image of a black man in a mugshot
On the left: The unindicted Magee. On the right: The indicted Guy.

I have said many, many, many, many, many times that Stand Your Ground laws are dangerous for marginalized people because they are not equally applied; because they are used to allow white men to kill marginalized people with impunity and to allow prosecutors to ignore the law to prosecute marginalized people who defend themselves. And I'm hardly the only person making that point, over and over and over.

This is the problem, right here: The same law that one grand jury used to justify a white man's killing of a police officer serving a "no-knock" warrant has been ignored by another grand jury to criminalized a black man's killing of a police officer serving a "no-knock" warrant.

Both men were equally justified under the law. But only one of them was indicted. Only one of them faces trial, and possibly the death penalty.

Meanwhile, two police officers are dead because we live in a country in which people have a right to kill someone trying to enter their homes, and in which police have a right to enter people's homes without knocking or identifying themselves. Does this combination not seem like a bad idea to anyone else?

[Sources: KHD News; The Free Thought Project; Black Youth Project. H/T to Shaker JS.]

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