Failed Situation Awareness

CRJS 4301 – Ethics in Law Enforcement – Moral Theories 

Written: September 11, 2018 

Article Critique

     It is known that to be a successful police officer one must understand that making sound decision is a critical component to the process. However, on Thursday, September 06, 2018 at about 9:59pm in Dallas, TX, an off-duty officer, still in uniform, walked into the wrong apartment, thinking it was hers, and shot the resident whom she believed had broken into her home. The resident was killed by the gunshot wound to the chest and died at the hospital. The Dallas Police officer called 911 from her cell phone and when asked where she was, she went to look at the number on the front of the apartment door and realized she was not in her home. The DP officer performed CPR on the victim until emergency respondents arrived.

The day after the shooting occurred the Police Chief U. Renee Hall alerted the public that the Dallas Police Department were going to be seeking manslaughter charges against the off-duty officer. The Police Chief also informed the public that they were turning the case over to the Texas Rangers to have a full and transparent investigation in the incident. The officer was officially arrested and released on bail on Saturday, September 10, 2018.

It is an unfortunate and tragic situation for all involved. The officer had just gotten off a thirteen-hour shift and was obviously tired. She stated that when she tried to use her key to enter the apartment, the door had opened because it was partially opened. When she stepped inside, it was completely dark, she saw a shadowy figure, gave verbal commands and shot two times, after her commands were ignored.

Now, on the flip side of the coin, the resident would not be expecting a uniform officer in his home and if she could not see him, then chances are that he could not see her either. One of the issues here is that officers are trained in situation awareness and that was truly lacking in this situation.

If we look at one of the moral theories, we will see that absolutism fits this scenario and that would be that killing a non-threatening innocent is always wrong. No matter the intentions or the situation, murder is murder, even in the case of mistaken identity. But, if we look at it from the point of view of relativism, we can see that killing a person, in the line of duty, changes the definition of murder. If you are acting in self-defense, then shooting to kill would be warranted. Because relativism proposes that there are no moral absolutes and that morality changes over time and is often a cultural phenomenon.

In this case, considering that the medical examiner labeled the shooting as a homicide, it is fair to say that some charges will be brought against the off-duty officer once the Texas Rangers are done with their investigation.


Cardona, C. Z. (2018, September 10). Dallas officer Amber Guyger charged with manslaughter for shooting Botham Jean at his apartment. Retrieved from

Dallas officer Amber Guyger charged with manslaughter for shooting Botham Jean at his apartment

Miles, F. (2018, September 10). Arrest affidavit of Dallas police officer who killed neighbor sheds light on controversy. Retrieved from

Arrest affidavit of Dallas police officer who killed neighbor sheds light on controversy

The above is an article critique I had written for my Criminal Justice class. Just thought I would share it.

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