Relatives of a Dallas police officer who fatally shot her Black neighbor say they aren’t racist, despite recent photos internet sleuths say prove otherwise.
The accusations came amid social media chatter over three photos of Officer Amber Guyger and her family that critics say show them flashing “white power” hand signs, The Dallas Morning News reported. Guyger, who’s white, is currently facing manslaughter charges for shooting and killing Botham Jean, 26, late on the evening of Sept. 6 inside his apartment after she claims she mistook it for her own.
She fired twice into the unit, striking Jean, only to realize later that she was in the wrong apartment, she said. Critics have raised questions about the validity of her account of the shooting, however, which continues to change.
Guyger’s brother-in-law has since come forward to defend the family after social media critics decried a photo of him making questionable hand gestures.
“None of these are racist photos,” said Noe Garza, 43. “I am not racist.”
Speaking to The Dallas Morning News, Garza explained that his side of the family is Mexican and that the symbols in the pictures were meant to be silly and fun.
“I don’t care about your nationality,” he said. “I don’t care about the color of your skin. We all bleed red.”
The photo in question shows Garza, who is married to Guyger’s sister, posing alongside a group of friends at Joe’s Crab Shack in 2016. He’s seen making hand gestures, which some say resemble the “white power” signs used by white supremacists.
Garza insisted he wasn’t throwing up “gang” signs, but was making a “6” and a “9” to symbolize his father-in-law’s age.
“It’s was his 69th birthday, so it was a 69,” Garza told the newspaper, noting the family was out celebrating at the time.
The Anti-Defamation League viewed the photo and said that while Garza’s gestures resemble the “peckerwood” and “white power” hand signs associated with white nationalists, they “don’t exactly match any in the ADL’s database,” according to the newspaper.
A separate photo shows Garza making gestures yet again, this time making an “L” and a “W” with his hands. The former chef explained the picture was taken when he and friends went to see their favorite band, Lagwagon, perform years ago.
A third photo also surfaced of Guyger posing with her mother, who’s seen sporting an “All Lives Matter” T-shirt. Alana Guyger, Garza’s wife, explained that the shirt was a gift after the July 2016 ambush in downtown Dallas that killed five police officers. However, many view the slogan as a slight to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“[I hate] the fact that I have to prove I’m not racist,” Garza told the newspaper.
Activists are now pushing for Guyger to face more serious charges in Jean’s killing.