Guyger, who is white, shot and killed unarmed 26-year-old Botham Jean, who was black,in his own apartment. She said she mistook Jean’s apartment as her own and thought he was a burglar. Guyger lived one floor directly below Jean. She was off duty, but still in her uniform when she shot Jean.
After the jury handed down a conviction Tuesday, the court turned to the punishment phase of the hearing. The jury heard from character witnesses for Jean and Guyger, with both parties' parents speaking to the jury.
Prosecutors also showed jurors offensive text messages from Guyger where she said she was racist and made discriminatory comments against black officers at the Dallas Police Department.
In a closing statement, a Dallas County prosecutor asked the jury to hand down a sentence of no less than 28 years, symbolic for how old Jean would have become days ago. In Texas, a murder conviction can result in a sentence ranging from five years to life in prison.
Before they entered into deliberations, Judge Tammy Kemp told jurors that they could also consider if Guyger killed Jean in a "sudden passion" that arose out of provocation, according to WFAA. In Texas, if the jury accepted that argument, the sentence range drops from two to 20 years. The jury rejected the sudden passion defense.
After the sentence was announced, a small crowd gathered in the foyer outside the courtroom, yelling and crying in frustration over what they said was too short of a sentence, as shown by a WFAA livestream.
"No justice, no peace," they chanted.
But inside the courtroom, Jean's 18-year-old brother, Brandt, told Guyger in a victim's impact statement that the forgave her and that he loved her like anyone else.
"I don't want to say twice or for the hundredth time how much you’ve taken from us. I think you know that," he started. "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."
Brandt said the best thing for Guyger to do would be the give her life to Christ. He then turned to the judge and asked an unusual question.
"I don't know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug please?"
Guyger and Jean met in the middle of the courtroom and embraced hard, crying. Sobs could be heard from the gallery.
Afterward, Kemp descended from the bench to talk to and hug both Jean's family and, later, Guyger herself.
Guyger's murder conviction is the third for Dallas area police officers in the last two years. All involved shootings of unarmed people of color. Former Balch Springs officer Roy Oliver, who is white, was sentenced to 15 years last year in the on-duty shooting death of a black 15-year-old, Jordan Edwards. In January 2018, Ken Johnson, a black officer in Farmers Branch, got a 10-year sentence for chasing and fatally shooting 16-year-old Jose Cruz.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/10/02/amber-guyger-sentencing-former-dallas-officer-gets-10-years-prison/.
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