Former Dallas Police officer, Amber Guyger, walked into 26-year-old Botham Jean’s apartment and shot him dead. Guyger mistakenly thought it was her apartment and that Jean was an intruder when she pulled the trigger. Guyger was convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years in state prison by the jury that unanimously convicted her of murder.
Protesters outside the Dallas courtroom chanted, “No justice, no peace,” while inside the courtroom, the family of the victim chose another path, one of peace and forgiveness.
Chants of “no justice, no peace” outside the Dallas courtroom where Amber Guyger was just sentenced to 10 years for the murder of Botham Jean.
— Syeda Hasan (@syedareports) October 2, 2019
NPR– “Your sentence will begin today,” Judge Tammy Kemp told Guyger.
Guyger, who is white, fatally shot 26-year-old Botham Jean, an accountant from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, who was watching television and eating a bowl of ice cream last year when Guyger fired two shots, striking him once in the chest.
She could have faced life in prison, but prosecutors asked for a prison sentence of 28 years, a higher penalty than what the jury imposed.
After the punishment was announced, the courtroom scene took a surprising turn.
Brandt Jean, Botham Jean’s brother, stepped to the witness stand to deliver a victim-impact statement and offered forgiveness, citing his Christian faith.
“I love you as a person, and I don’t wish anything bad on you,” Brandt Jean said before making an unusual request.
“I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug please?”
The judge shocked the courtroom by agreeing, and the two embraced in a dramatic and emotional spectacle, as sobs rang out.
Even the judge herself went to the defense table and spoke with Guyger for a few minutes, giving her a Bible and a hug.
Allison Jean, Botham Jean’s mother, testified that her son, the middle child, was “the glue” that united her three children. He excelled at math, was a dedicated Christian and loved rugby and choir singing. Friends and family called him “Bo.” He was killed a few days before his 27th birthday.
“My life has not been the same. It’s just been a roller coaster. I cannot sleep. I cannot eat,” Allison Jean told the jury. “It’s just been the most terrible time for me.”
Between sobs, Bertrum Jean, Botham Jean’s father, told jurors on Wednesday that the killing of his son has left his family shattered.
Guyger testified in the trial that after parking her pickup truck on the fourth floor, one level above her apartment, she approached what she says she thought was her own unit. She noticed the door was ajar and drew her service weapon.
When she opened the door and saw Jean, she told the jury, she shot to kill, fearing for her life after seeing the silhouette of a man she mistook for an intruder. Prosecutors have underscored the various cues Guyger missed on her way to Jean’s apartment, including a bright red doormat that sat outside Jean’s apartment.
Prosecutors have said that Guyger’s police training should have guided her to seek cover and call for backup if she thought she was in danger, but her legal team said a series of “innocent mistakes” led to an “awful and tragic” outcome.