UNITED STATES—Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the fatal shooting of Botham Jean, 28, an unarmed man, who was sitting on his couch inside his apartment back in 2018.
Guyger initially faced between 5 and 99 years or life in prison. The jury rejected a “sudden passion” defense that could have given Guyger a reduced sentence ranging from 2 to 20 years. She will be eligible for parole in 5 years.
Jean’s younger brother Brandt Jean, 18, asked the judge if he could give Guyger a hug after giving a statement of forgiveness.
“If you truly are sorry, I know I can speak for myself I forgive you,” said Jean. He continued, “I’m not going to say I hope you rot and die, just like my brother – I personally want what is best for you. I wasn’t going to say this in front of my family or anyone, but I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want what’s best for you, because that’s exactly what Botham would want.”
During the trial, Guyger was in tears as she gave her testimony. She said she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own when she discovered his door slightly open and began shooting thinking there was an intruder in her home. She was off-duty at the time of the incident, but still in uniform when she shot Jean. Jean was in his living room eating ice cream before she opened fire.
Prosecutors said Guyger missed multiple signs that she was on the wrong floor and confronted Jean with the intent to kill and failed to help him after she shot him. Prosecution asked for no less than 28 years, the same age Jean would have turned on Sunday. Guyger’s legal representation argued that she made “a series of horrible mistakes.”
Prosecutors used Guyger’s social media posts and text messages as evidence to present to the jury. Her social media posts and text messages were used as an indication of her violent character and racial prejudices. In a text she sent to another officer she wrote, “Damn, I was at this area with five different black officers. Not racist but damn.” The text continues with, “Not racist but just have a different way of working and it shows.”
That evening after Guyger’s sentence was announced, protests broke out on the streets of Dallas and outside the courtroom. Protestors believed Guyger’s sentence was too lenient for the crime she committed. Chants from the crowd could be heard, “No justice. No peace; no racist police!” outside the courtroom.
Safiya Paul, 31, a protestor outside the courthouse was arrested by police for a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a roadway. Paul was released on $500 bail on Thursday, October 3. From the beginning of the trial, Paul had come to Dallas to see the trial and danced outside the courthouse the day Guyger was convicted.
The protestors marched down the streets of Dallas for hours. They called for major changes at the Dallas Police Department and for the termination of Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata.