DALLAS (AP) — A white Dallas police officer who said she mistook a neighbour’s apartment for her own and fatally shot him in his living room was sentenced to a decade in prison in a stunning courtroom scene that included the dead man’s brother and the black judge embracing the sobbing officer.
People outside of the courtroom reacted angrily to the sentence given to Amber Guyger in the death of Botham Jean, believing it was too lenient. But Jean’s brother addressed her directly from the witness stand.
“I love you as a person. I don’t wish anything bad on you,” he said to the 31-year-old Guyger, before asking the judge, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug?”
The judge said he could, and Brandt and Guyger stood up, met in front of the bench and embraced while Guyger cried. Judge Tammy Kemp also hugged Guyger before she was led from the courtroom on Wednesday.
The shooting in September 2018 drew widespread attention because of the strange circumstances and because it was one in a string of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers.
Guyger, who was arrested three days after the shooting and later fired, was convicted of murder on Tuesday.
The jury, which was largely made up of women and people of colour, could have sentenced her to up to life in prison or as little as two years.
But prosecutors asked them to send her to prison for 28 years, which is how old Botham Jean would have been if he were still alive.
She will be eligible for parole in five years, after serving half of her sentence.