Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer convicted of killing her unarmed black neighbor, Botham Jean after mistaking his apartment for her own, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, NPR reports.
Guyger, 31, fatally shot Jean, a 26-year-old accountant from St. Lucia, as he ate ice cream while watching television after entering his apartment. Guyger said she thought she had entered her apartment and Jean was an intruder.
Prosecutors recommended that Jean serve 28 years, though she faced up to life in prison.
The sentence came after the same jury found Guyger guilty of murder on Tuesday.
Guyger testified that she parked on the fourth floor, one floor above her apartment, and approached Jean’s door, which she thought was her own. She said she opened the door, which she said was ajar, and saw a silhouette of a man she believed to be an intruder and opened fire.
Prosecutors said Guyger, a trained police officer, should have noticed at numerous cues that it was not her apartment, like Jean’s bright red doormat. Prosecutors also said her training should have required her to seek cover and call for backup.
During the trial, prosecutors showed text messages Guyger sent disparaging Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade marchers.
"Just push them...or spray with your pepper spray in that general area," she texted.
Guyger argued that she shot Jean in self-defense.
"The jurors had to believe that what she did was reasonable, and the actions of the jurors were pretty clear with their message and the speed at which it was delivered," former Dallas judge Tim Power told NPR. "They believed the zone of reasonableness had been violated and that she was way outside that zone."
Jean’s bother, judge hug Guyger:
Brandt Jean, Botham Jean's brother, said on the witness stand that he was ready to forgive Guyger, citing his Christian faith.
"If you truly are sorry," Jean said. "I know I can speak for myself, I forgive you."
"I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want for you," he told her. "I love you as a person, and I don't wish anything bad on you."
He said he did not even want Guyger to go to prison.
"Can I give her a hug, please?" Brandt asked. "Please."
Guyger hesitated at first but then embraced Jean.
Judge Tammy Kemp embraced every member of the Jean family before walking over to the defense table where Guyger sat and told her to read the bible. Guyger jumped up to hug Kemp, who hugged her back.
“Ma’am, it’s not because I am good. It’s because I believe in Christ. None of us are worthy,” Kemp said. “Forgive yourself.”
Protesters decry sentence:
District Attorney John Creuzot said that he expected a longer sentence, The Dallas Morning News reports.
"Over 37 years, I have seen so many cases," he said. "I have long stopped trying to guess what a jury would do, and I have learned to accept their judgment."
Protesters took to the streets after the sentence was handed down.
“What justice did today was slap us back in the face with levels of injustice,” said activist Dominique Alexander.
“The protesters called for wholesale changes at the Dallas Police Department and for firing Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata,” The Dallas News reported. “At a news conference Wednesday evening, Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall said parts of the trial had concerned her. Although she did not mention Mata by name, she described testimony that he had tampered with an in-car video camera after Guyger was placed in the vehicle. Hall also said she planned for internal affairs to investigate Officer Martin Rivera, Guyger’s former police partner, who deleted texts with Guyger that outlined their sexual relationship.”