Inside the courtroom, many observers cried as Botham Jean’s brother forgave and hugged former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who had been convicted of murder in Jean’s death. Outside, protesters denounced the 10-year sentence Guyger got as too lenient.
The conclusion of the trial mirrored the gamut of emotions displayed during the week-long proceedings, with Jean’s parents taking the stand with poignant testimony about their son, Guyger saying she wished she were the one who was shot and prosecutors describing the former cop as negligent in missing myriad signs that would have tipped her off that she was on the wrong floor, in the wrong apartment.
Jurors convicted Guyger on Tuesday for murder in the fatal shooting of Jean. Wednesday, after hours of moving victim impact statements, the same panel sentenced her to 10 years in prison. She’ll be eligible for parole in five years.
After the conclusion of a case that has become part of the national conversation around policing and violence against people of color, a group demonstrated in the streets of Dallas against a sentence they saw as too light.
NAACP President Aubrey Hooper said in a statement that the organization saw the sentence as inadequate, but prayed that Jean’s family could find some closure with the conviction.
The trial brought several moments of pain before the powerful example of forgiveness. A video of Jean’s final moments, as first responders worked to revive him from gunshot wounds, was shown while his family was in the courtroom. They left sobbing, and Judge Tammy Kemp said she hadn’t considered the hurt it would cause his loved ones.
Then, Guyger took the stand to describe through tears the night she said she entered Jean’s apartment thinking it was her own and shot the man she thought was an intruder. She said she wished she had been the one killed instead.