Man murdered by Dallas police officer would not have wanted ‘harsh vengeance’

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Two jurors who convicted a police officer of murdering her black neighbour said they had the victim in mind when they settled on a prison sentence of 10 years.

Prosecutors had asked jurors to sentence Amber Guyger to 28 years, which was how old her neighbour Botham Jean would have been if he was still alive.

Guyger said she mistook Mr Jean’s apartment for her own and fatally shot him in his living room in September 2018.

“We all agree that (the shooting) was a mistake, and I don’t think Bo would want to take harsh vengeance,” the juror said, referring to Jean by his nickname.

“I think he would want to forgive her.”

Dallas Officer Mistaken Apartment
Fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger (Tom Fox/AP)

When the jury’s 10-year sentence was handed down on Wednesday, a crowd outside the courtroom reacted angrily, believing it was too short.

The other juror who spoke to ABC News – a black woman – said her reaction when hearing prosecutors’ sentencing request was “I can’t give her 28 years”.

“I know a lot of people are not happy about the 10 years,” she said. “But I felt like… this case was not like any other case.”

She drew distinctions between the death of Mr Jean and those of other unarmed black men who have been killed by police in recent years.

“Those officers that killed unarmed black men, when they got out, they went back to living their lives,” she said.

“Amber Guyger, ever since she killed that man, she has not been the same. She showed remorse and that she’s going to have to deal with that for the rest of her life.”

On Friday, the Jean family stood with Dallas activists and religious leaders asking the US Department of Justice to conduct a broad probe of the Dallas Police Department.

Dallas Officer Mistaken Apartment
Botham Jean’s son Brandt Jean (Tom Fox/AP)

He called on police Chief Renee Hall to invite the Justice Department to do a “comprehensive audit” of her police force.

Guyger was transferred into the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on Friday, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department said.

During the sentencing, Mr Jean’s brother addressed Guyger directly from the witness stand.

Brandt Jean told her that his brother would have wanted her to turn her life over to Christ, and that if she can ask God for forgiveness, she will get it.

“I love you as a person. I don’t wish anything bad on you,” he said to the 31-year-old Guyger, before adding, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug?”

Dallas Officer Mistaken Apartment
Amber Guyger shot her black unarmed neighbour Botham Jean to death (AP)

Judge Tammy Kemp also hugged Guyger before she was led from the courtroom.

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, a former trial judge, called Brandt Jean’s embrace of Guyger “an amazing act of healing and forgiveness that is rare in today’s society … especially for many of our leaders”.

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