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  • Fromer officer Amber Guyger appears in a booking photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office, September 10, 2018.

    Fromer officer Amber Guyger appears in a booking photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office, September 10, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 October 2019

“No justice, no peace!” and “This is so wrong!” shouted protesters outside the courthouse.

Amber Guyger, the 31-year-old former Dallas police officer, was found guilty Wednesday by a Texas jury and sentenced to 10 years in prison after she walked into a black neighbor’s home thinking it was hers and shot him dead while he was eating ice cream.

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The sentence was less than the 28 years requested by the prosecutors and the jury imposed no fine.

"Of course that's inadequate. The entire justice system is inadequate and the work must continue," S. Lee Merritt, a lawyer representing the victim’s said on Twitter.

The jury came to its sentence Tuesday in less than six hours, convicting Guyger, who is white, in the 2018 killing of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black PwC accountant. 

The killing had set-off outrage and street protests, especially since prosecutors initially decided to bring the lesser charge of manslaughter against Guyger.

The case was different from other recent high-profile killings, such as those of Michael Brown in Missouri and Philando Castile in Minnesota, since Guyger was not on duty or responding to a reported crime when she killed Jean.

The last day of the case hearing also included a uncommon moment in which the victim’s younger brother warmly offered his pardon to the perpetrator.

 “I forgive you, and I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you. I’m speaking for myself, not my family, but I love you just like anyone else,” Jean’s brother Brandt told Guyger.

Brandt Jean then asked the judge’s permission to hug Guyger and he and Guyger ran to one another and embraced in the middle of the courtroom. They hugged, cried and spoke softly to one another for about a minute.

“No justice, no peace!” and “This is so wrong!” shouted protesters outside the courthouse, where the mood was less forgiving.

With protesters at her side, Botham Jean’s mother, Allison, criticized what she called the poor training of police and called on the city to “clean up” its act.

“Our life must move on, but our life must move on with the change. There’s gotta be a better day, and that better day starts with each and every one of us.”

Guyger, who spent four years on the force before the murder, testified in her own defense during the trial and tearfully expressed regret for shooting Jean but said she had believed her life was in danger when she pulled the trigger.

Prosecutors argued that Guyger did little to help Jean even after realizing her mistake, calling the 911 emergency phone number for an ambulance but not administering first aid.

They also showed the jury several text messages that painted Guyger as racist.

Guyger wrote in one January 2018 message that she would like to use pepper spray on the crowd at a Martin Luther King Jr. parade in Dallas, while in another she wrote that her black police colleagues “just have a different way of working and it shows.”

During the trial, Guyger’s defense attorney said she was “on autopilot” after a long workday when she mistakenly parked on the wrong floor in the garage and was able to enter Jean’s apartment because he had left the door slightly ajar.

“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I have to live with this every single day,” Guyger told the jury.

In cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Jason Hermus asked her, “When you shot him twice, you intended to kill him, didn’t you?”

“I did,” Guyger responded, in a calm voice.

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