Amber Guyger, a white former Dallas police officer who fatally shot her black neighbor last year after she walked into his apartment mistaking it for her own, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Though the prosecution was pushing for no less than 28 years for Guyger—the age her victim, Botham Jean, would have been had Guyger not killed him while he was sitting in his apartment eating ice cream—the jury felt otherwise, handing her the sentence just one day after finding her guilty of murder.
While some of Jean’s supporters protested the jury’s decision outside the courtroom, the proceedings inside took an entirely unexpected turn when Jean’s 18-year-old brother, Brandt Jean, asked the judge whether he could give Guyger a hug. From NBC:
Addressing Guyger directly, he said, “If you truly are sorry—I know I can speak for myself—I forgive you, and I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you.”
Brandt Jean, who acknowledged that he was not speaking for his family, added: “I personally want the best for you. I wasn’t even going to say this before my family, but I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you, because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want you to do—to give your life to Christ.”
The judge then granted Brandt permission to hug Guyger, and the two embraced for nearly a full minute. Judge Tammy Kemp also hugged Guyger, telling her, “Your sentence will begin today.”
Guyger said following Jean’s death that she feared for her life when she saw Jean in what she thought was her apartment, prompting inquiries about whether she would have reacted the same way if he weren’t black.
During the trial, Guyger confirmed she had intended to kill Jean, though she did admit she could have retreated and radioed a nearby police station for backup instead. That Guyger articulated her intention may have been crucial to the jury’s unanimous guilty verdict, since in Texas, premeditation is not required to convict a person of murder, but a jury must be certain beyond a reasonable doubt that a person meant to kill their victim.
The prosecution also presented a number of disturbing text messages attributed to Guyger, which included, among other things, disparaging remarks she made about attendees of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade she was working, writing,“Just push them...or spray with your pepper spray in that general area.”