The jury took only five hours to decide that Guyger, a white cop who shot her black neighbor Botham Jean, when she mistook his apartment for hers, was guilty of murder. She was the first Dallas police officer to be convicted of murder since the 1970s.
She faced up to 99 years in prison, but the judge in the case, gave her a relatively lenient sentence of 10 years – and then something very unusual happened. The judge in the case caused a stir when — after handing down her sentence — she hugged the convicted killer and handed her a Bible.
While some praised the move as a demonstration of religious faith, others — including former ESPN anchor Jemele Hill — criticized the judge’s action as “unacceptable.”
Guyger, a four-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, had been fired and charged with manslaughter after she entered Botham Jean’s apartment on Sept. 6, 2018, thinking it was her own and shot him twice, killing him. She was indicted on a murder charge two months later.
Following her sentencing on October 2, Judge Tammy Kemp comforted Jean’s family, then briefly spoke with Guyger and left the room. The judge soon returned with a Bible, WFAA-TV of Dallas reported.
“You just need a tiny mustard seed of faith. You start with this,” she said, giving the Bible to Guyger. According to reports, while embracing the convicted cop, the judge told Guyger, “You haven’t done so much that you can’t be forgiven. You did something bad in one moment in time. What you do now matters.”
Kemp and Guyger then embraced. The hug came after an even more unexpected embrace. The brother of the murdered man, made a similar gesture toward Guyger.
The courtroom was brought to tears earlier when Jean’s brother hugged Guyger and said, “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.”
While few found fault with Jean’s brother’s action of extraordinary forgiveness, the judge’s actions were another matter, with several offended by the hug.
Protesters and some on social media decried both the sentencing and Kemp’s embrace of Guyger.
“This judge choosing to hug this woman is unacceptable,” Atlantic columnist Jemele Hill wrote on Twitter. “Keep in mind this convicted murderer is the same one who laughed about Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, and killing ppl on sight.”