The brother of a black man shot dead in his apartment by a white female cop has stunned a courtroom with an extraordinary act of mercy.
While there were boos over the 10-year prison sentence for a white Dallas cop who killed a black neighbour in his apartment, the courtroom was also rocked by an extraordinary act of mercy by the victim’s brother.
Yesterday, a jury convicted Amber Guyger of murder in the September 2018 killing of Botham Jean.
Today, she was handed a 10-year sentence for the killing which took place when she claims to have been “distracted” by sexual texts and mistaken the victim’s apartment for own unit one floor below.
She didn’t appear to show a strong reaction, at least from the angle of a live camera stream, as the judge read the jury’s sentence — which was met with boos and jeers by a crowd gathered outside the court.
However, inside the courtroom, there was an incredible moment when Mr Jean’s brother Brandt asked the judge if he could hug Guyger.
“I speak for myself, I forgive you and I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you,” he said. “I love you just like anyone else. I’m not going to say I hope you rot and die.”
He said he didn’t even want Guyger to go to jail.
“I want the best for you because that’s what Botham would want you to do,” he said.
Footage from the courtroom then shows him begging the judge to let him hug Guyger, and she agrees to let him do it.
Wow I've never seen this before at a sentencing hearing:
Botham Jean's brother asked the judge if he can hug Amber Guyger after a jury sentenced her to 10 years in state prison for killing his brother.
The pair then embrace each other, and loud sobbing can be heard in the courtroom. Guyger can also be seen whispering in his ear.
Despite the touching moment there was palpable anger over the sentence among some in the crowd who had gathered outside the court.
“It’s a slap in the face,” one woman said.
As Jean’s family walked out of the courtroom, the group that had been outside began a chant of, “No justice! No peace!” Two young black women hugged each other and cried.
Prosecutors had asked jurors to sentence Guyger to at least 28 years, which is how old Jean would have been if he was still alive.
The jury could have sentenced the former officer to up to life in prison or as little as two years.
The basic facts of the unusual shooting were not in dispute throughout the trial. Guyger, returning from a long shift that night, entered Jean’s fourth-floor apartment and shot him. He had been eating a bowl of ice cream before she fired.
Guyger said she parked on the wrong floor and mistook Jean’s apartment for her own, which was directly below his, and mistook him for a burglar. In the frantic 911 call played repeatedly during the trial, Guyger said “I thought it was my apartment” nearly 20 times. Her lawyers argued that the identical physical appearance of the apartment complex from floor to floor frequently led to tenants going to the wrong apartments.
But prosecutors questioned how Guyger could have missed numerous signs that she was in the wrong place.
They also asked why she didn’t call for backup instead of walking into the apartment if she thought she was being burglarised and suggested she was distracted by sexually explicit phone messages she had been exchanging with her police partner, who was also her lover.
The shooting drew widespread attention because of the strange circumstances and because it was one in a string of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers.
One of the Jean family lawyers hailed the verdict as “a victory for black people in America” after it was handed down on Tuesday.
The jury was largely made up of women and people of colour.