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'I forgive you': Emotional scenes as ex-Dallas cop sentenced to 10 years' jail for murder

'I forgive you': Emotional scenes as ex-Dallas cop sentenced to 10 years' jail for murder

Botham Jean's younger brother Brandt Jean hugs former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger after delivering his impact statement at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Texas, on Oct 2, 2019. (Photo: Tom Fox/Pool via Reuters)

WASHINGTON: Former Dallas policewoman Amber Guyger was locked in an embrace that lasted nearly a minute on Wednesday (Oct 2) with Brandt Jean, whose brother Guyger had been convicted of murdering. 

The emotional scene capped the trial of 31-year-old Guyger, who shot her neighbour in 2018 after entering the wrong apartment. 

Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Wednesday for the murder of Botham Jean, 26, who worked for an accounting firm.

Amber Guyger hugs Judge Tammy Kemp after she had given her a bible. (Photo: Tom Fox/Pool via Reuters)

On the night of the shooting, Guyger was still wearing her police uniform after a nearly 14-hour shift.

Jean, who was unarmed, was sitting on the couch in his apartment, number 1478, eating ice cream. Guyger lived in 1378.

Guyger, who is white, had claimed she thought Jean, who was black, was an intruder in her own apartment.

After the sentence was handed down, Jean's younger brother Brandt, offered Guyger his forgiveness.

"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," Brandt Jean told Guyger. 

He then asked the judge's permission to hug Guyger.

"I don't know if this is possible but can I give her a hug please?" Brandt Jean asked Judge Tammy Kemp. The judge hesitated but said yes after Brandt Jean repeated his plea.

Members of Botham Jean's family rejoice in the courtroom after former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was found guilty of murder. (Photo: Tom Fox/Pool via Reuters)

The two then embraced for nearly a minute in the well of the courtroom as Guyger sobbed loudly and a court bailiff looked on sombrely.

After consoling relatives of Brandt's, Judge Tammy Kemp also embraced Guyger before she was escorted out of the courtroom.

Guyger's lawyer had told the court his client had made a "tragic mistake", but that she was not "evil".

"I ask God for forgiveness, and I hate myself every single day," Guyger said during the trial, which began in September.

"I never wanted to take an innocent person's life," she said.

“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I have to live with this every single day,” Guyger told the jury of eight women and four men.

Brandt and Botham Jean's mother, Allison Jean, said she was surprised by her son's gesture of forgiveness.

Brandt Jean delivers his impact statement to Amber Guyger at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Texas, on Oct 2, 2019. (Photo: Tom Fox/Pool via Reuters)

"What he did today, was remarkable, and he did it all on his own," Allison Jean told CBS News. "What Brandt did was to cleanse his heart towards Amber.

Allison Jean added though that she did not want it to be "misconstrued as a complete forgiveness of everybody".

"There is a lot that has to be done by the Dallas Police Department, by the Texas Rangers, by the city of Dallas," Allison Jean said.

Botham Jean's shooting and its aftermath sparked demonstrations and appeals for justice in a nation where white police officers who shoot people of colour often go free.

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

Amber Guyger leaves the 204th District Court for jail. (Photo: Tom Fox/Pool via Reuters)

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".

Guyger also shared a post on Pinterest that stated: "I wear all black to remind you not to mess with me, because I'm already dressed for your funeral."

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.

Source: AGENCIES/zl

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