Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer convicted of murder for fatally shooting her unarmed neighbor in his apartment, was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison.
Guyger, 31, learned her fate after a sentencing hearing that included emotional testimony from the family of the victim, Botham Jean, and revelations that she shared racist and offensive texts and social media posts.
Prosecutors had asked jurors to sentence Guyger to at least 28 years — symbolic because Jean would have turned 28 last Sunday.
In a dramatic victim’s impact statement, Jean’s brother, Brandt Jean, forgave Guyger and embraced her in court.
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.”
Brandt Jean then asked permission to hug Guyger, which was granted. He walked over to Guyger and embraced her for almost a full minute as loud sobs rang through the courtroom.
The Jeans’ mother, Allison Jean, had testified Tuesday that she still struggles with the trauma of her son’s death, saying: “I cannot sleep. I cannot eat. It’s just been the most terrible time for me.”
Guyger did not testify during her sentencing, but she has the opportunity to appeal the conviction in the unique case, which has gripped the city of Dallas and shattered the idea that law-abiding residents can be safe in their own homes.
The jury was allowed to consider whether Jean’s death was the result of “sudden passion,” which meant Guyger acted in the heat of the moment. It carried a lesser sentence of two to 20 years behind bars.
Guyger, a five-year police veteran, lived one floor below Jean, 26, an accountant, in their apartment complex. She testified that she was off-duty but in uniform when she mistakenly entered his unit on Sept. 6, 2018, after a long shift at work, believed Jean was a burglar and shot him in the chest, saying she feared for her safety.
Guyger is white and Jean, a native of the island nation of St. Lucia who moved to Dallas for a job with PricewaterhouseCoopers, was black. His death stoked protests, led to Guyger’s firing and renewed conversations about police use of force and racial bias.
During the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Guyger’s mother, Karen Guyger, 66, testified that her then-boyfriend had molested Guyger when she was 6.
She said she reported the assault it to police and that the man was arrested. NBC News was unable to immediately learn the outcome of the case.
Karen Guyger added that her daughter was distraught after killing Jean.
“She feels very bad about it,” Karen Guyger said through tears.
Dallas County prosecutors built a case through Guyger’s police disciplinary records, texts and social media posts to speak to her character and argue that she was undeserving of a lenient sentence.