Update: October 2, 5:19 p.m. ET
Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years for murdering her neighbor, Botham Jean.
TRIAL IS OVER: Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of Botham Jean.— NBC DFW (@NBCDFW) October 2, 2019
More: https://t.co/skHmtjZ5q5#AmberGuygerTrial pic.twitter.com/pFRSXqx9ea
On September 6, 2018, then-Dallas police officer Amber Guyger entered the home of her upstairs neighbor, Botham Jean, and shot and killed him. Her fellow officers initially balked at arresting her, but she was eventually booked three days later on manslaughter charges—following advocacy for the 28-year-old Saint-Lucia born Black man—but maintained that she thought she was in her own apartment and that he was an intruder.
“I have to believe based on experience that her decision to use deadly force in the way that she did was influenced by the fact that she was standing in front of a Black male and that our society has allowed law enforcement to use deadly force in unnecessary situations against Black men with impunity,” the family’s attorney S. Lee Merritt said at the time.
On Tuesday (October 1), a jury took less than 24 hours to find Guyger guilty of murder, choosing not to drop down to a lesser offense of manslaughter. The White 31-year-old woman will be sentenced today; the charge carries a sentence of 5 to 99 years—effectively life—in prison.
WVTM13 (@WVTM13) October 1, 2019
Jean’s family was reportedly relieved by the verdict. Per CNN:
Botham Jean’s mother threw both arms up in the air upon hearing the guilty verdict. Another woman started to shout in praise, but the bailiff quickly chastised her.
Multiple members of Jean’s family broke out sobbing and hugged members of the prosecution team.
Meanwhile, Amber Guyger’s mother broke down crying.
After the judge started dismissed the room and the doors opened, people in the hallway began clapping and cheering loudly. Other members of the public were crying on benches in hallway.
There were shouts of “Guilty! Guilty!” and “Black lives matter” from those in the hallway.
Merritt tweeted a statement from the family shortly after the announcement:
On behalf of the family of Botham Shem Jean, thank you Dallas County for delivering the proper murder conviction of Amber Guyger. Botham did not deserve to die. His family deserved justice. pic.twitter.com/zHdYRINKhN— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) October 1, 2019
Many others took to Twitter to express shock and relief that the former officer was held accountable for taking the life of a Black man.
Botham Jean should be alive. But if someone like Amber Guyger murders him in an America that stays true to what is promised on paper—paraphrasing Dr. King—this is what is supposed to happen. I keep longing for the day when we are not surprised by justice. https://t.co/TDBu7wEUoP— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) October 1, 2019
I’ve had to deaden parts of myself in order to cope with the ongoing experience of regularly following the news. If I allowed myself to feel it all, I’d buckle under the weight of grief. https://t.co/zVV8vDouBn— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) October 1, 2019
There were 5 Black people and 5 non-Black POC on this jury. That’s how this verdict happened. DO NOT SKIP JURY DUTY, PLEASE.— Naima Cochrane (@naima) October 1, 2019
A small bit of justice. Rest in Peace. pic.twitter.com/cPxiZrmuYr— Rebecca Shuri She Ready Carroll (@rebel19) October 1, 2019