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Dallas cop gets 10 years in prison for killing her neighbor

Fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger listens as friends, family and coworkers speak in her defense during the sentencing phase of her murder trial, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, in Dallas. Guyger, who said she fatally shot her unarmed, black neighbor Botham Jean after mistaking his apartment for her own, was found guilty of murder the day before. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

DALLAS (AP) — Amber Guyger has been sentenced to spend ten years in prison. This, after the Dallas police officer was convicted of shooting Botham Jean, a black man who she mistook for being in her apartment.

People outside of the courtroom reacted angrily to the 10-year sentence, believing it was too lenient.  In the meantime, Jean’s brother was allowed to address Guyger directly from the witness stand.

Ask God for forgiveness

Brandt Jean told Guyger that he thinks his brother would have wanted her to turn her life over to Christ and that if she can ask God for forgiveness, she will get it.

“I love you as a person. I don’t wish anything bad on you,” he said to the 31-year-old Guyger. Then he added, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug?”
The judge said he could, and Brandt and Guyger stood up, met in front of the bench and embraced while Guyger cried.

The jury could have sentenced the former officer to up to life in prison or as little as two years. But prosecutors asked the jury to send her to prison for 28 years, which is how old Botham Jean would have been if he was still alive.

Sentence not enough for some

The 10-year sentence was met with boos and jeers by the crowd outside of the packed courtroom, with one woman saying, “It’s a slap in the face.”

Throughout the trial, the basic facts of the unusual shooting were not in dispute. 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.

The wrong floor

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 burglarized 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 Tuesday.

The jury was largely made up of women and people of color.

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Associated Press writers Jamie Stengle in Dallas and Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report.
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Follow Jake Bleiberg on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jzbleiberg