Former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison

Oct 2, 2019
Originally published on October 3, 2019 12:54 am
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A jury sentenced former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting her neighbor, Botham Jean. She mistakenly entered his apartment thinking it was hers. Guyger had faced up to 99 years in prison. The sentence stunned some in the community who had hoped she would serve more time and was the prelude to another remarkable moment between the victim's brother and Guyger. NPR's Wade Goodwyn was at the courthouse, and he's with us now.

Wade, thanks so much for joining us.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: You're quite welcome.

MARTIN: So tell us about the reaction when the sentence was announced.

GOODWYN: Well, it was the complete opposite of the reaction yesterday when the verdict was announced. And when the verdict was announced, there was this kind of a yelp and a clap, and the judge and the bailiff had to admonish the courtroom that there would be no outbursts. And then out in the hallway as the news filtered out that she'd been - that Guyger had been found guilty of murder, there was cheering and chanting. Today it was just, like, dead silent, both in the courtroom and outside the courtroom. And, you know, the jury came back within two hours of beginning the deliberation. And when that happened, I think there was widespread expectation that Guyger was really about to get the book thrown at her. And when the verdict came back - the sentence came back of 10 years, I think there was a - it was a big surprise for a lot of people.

MARTIN: But I also want to talk about another moment in court after Guyger's sentence was announced. This is when Botham Jean's brother Brandt spoke to Amber Guyger. Tell us about that, please.

GOODWYN: So - you know, he's doing a victim impact statement. And, you know, he said, you know - he wasn't speaking for his family, but he was just speaking for himself. And he was speaking kind of on behalf of his dead brother, Botham, that he knew that what Botham would want was for Guyger to, you know, go to Christ. And here's what that sounded like.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRANDT JEAN: Again, I love you as a person. And I don't wish anything bad on you. I don't know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug, please? Please.

GOODWYN: And so then Guyger rushes into Brandt Jean's arms. And, you know, the judge kind of begins to cry. And there's, you know, crying throughout the courtroom. And, you know, it was a remarkable display of grace.

MARTIN: And - it sounds like it. And Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years. What happens next? When will she be eligible for parole?

GOODWYN: Well, she could be eligible for parole - you know, Texas law - by serving half the sentence. Being eligible for parole does not mean you get out. It just means you get up for review. She could well serve the full 10 years, but she certainly starts today.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Wade Goodwyn in Dallas.

Wade, thank you.

GOODWYN: You're quite welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.