Judge hugs Amber Guyger, gives her a Bible after murder conviction, causing stir
The judge in the murder trial of Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer sentenced to 10 years for fatally shooting her neighbor, caused a stir Wednesday when she hugged the convicted killer after the sentencing.
While some praised the move as a demonstration of religious faith, others — including former ESPN anchor Jemele Hill — criticized the judge’s action as “unacceptable.”
Guyger, a four-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, had been fired and charged with manslaughter after she entered Botham Jean’s apartment on Sept. 6, 2018, thinking it was her own and shot him twice, killing him. She was indicted on a murder charge two months later.
State District Judge Tammy Kemp gives former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger a hug before Guyger leaves for jail, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, in Dallas. Guyger, who said she mistook neighbor Botham Jean’s apartment for her own and fatally shot him in his living room, was sentenced to a decade in prison. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)
Following Wednesday’s sentencing, Judge Tammy Kemp comforted Jean’s family, then briefly spoke with Guyger and left the room. The judge soon returned with a Bible, WFAA-TV of Dallas reported.
“You just need a tiny mustard seed of faith. You start with this,” she said, giving the Bible to Guyger.
Kemp and Guyger then embraced. The hug came after the brother of murder victim Botham Jean made a similar gesture toward Guyger.
“You haven’t done so much that you can’t be forgiven,” the judge told Guyger, according to WFAA. “You did something bad in one moment in time. What you do now matters.”
Protesters and some on social media decried both the sentencing and Kemp’s embrace of Guyger.
“[T]his judge choosing to hug this woman is unacceptable,” Atlantic columnist Jemele Hill wrote on Twitter. “Keep in mind this convicted murderer is the same one who laughed about Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, and killing ppl on sight.”
The courtroom was brought to tears earlier when Jean’s brother hugged Guyger and said, “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.”
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.