A jury of eight women and four men sentenced former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger to 10 years in prison on Oct. 2 for killing PwC Dallas accountant Botham Jean, a day after the jurors convicted her of murder.
The jurors—five of whom are black, five are Hispanic or Asian, and two who are white—only took about an hour and a half this afternoon to reach their decision on a sentence that really is a slap on the wrist for an off-duty cop entering a guy’s home without his permission and shooting that innocent, unarmed man to death.
And she’ll be eligible for parole in five years, so she probably won’t even make it to 10.
Prosecutors had been seeking a sentence of at least 28 years for Guyger. Why 28 years? That’s how old Jean would have turned on Sept. 29.
In Texas, Guyger, 31, could have been sentenced to as little as five years in prison for murder or as much as life in prison.
No doubt prosecutors and the attorneys representing the Jean family aren’t happy about the sentencing. Jean family attorney S. Lee Merritt sent out the following tweets shortly after the jury’s decision:
We think the world of Botham Jean. He was assassinated and we wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than the maximum sentence but we get we are too close to this. The jury has spoken and now there is much more work to be done. pic.twitter.com/tAovuAIcOx
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) October 2, 2019
The jury has convicted Amber Guyger of ten years. Of course that’s inadequate. The entire justice system is inadequate and the work must continue. pic.twitter.com/NACo3lyO4G
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) October 2, 2019
Yesterday was a different story, as Jean family attorney Ben Crump said he was pleased with Guyger’s conviction. He said in an emailed statement:
“Nothing will bring Botham back, but today his family has found some measure of justice. What happened on September 6, 2018, is clear to everyone: This officer saw a black man and shot, without reason and without justification. The jury’s thoughtful verdict sets a powerful precedent for future cases, telling law enforcement officers that they cannot hide behind the badge but instead will face justice for their wrongful actions.”
Just before 10 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2018, Jean was in his apartment on the fourth floor of the South Side Flats apartment complex in Dallas eating ice cream on his couch and watching TV when Guyger, who had just completed a 13 1/2-hour shift and was in uniform, opened the front door, thinking it was her apartment on the third floor.
Defense attorneys claimed on Sept. 23, the first day of the trial, that Guyger was on “autopilot” and fatigued after working 40 hours in four days. Defense attorney Robert Rogers told jurors Guyger was not paying attention when she parked on the fourth floor instead of the third floor of the garage, where the numbers aren’t clearly marked on the floors.
But it was revealed during the trial that Guyger had been sexting her married police partner, Martin Rivera, right before arriving at the apartment complex, which prosecutors used to prove that she wasn’t that tired after her shift.
News One reported:
Prosecutor Jason Hermus questioned how Guyger could be tired since he said the text messages suggest she was ready to meet her boyfriend for sex. After Guyger finished her 13 and a half hour shift, Hermus said the contents of the text messages show she did not have plans to go home and rest, which is what someone who was supposed to be exhausted would likely do after a long day at work. The text messages showed “she had plans,” Hermus said while reading from a transcript of the messages.
“When can I come over?” Martin Rivera, identified as the person Guyger was texting with, asked in his message.
“You can come over after this,” Guyger responded in an apparent allusion to her finishing up at work.
She then texted to Rivera: “super horny today too,” to which Rivera responded, “me too.”
That prompted Guyger to ask him in her next text: “Do you wanna touch?”
That exchange showed, Hermus argued, that Guyger had plans to have sex with Rivera. It also belied logic, Hermus said, since Guyger was supposed to be exhausted — the reason she blamed on entering Jean’s apartment, which was located exactly one floor beneath hers.
When Guyger opened the door to Jean’s apartment and saw him, she thought he was an intruder. Guyger eventually fired two shots at Jean, one fatally hitting him in the chest. When she took the witness stand on Sept. 30, Guyger said she shot Jean because “I was scared he was gonna kill me.”
The Texas Ranger who led the investigation, David Armstrong, testified on Sept. 25, outside the presence of the jury, that he didn’t believe Guyger had committed a crime when she shot Jean, saying it was reasonable that she thought she was in her apartment and that Jean was an intruder.
Prosecutors told the jury that Guyger missed several signs that she was on the wrong floor and in the wrong apartment, including a red doormat, a neighbor’s planter, a missing table, and clutter on the kitchen counter, according to a CNN report.
During the trial, jurors saw body-cam footage of police officers performing life-saving aid on Jean while he was dying. Prosecutors said Guyger didn’t do enough to save Jean’s life.
ABC News reported:
Guyger told the court she did a sternum rub on the victim, which is often performed by EMTs.
“I wanted him to keep breathing,” she testified. “The state he was in, I knew it wasn’t good.”
But during cross-examination, prosecutors accused Guyger of not giving Jean undivided attention for CPR.
Guyger admitted to trying to perform a “little CPR,” but she said she kept getting up to figure out where she was and tell 911. Guyger also admitted to stopping CPR to text her married police partner to come help.
The officer also testified that she didn’t take her first aid kit out of her backpack to use and said she did not have any blood on her uniform or shoes.
In the 911 call she made after shooting Jean, Guyger repeatedly told the dispatcher that she thought she had entered her apartment, not Jean’s, and that she was going to lose her job.
Guyger did get fired from her job on Sept. 24, about two weeks after she was arrested and charged with manslaughter in Jean’s death. Guyger had worked for the Dallas Police Department for nearly five years.
After two days of hearing evidence in late November, a Dallas County grand jury on Nov. 30 upgraded Guyger’s charge from manslaughter to murder. She turned herself in to authorities that afternoon and was released on $200,000 bond.
PwC Chairman Tim Ryan released the following statement on Twitter yesterday following Guyger’s conviction:
Bo’s death was a heartbreak for all of us at @PwCUS. I’m asking you to remember the tremendous person we lost at the center of this, our beloved friend and colleague Bo. He is dearly missed, but we can make sure his impact lives on by being kind & generous to everyone around us.
— Tim Ryan (@Timothy_F_Ryan) October 1, 2019
Guyger’s 10-year sentence starts immediately, state District Judge Tammy Kamp said on Wednesday afternoon.