Amber Guyger, the ex-Dallas cop convicted of murdering her upstairs neighbor Botham Jean after she entered his home uninvited and shot him dead, was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison.
The same Dallas County jury that found her guilty Tuesday of murdering the 26-year-old accountant last year as he sat in his living room eating ice cream decided that Guyger should spend the next decade in prison, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Guyger, 31, had faced a sentence of between five and 99 years, or life, in prison. Prosecutors, led by Assistant District Attorney LaQuita Long, had sought a sentence of at least 28 years, which would have been Jean’s age this coming Sunday if his life hadn’t been cut short.
Jean’s family, as well as their supporters, were relieved at the guilty verdict. But after the sentencing, advocates expressed dismay about how much effort it seems to take in order for black folks’ deaths to be taken seriously.
“What about my son? What about Botham Jean?” a tearful Dee Crane, mother of a 17-year-old shot by police in Arlington, Texas, in 2017, told the Morning News. “How many of us is it going to take before you understand that our lives matter?”
At least one community activist, Dominique Alexander, told the paper that 10 years was too lenient of sentence for Guyger and that he was calling for a protest Wednesday evening on the courthouse steps.
Members of Jean’s family remained inside the courtroom after the jury handed down the sentence, according to the Morning News.
Guyger’s legal team sought mercy from the jury, saying that Jean’s death was the result of a tragic mistake, brought on by Guyger’s mistaking Jean’s apartment for her own and her then believing Jean to be an intruder.
During trial, a tearful Guyger, who was fired from the Dallas police force after killing Jean, told jurors she regretted the shooting. Family and friends testified that she was a good person at heart.
“Through these horrible series of events, she went into his apartment by mistake,” [defense attorney Toby] Shook said. “She pulled that trigger in an instant — an instant she will regret for the rest of her life. ... She didn’t go there seeking to kill him.”
But evidence presented by prosecutors seemed to show a more troubling side to Guyger, with text messages in which Guyger cracked jokes about Martin Luther King Jr.’s death and made disparaging remarks about the work ethic of her then fellow black officers.
“The only reason we all sit in this courtroom today is because of her actions,” Long said of Guyger during closing arguments. “And for her actions, there must be consequences.”