A Texas jury sentenced Amber Guyger to 10 years in prison on Wednesday with the whole country watching. Guyger was found guilty of murdering 26-year-old Botham Jean in a case that has had national attention for just over a year. Now, social media is weighing in on the results.
Guyger's case has been considered a battleground for the Black Lives Matter movement over the last year. On Sept. 6, 2018, The Dallas cop walked into the apartment above her own, mistook Jean for an intruder and shot him with her service weapon.
On Tuesday, the jury surprised some by finding Guyger guilty of murder after a short deliberation. On Wednesday, they offered yet another surprise by giving Guyger a 10-year sentence, according to a report by the Star Telegram. The former police officer could have gotten as many as 99 years behind bars for her crime, and prosecutors asked for at least 28.
However, those affected by Jean's passing were not necessarily disappointed by the sentence. According to NPR reporter Bobby Allyn, Jean's brother hugged Guyger in the courtroom after the sentence was handed down.
"Wow I've never seen this before at a sentencing hearing," he remarked. "Botham Jean's brother asked the judge if he can hug Amber Guyger after a jury sentenced her to 10 years in state prison for killing his brother. He said he forgave her, and they embraced as sobs rang out in the courtroom."
Meanwhile, others felt that the lenient sentence indicated the continuing systemic racism of American law. Activist Frederick Joseph tweeted that Guyger will "be parole eligible after 5 [years] for what was obviously premeditated manslaughter," adding: "Meanwhile, there are generations of Black and brown people sitting in cells for far less and far longer."
I have never seen a judge hugging a convicted cold blooded murderer. Black people in this courtroom was hugging, petting and comforting this racist killer Amber Guyger nonstop. Thats the justification that mostly white-identified jury needed to give her a slap on the wrist#smh pic.twitter.com/itzJHi1Njj— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) October 2, 2019
Some users even cited specific cases where African-American convicts were given harsher sentences than Guyger. Activist Bishop Talbert Swan tweeted about another case where a Chicago cop murder a teenager and was sentenced to six years in prison. Meanwhile, he noted, Kelontre Barefield was given 34 years for killing "a police DOG."
"THE VALUE OF BLACK LIFE," he wrote, adding: "AmeriKKa."0comments
The issue sparked a deluge of arguments on social media on Wednesday night. There are many moving parts to consider, and users debated everything from the specifics of the case to the laws themselves, trying to determine what justice should look like. This was reportedly the last thing Guyger's defense attorney wanted.
"The jury should not conflate this case with the cases of other police officers who have killed black men in the United States and have not served any prison time," he reportedly said in his closing argument. "Amber Guyger has been punished. She’s shown true remorse. She feels horrible for what she did to Botham Jean, and she regrets it with every bit of herself."