Sentencing former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger to 10 years for the fatal shooting of her neighbor, Botham Jean, was one of the hardest things jurors ever had to do, two of them told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Ultimately, after hearing about Jean’s forgiving nature, they couldn’t bring themselves to sentence Guyger to the full 28 years behind bars that prosecutors asked for.
“There’s no way we could ever know what he would want,” one of them, a white man, said in an interview that aired Friday morning. “But I think we all had to make a decision that we could live with and that our conscience could be sound with.”
Jean, a 26-year-old black man, died after Guyger, a 31-year-old white woman, entered his apartment and shot him. She said she mistook Jean’s apartment, which was one floor above hers, for her own, and that she believed Jean was an intruder.
Some believe the sentence was too lenient. Jean’s mother said Thursday the life of her son was worth more than the 10-year sentence Guyger received.
Many tears were shed while deciding the sentence, the jurors said. But after hearing about Jean and the kind of “caring and forgiving” person he was, the jurors — who were unnamed — wanted to reflect that in their decision.
“I was like, I can’t give her 28 years,” the other juror, a black woman, said. “I know a lot of people are not happy about the 10 years, but I felt like … You can’t compare this case to any of those other officers killing unarmed black men.”
“Those officers … when they got out, they went back to living their lives. Amber Guyger, ever since she killed that man, she has not been the same,” she explained. “She showed remorse and that she’s going to have to deal with that for the rest of her life.”
“I don’t think Bo would want to take harsh vengeance,” said the male juror. “I think he would want to forgive her.”
It was a display of forgiveness that helped the jurors feel like they “ended up with the right decision,” he said. Jean’s 18-year-old brother hugged Guyger in the courtroom on Wednesday.
“One thing that Botham can teach us all is that we should all love each other instead of hate each other,” the woman told ABC. “And I honestly think that if Botham would have just got shot and not killed, I think he would have forgiven Amber Guyger.”