Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer convicted of murder after fatally shooting an unarmed black neighbor in his own apartment, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Wednesday.
Guyger, 31, could have faced up to 99 years in the 2018 slaying of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old St. Lucia native, church singer and accountant whose death drew protesters to Dallas streets.
Wednesday's sentencing hearing ended with an extraordinary scene: Jean's younger brother asked for permission to hug Guyger. He said he did not even want to see her go to jail, as his brother would have wanted better things for her.
"I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do," Brandt Jean told Guyger from the stand. "I love you as a person and I don't wish anything bad on you. I don't know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug please? Please?"
Then, as both of their families watched, the ex-officer and the brother of the man she killed held each other in a long embrace.
It was the conclusion of a closely watched case. Guyger had said she thought she was entering her own apartment and, mistaking Jean for a burglar, shot him out of fear for her life. Prosecutors said Jean, who had been sitting on his couch eating ice cream, posed no threat — and jurors agreed, rejecting Guyger's self-defense argument.
Under Texas law, the 12-member jury that convicted Guyger was also tasked with determining her punishment.
Before breaking for deliberations, the jurors heard testimony from friends and family of both Guyger and Jean, who described each in glowing terms and discussed the far-reaching consequences of their fatal encounter.
Prosecutors asked jurors to consider how the loss of Jean — a loving, encouraging man who spent his life wanting to help others — affected not only those close to him but "all of us."
"We all were robbed of Botham and the greatness that he brought to Dallas County," one prosecutor said. "But honestly, who knows what his impact could truly have been had his life not been taken from him."
They contrasted Jean's character against Guyger's, pointing to text messages in which she mocked her black colleagues and joked about the death of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Those exchanges reveal what she "had in her heart" when others weren't looking, they said.
But Guyger's attorneys said the texts were only a "snapshot" of her life and sought to portray her as a dedicated public servant who made a terrible mistake.
Friends and family of Jean told the jury about the pain of losing a man they described as warm and joyful, a natural leader and supportive friend.
Jean's father, Bertram Jean, sobbed as he talked about his son.
"How could this have happened to our family?" Bertram Jean asked. "How could we have lost Botham, such a good boy? He tried his best to live a good, honest life. He loved God; he loved everyone. How could this have happened to him?"