Sat | Oct 19, 2019

Judge says she couldn’t refuse hug to Botham Jean's murder convict

Published:Monday | October 7, 2019 | 4:48 PM
State District Judge Tammy Kemp gives former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger a hug before Guyger leaves for jail, Wednesday, October 2, 2019, in Dallas. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

DALLAS (AP) — The judge who gave a hug and Bible to a former Dallas police officer after she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing her neighbour said Monday that she watched the woman change during her trial and wants her to live a purposeful life.

Judge Tammy Kemp said she had never previously acknowledged her Christian faith to a defendant or given one a Bible, but Amber Guyger said she didn’t have one at the end of her trial for the September 2018 killing of her upstairs neighbour, Botham Jean.

In her first interview since the jury convicted Guyger of murder last week, Kemp said she felt her actions were appropriate since the trial was over and the former officer told her she didn’t know how to begin seeking God’s forgiveness.

“She asked me if I thought that God could forgive her and I said, ‘Yes, God can forgive you and has,’” Kemp told The Associated Press.

“If she wanted to start with the Bible, I didn’t want her to go back to the jail and to sink into doubt and self-pity and become bitter,” she said.

“Because she still has a lot of life ahead of her following her sentence and I would hope that she could live it purposefully.”

Critics contend that it was unethical of Kemp to hug Guyger and give her the Bible.

One group asked for a judicial misconduct investigation, and some activists have said the hug took the focus off justified anger at a police killing.

Jean’s death drew widespread attention because of the strange circumstances and because it was one in a string of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers.

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