Brandt Jean Has Every Right To Forgive Amber Guyger, the Ex-Cop Who Killed His Brother

America's justice system should leave more room for mercy.


"If you truly are sorry—I know I can speak for myself—I forgive you," said Brandt Jean before joining in a tearful embrace with his brother's convicted murderer, Amber Guyger.

It was a stunning display of mercy following a guilty verdict for the white ex-cop, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison this week for shooting and killing Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black man, after she entered his apartment, mistaking it for her own.

The backlash was stunning as well: not just against Guyger's sentence, but also in response to the compassion granted by Brandt Jean and the judge, Tammy Kemp, who gave Guyger a Bible, words of wisdom, and a hug before sending her on her way to prison.

"I have preached #forgiveness for 25 years, BUT using the willingness of Black people to forgive as an excuse to further victimize Black people is SINFUL," former NAACP President and ordained minister Cornell Brooks said. Jemele Hill, a staff writer at The Atlantic, took greater issue with Judge Kemp, who is also black. "How Botham Jean's brother chooses to grieve is his business," she tweeted. "He's entitled to that. But this judge choosing to hug this woman is unacceptable."

Echoing their sentiments, activists took to Dallas's streets this week to protest the sentence, which one attendee described as nothing more than a "time-out." Such reactions are understandable considering that black people in America have disproportionately suffered at the hands of the state and institutionalized racism. But the hasty desire to scrub our overly harsh criminal justice system of any vestige of mercy—whether it be in the form of a forgiving word or a "lenient" sentence—is essentially an effort to right wrongs with more wrongs.

Racial disparities in sentencing are shrinking, but the pendulum has moved in the wrong direction: Efforts to homogenize punishments with mandatory minimums have only led to more excessive punishments across the board. That includes the less privileged of all races, who were already spending too much time locked away.

Crystal Mason, a black woman who was sentenced to five years in prison for illegally voting, has become a figurehead for the debate. After a jury announced Guyger's sentence, comparisons were immediately drawn between the two women.

It wasn't the first time, however, that Mason landed in the mainstream conversation around issues of race, crime, and sentencing: actress Felicity Huffman's 14-day prison sentence elicited similar outrage. But just because Mason received a ridiculously unjust and excessively penal sentence, does not mean that Guyger, Huffman, and whoever else should, too. As I wrote last month:

To answer in the affirmative is to say our criminal justice system is bad because it penalizes people disproportionately. But that is not, in fact, the primary problem. The problem is that it excessively penalizes so many people at all, generally by criminalizing everything under the sun. Throwing Huffman behind bars and tossing away the key would do nothing to address our unenviable distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Locking Guyger away 20 years, or 30 years, or the rest of her natural life, would not help Mason. It would not bring back Botham Jean. It would likely not even change the way police officers in America interact with the people they are supposed to protect and serve. It would just hurt Guyger.

What's more, Guyger's case is not a great example of police brutality, which is why the jury correctly refused to make an example of her on those grounds. "This case was not like any other case. You can't compare this case to any of those other unarmed officers killing unarmed black men," Juror 21, a black woman, told ABC News. She added that Guyger "showed remorse," and will have to deal with this "for the rest of her life."

That likely won't be enough for those who want retribution—not just for Jean, but for all of the black men and women and boys and girls killed by police officers, as well as those who have been given outrageously long prison sentences. It is possible to ache for them and advocate for them without insisting that, until things change, everyone must suffer as they suffer.

Punishing Guyger in every way imaginable, from a harsher sentence to giving her the cold shoulder during a victim impact statement, was a chance to get vengeance. But hurting her to the maximum extent under the law is not justice. Nor is scolding the people who saw her as a flawed human and chose to show her compassion.

NEXT: The New York Times Says 'Free Speech Is Killing Us.' But Violent Crime Is Lower Than Ever.

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  1. Who is arguing he didnt have the right to forgive her?

    1. "I have preached #forgiveness for 25 years, BUT using the willingness of Black people to forgive as an excuse to further victimize Black people is SINFUL," former NAACP President and ordained minister Cornell Brooks said.

      1. Are you incapable of reading or understanding what he is saying?

      1. The Root is the most racist publication I've ever personally come across

        1. I've never read that publication before, but I don't think that article was crazy or anything.

          The author was basically saying that the victim's brother hugged the cop for his own sake, for his own reasons, and that's TOTALLY FINE.

          We don't need to extrapolate some kind of bigger meaning from the act. It's not a moral imperative that victims of violence embrace the perpetrators of that violence. If anything, it makes me feel good for the brother; that he might possess the tools to handle trauma a little better than most people would. Forgiveness probably feels cathartic in some way; while holding on to hate probably isn't the best thing for you.

          But I do think it's kind of weird that the judge hugged the perpetrator. I mean, I get that this is a messed up situation where the cop screwed up big time and probably feels complete remorse over the act... as a human being I can see why the judge felt those emotions, but as a judge one of the things you're getting payed to do is dispense justice dispassionately.

          While I'm not outraged by it personally, I think criticism of the judge's actions is reasonable.

          1. Holding on to hate will eat you up from the inside out. Trust me I’ve done so. When I finally did let it go. I found peace that I’d spent fifteen years of my life trying to find.

    2. The criticisms are for the judge, who gave her a bible and also hugged her.

      1. Yup. reason turns that criticism of the judge into a racial thing about the Black brother forgiving a White cop.

        It's another reason why reason staff are a joke.

        1. The fact that the judge was black too, makes it extra racist.

          Reason, J(ew)Free (the fucking antisemite) and Kirkland should just admit that it's the Bible that has their panties in a twist. If the judge had handed out a Dawkins tract or a Koran, it would have been cool beans.

    3. Jezebel, apparently; another commenter here (I forget who) had mentioned how appalling it was.

        1. America loves black people who forgive their tormenters. It’s why there was so much praise for the victims of the Charleston church shooting forgiving unrepentant racist Dylan Roof. It’s why people love this long-debunked photo of a black medical team operating on a member of the Ku Klux Klan. And it’s why people love to weaponize this story about a black man who spent 30 years befriending Ku Klux Klan members, as evidence against those who won’t forgive someone’s racist transgressions. The latter, importantly, got a lot of circulation during the Shane Gillis SNL controversy.

          ...>Black people do not possess a supernatural ability to forgive, no matter what church they may or may not go to. But this doesn’t track with America’s obsession with watching traumatized black people take the higher road. And America’s obsession with watching traumatized black people take the higher road is borne of a culture that wants to abandon trauma, that seeks for a neat ending to the structural clusterfuck that forces black people to experience so much of it.

          1. Both are quotes from the article.

            Preview button woulda been nice. Or mabye an edit feature.

            1. Proofreading is good too.

          2. Don't people in general like it when people forgive their tormentors? Particularly Christian people who put a lot of stock in forgiveness in general?
            What is wrong with people?

      1. Plus, the display of Christian behavior is beyond the pale.

        1. Abusing blacks is traditional Christian behavior, you half-educated rube.

          1. You are a fucking retard.

          2. Yeah those black abusing Xtians like William Wilberforce, John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Levi Coffin, Frederick Douglass, John Wesley Posey, Calvin Fairbank, John Newton, William Morgan, John Clarkson, Thomas Babington, Martin Luther King Jr, etc.

            Aside from possibly Erasmus Darwin, can someone name an Western abolitionist who wasn't a Christian?

          3. The Lordes army approves this message!

          4. Excuse me you fake pathetic hateful excuse for a reverend, but where is abusing blacks part of Christian dogma or practice? You tiny mind seems to forget that 90% of inter-racial murders and 100% of inter-racial rapes are COMMITTED by blacks and most blacks are Christians too

    4. The intolerant left, who else?

      1. Open wider, LiborCon. Your betters have more progress you must swallow, clinger.

    5. Someone did right here on the day the sentence was announced.

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    7. I'm with you. Of course he had the right to forgive her. What he didn't have was the right to pardon her. The governor can do that, maybe he should talk to the governor.

      But, you know, part of remorse is being willing to take the punishment.

  2. I have preached #forgiveness for 25 years, BUT using the willingness of Black people to forgive as an excuse to further victimize Black people is SINFUL...

    As an outrage enthusiast I welcomed this opportunity for a fresh hit.

    1. “Now I’m all for the loving forgiveness of Jesus, but....”

  3. The judge should be censured for hugging her though.

    1. That sentence was confusing. If the judge hugged her the judge should get a time out from her job. Maybe a month’s unpaid leave. Justice is supposed to be blind and unbiased.

      1. Maybe, I don't know the whole court was evidently moved to tears. She is after all a human too. Definitely may merit a look into her decisions but that should happen more often to every judge. Plus I saw some group wants her head because she gave a bible to Guyger. As an agnostic this is why I won't say I am an atheist, even though I am like 90 - 99% positive there is no god on any given day.

        1. Yes, she is human, but she made a horrible mistake that cost an innocent man his life, and it is hard to imagine oneself in her shoes on that night, but easy to pretend oneself would have exercised better judgement.

          1. Ah, the old double standard again. A cop gives you a speeding ticket and they're all KGB agents working for the Trilateral Commission to exterminate the white race. A cop murders a black person and, hey, it was a mistake, just a little whoopsie, both sides...yadda yadda yadda.

            You're not even trying to hide it anymore, are you?

            1. Nice equivocation, but you know that's not what he was saying, you dishonest fuck.

            2. "A cop murders a black person and, hey, it was a mistake, just a little whoopsie"
              She made a mistake that was a crime too. If the victim was white it would still be fair sentence, you racist hypocrite

      2. Nonsense, if the judge were white you'd be correct. If justice weren't blind or unbiased, in this case, I don't think she would of received 10 years.

    2. No she shouldn't. If she hugged her while the victims family had not shown forgiveness, she should. If she sentenced her differently - or changed how the trial was conducted, then she should. But it's the jury who sentenced her to 10 years (down from the 28 years prosecution asked for). And the victims family who showed forgiveness.

      Which gave the judge a chance to do something different than judges normally do. She was not limited to a dry lecture from the bench accompanying sentencing.

      I think we've forgotten the real origin of common law. It's supposed to be about the specific circumstances inside that courtroom. Not about the opinions of everyone else - whether manifest in legislated sentences or whatever. I suspect the reason we have become so throw em all in jail oriented - the cruelest people in the world - is precisely because we have that lost that sense of mercy/compassion inside the courtroom so we become very easy to manipulate into getting tough from outside the courtroom as well. Easier also when prosecutor/DA is a common avenue into politics.

      1. Go sit in court and see what judges normally do.

        In fact, see what THAT judge normally does during sentencing. Anyone who sits in on a day of sentencing typically never has the same outlook on the Criminal Justice system.

        Hint: Judges don't hug victims or defendants...ever!

        1. When was the last time a victim impact statement in a murder trial demonstrated forgiveness? Of course judges NORMALLY sit behind the bench, lecture the defendant, pass sentence, bang the gavel, and trial's over. Because that's exactly what a judge SHOULD do when people are angry about the crime, exultant about the sentence, angry about the sentence, jumping up and down making statements for the cameras, etc. Stay as far removed from that as possible.

          If you look at that video - it is not the judge who hugs guyger. Guyger initiated the hug - judge was just in range. If anyone was at fault in preventing that hug it was the bailiffs - but my guess is they saw no imminent danger.

          The judge had come back into court with her bible and was reading/talking about that with Guyger. idk what the conversation was - but I think the judge has every right to determine if that may have been a better way to reaching defendant than a lecture from the bench. There is nothing in that video that is 'censurable'. And in fact everyone getting upset outside the courtroom is not getting upset about what happened as they are about how a snippet of what happened is interpreted outside the courtroom.

          1. [Slow clap]

            Nice post. The effort made to explore the context is appreciated.

  4. 10 years is punishment. Being a cop in prison, 10 years is more like 20. Being a cop in prison she might not even survive it.

    Her act was essentially manslaughter. That it was tried as murder does not matter. There was no premeditation. She made a horrible mistake but there was no malice that I could see. It was indeed a crime but 10 years seems sufficient for her crime.

    She should not be forced to bear the burden for all other cops who abused their position. She should only bear the burden for herself.

    1. Manslaughter is an accident due to negligence. Maybe going into the wrong apartment was accident, but pulling her gun and shooting was a decision. Murder doesn't have to be premeditated.

      1. +100

      2. Murder doesn’t have to be premeditated.

        That's correct.

        In fact, it doesn't even have to be your goal.

        If I wait for you to go to sleep then start firing my gun at your bedroom window (in the hopes that the noise will awaken you because I want you to make me a sandwich) and one of the bullets strikes and kills you, it's murder. True, I made no concerted effort to kill you. However, I also took no steps whatsoever to prevent it from occuring.

        Conversely, if I put forth a genuine, though meager, effort to prevent your death (i.e., instead of a rifle I use a pellet gun, yet in a stroke of bad luck one of the pellets strikes you in the head as you peer out the window to see what's going on, causing you to lose your footing and hit your head on your marble floor the offense would be manslaughter, not murder.

    2. She shot with the intent to kill at an innocent man in his own home. Mistake or not, if any of us did that, we would rightfully see a much higher penalty. I am not calling for her to bear the burden of all other cops. I am calling for her to be punished as she is--a civilian, no better than anyone else.

      1. She shot with the intent to kill at an innocent man in his own home.

        Not so.

        She didn't set our to kill him.

        She simply didn't seem to give a crap one way or another.

        1. She testified that she shot to kill.

          1. That was bog-standard weapons training language, intentionally elicited to get that reaction.

            The question was "when you pulled that trigger, did you intend to kill him?" Not 5 seconds earlier, or when entering the parking lot... but after you pointed your gun at him and yelled for him to freeze and (you say) he charged at you.

            Weapons training 101 - never shoot something you don't intend to kill. The question was set up properly to make that answer look like something it wasn't. And apparently she wasn't prepped for that question to give the bog-standard witness answer instead of the bog-standard weapons training answer. ("I just intended to stop him...")

            1. You can justify it all you want ans twist it to fit your narrative but she was asked if she meant to kill him and she said yes on the witness stand. There's not a whole lot you can with that if you're on the jury.

              1. It ain't my narrative.

                I was on the side of "they'd better prosecute this psycho" before they charged her.

                Based on what I read, I didn't buy her "wrong apartment" story. The fact that they had a running feud and at least on neighbor put their encounter as longer than she says had me leaning toward "she went there to confront and intimidate him and ended up shooting him".

                I don't know what the jury heard (didn't follow the details of the actual trial) and what of that initial reporting was true.. but that was the narrative that I adopted as "mine".

                I am critical of the national reporting on the case though. That quote was part of it - clearly it does not indicate what they intend when they show her answering yes. And so was her blubbering remorse. The seemed to mostly adopt the "accidentally went to the wrong apartment" as fact - although they did show the rug a lot. And they left out the long-standing feud over noise and recent complaints from shooter about the neighbor.

                The case against her was much less "rug plus 'yeah, when you shoot someone you mean to kill them'" and much more "bitch with anger management issues and a gun went to intimidate a neighbor that she had a beef with and when he yelled back at her she killed him".

                And her defense was much more than "oops". She also claimed he charged her and refused to comply with warning commands.

                As far as I heard, forensics failed to back up her version.

      2. And we wouldn't get a hug or a bible.

      3. She shot with intent to kill an unknown man in what she mistakenly thought was her home.

        Fortunately I don't live in a suite of cookie cutter identical apartments where I might mistake someone else's entrance for my entrance. But, when she found the door of what she thought was her apartment unlocked, she should have followed standard policy and backed up and called for backup rather than go into an unknown situation solo; in making that call and describing the apartment building, floor number, apartment number, she might have realized that oh crap, she was on the wrong danged floor.

    3. ex-cop. She was fired before she was even charged.

    4. I agree 100%. She did intentionally shoot Jean. But that in and of itself is not the entirety of the story. If we act as though it is, then we remove the ability to consider the context of other shootings that would categorize them as self defense. In those cases the shooting was also intentional. The issue is the context of the shooting and her response to that context.

      Had she in fact been in her apt, would it be murder? Is it believable that she thought it was her apt? If she walks into her home and a stranger is there, is she required to survey the area and confirm it is her home or is she allowed to take an immediate defensive posture? Now... even if we grant her all these things, the shooting can still be wrong (morally at least... legally requires hairaplitting and legal language analysis of applicable law). Did he pose an immediate threat to her which justified the shoot? It is THIS question where I feel manslaughter is the most accurate (even if not perfectly) course of action. Her mistaken action led to Jean's death but that does not rise to the level of malice or murderous intent to warrant 1st or 2nd degree to me. Yes, she intended to shoot but it wasn't in a vacuum.

      1. According to Texas law, the crime she committed was murder.

        The area of discussion where the circumstances of the murder can come into play is in her sentencing, not the definition of the crime of the crime itself.

        We can debate whether or not 10 years is excessive based on those circumstances, but there's no point in arguing what to call the crime. I understand that "murder" might SOUND wrong, but there's no debating that that's what Texas calls the thing she did.

    5. If the situation had been reversed (that is, Guyger the civilian and Jean the cop), there's no way in the world that Guyger would have been charged with only manslaughter. Yes, she made a horrible, tragic mistake. The cops would have granted no leeway for that mistake if one of their own had been killed. They would have been howling for a death sentence. Guyger is getting off light - and if she doesn't think so, maybe she can make the case to end the double-standards.

      1. You're rambling. Please stop.

        Let's tweak the details just enough to remove the red herring - i.e. whether she made a good faith error that anyone could have made, (and which I HAVE made, though in my case I'd never been in either the right or wrong units) - OR - was blatantly and unconscionably negligent. ("This COULD be my apartment, and if it isn't, too bad; I'm had a long day and I need a nappy.")

        Let's have HIM be the one who entered the wrong apartment, and let's assume he'd just realized his error and was about to head for the door when she walked in.

        Better yet, let's say he realized his error upon entering the bathroom, and seeing a counter full of girl's stuff.

        He walks out of the bathroom just as she's entering the apartment.

        If you're OK with the idea of her drawing her gun and opening fire I prepare for the bodies to start piling up all over the place.

        And they won't all be "honest errors".

        To wit . . .

        "Hey, babe, can you swing by my bosses house and fix her kitchen faucet ? She's been so great to me and I'd love to do something for her. Plus I kinda already told her you would."

        It's a lot cheaper than a divorce.

    6. You are full of shit:
      October.4.2019 at 4:51 pm
      "10 years is punishment. Being a cop in prison, 10 years is more like 20. Being a cop in prison she might not even survive it."
      She chose to be a cop.

      "Her act was essentially manslaughter. That it was tried as murder does not matter. There was no premeditation. She made a horrible mistake but there was no malice that I could see. It was indeed a crime but 10 years seems sufficient for her crime."
      Nice to see a cop apologist here, you pathetic piece of shit.

      "She should not be forced to bear the burden for all other cops who abused their position. She should only bear the burden for herself."
      Of course not! She should be seen as pure as the driven snow, you pathetic piece of shit.

  5. she tweeted

    There it is in the replies. Dallas Police Association PAC proudly endorses this judge.

  6. Brandt Jean and the judge, Tammy Kemp, who gave Guyger a Bible

    Check out the Christian Extremist here, turning other cheeks and loving his neighbors.

    1. That is precisely what has some on the far left so angry.

  7. prison serves nobody in this case.

    1. So what do you think should happen to a murderer?

      1. One way ticket to Afghanistan. Or Yemen.

      2. wouldn't have convicted her of murder

        1. Why not? She intentionally (not in dispute) killed an innocent man in his own house.

          1. prosecutors gotta prosecute. she's just a stupid chick who panicked.

            1. Right, she thought he was an aggressive home invader, so she pulled out her gun, aimed, and shot at him at close range, figuring the bullets would pass harmlessly by him.

            2. she’s just a stupid chick who panicked.

              She panicked into the wrong apartment, panicked her gun from the holster, panicked it at the occupant and panicked the trigger.

              All she did was panic. The same way anyone one of us could panic for three hours at the bar, panic into their car, panic into oncoming traffic, and panic a few innocent motorists in a deadly collision. Or the way a wife panics when her husband says he's leaving her and panics him to death with a carving knife... as long as verbs that panic can be grammatically substituted for are used, it's not murder.

        2. Dillinger
          October.4.2019 at 5:01 pm
          "wouldn’t have convicted her of murder"

          Cause cops get to kill people?

      1. cool we do that sometimes. have a good weekend.

        1. You too. Now off to prison with you for disagreeing with me.

          1. I think home invasion by an "overworked" cop is a more appropriate punishment for this act of disagreement.

  8. It was deliberate. Yes it was a mistake, but she took aim and fired.

    It wasn't like she broke rule number one and didn't check her gun before cleaning it, resulting in an errant projectile killing her neighbor.

    What would happen if one of us in such a situation?

    Say you're legally packing and you come to what you think is your front door, and find it to be ajar.

    You barge in and start shooting like a hero.

    What would you be charged with?

    I doubt it would be manslaughter.

    1. I found this on degrees of homicide under Texas law.

      "In Texas, criminal homicide is covered under Title 5, Chapter 19 of the Texas Penal Code. Under Section 19.01 of the Penal Code it states: “A person commits criminal homicide if he intentionally, knowingly, or with criminal negligence causes the death of an individual.” In Texas, there are four types of criminal homicide: 1) murder, 2) capital murder, 3) manslaughter, and 4) criminally negligent homicide. Here is a breakdown of the four homicide crimes in simple English:
      "1. Murder: You commit murder when you intentionally and knowingly take someone else’s life, or when you intend to commit an act that is clearly extremely dangerous to human life and in effect, causes death to another person. Murder is usually a felony of the first degree.
      "2. Capital Murder: There are different ways to commit capital murder. You commit capital murder if you kill a fireman or member of law enforcement. You commit capital murder if you intentionally kill someone while committing arson, kidnapping, robbery or burglary, terroristic threat, obstruction or retaliation, or sexual assault. Capital murder is a capital felony.
      "3. Manslaughter: You commit manslaughter if you “recklessly” cause the death of another person. Manslaughter is a felony of the second degree.
      "4. Criminally Negligent Homicide: If you are criminally negligent and you take someone else’s life, it would be considered criminally negligent homicide, which is a state jail felony. Some “accidental killings” fall into this category."

      Under Texas law, you would be right.
      Murder not manslaughter. [I guess because intentional but mistaken.]
      Murder not Capital Murder.
      Murder not Criminally Negligent Homicide. [Negligent is not intending to kil but it happened.]

      The only defense (grounds for acquittal) against murder (intentional killing of another human being) is the reasonable person in fear of death or greivous bodily harm test. Her blundering into another person's apt and opening fire when he rose to say "Hey! Hey!" just was not reasonable to the jury.

      You have to realize than in the rest of America, Law and Order TV show law, New York City style, applies where every homicide case is tried in the Supreme Court. Seriously. Out-of-state reporters had to be told that what they claimed they remembered from Law and Order the TV show was not Texas law.

  9. You know who else hugged people who had murdered other people?

    1. Mrs. Al Capone?

    2. OJ? No wait, is it Hillary?

    3. Jack Ketch? (Hugging by the neck)

  10. Racial disparities in sentencing are shrinking

    Any evidence that's a good thing?

    1. Common sense?

      The word was "sentencing", not e.g. conviction rates.

      1. It's hardly common sense to argue that prior convictions shouldn't influence sentencing.

        1. Sounds like we need to know more about how exactly these racial disparities play out to answer you. Is there a disparity for first time offenders, or is it just because there are more non-white repeat offenders? I don't know.

        2. I'm assuming this means, everything other than race being equal... racial disparities in sentencing are shrinking. At least that's how I'd interpret such a statement.

  11. 10 years... Life is cheap.

  12. "Locking Guyger away 20 years, or 30 years, or the rest of her natural life, would not help Mason. It would not bring back Bothan Jean. It would likely not even change the way police officers in America interact with the people they are supposed to protect and serve. It would just hurt Guyger."

    Works for me.

    In all seriousness, someone who wrongfully takes another human being's life should pay for that act. Part of it is making sure they don't get to walk away and boast about how they escape justice, Another part is deterrence, including encouraging people to be more careful whose home they walk into. If there's any reason for suspecting you're not in the right home, assess your surroundings and make sure you're totally in the right place.

    1. If there’s any reason for suspecting you’re not in the right home, assess your surroundings and make sure you’re totally in the right place.

      2. Don't point a gun at anything you don't intend to kill or destroy.
      3. Confirm your target and what is beyond it.
      4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot.

      I don't rouse my 6 yr. old from slumber to make sure he knows these rules in a half-awake state, but I wouldn't accept an "I'm too tired." from him as an excuse to violate any of them.

  13. Sentencing based on emotion can go both ways. What about the defendant who doesn't have the benefit of an Oprah huggy-touchy-feely moment in court? Should that defendant get an extra sentence because of emotion?

    1. Was that huggy-touchy-feely moment in court before or after the actual sentencing? Hmmm. Going back to the toop, it reads to me that the huggy-touchy-feely moments were AFTER the sentence was announced. Please re-read the story, may be follow the links.

  14. Now, it's possible that all these demonstrations of forgiveness are meant to tamp down the possibility of riots. If so, fine.

    As for spiritual healing and the rest of it, the killer can start a Bible club in the prison and find a niche for herself that way.

    1. As for spiritual healing and the rest of it, the killer can start a Bible club in the prison and find a niche for herself that way.

      IIRC, that's exactly what Jean suggested that she do.

      Odd to see you coming out against Christian forgiveness. Feeling okay?

      1. It's a great thing.

        Of course, it doesn't preclude compassion for the victim and future victims. It doesn't preclude doing justice.

        If justice means ten years, out on parole in five, then so be it - that seems to be what the jury decided (did they know about the parole part?).

        What I reject is that idea that a strict sentence *automatically* shows less compassion than a lenient sentence. You have to ask if then sentencer is being compassionate the victim and the community.

  15. Oh, yeah, and another thing.

    This article's rhetoric from Reason is disappointing, because they should be the moderates calling for lenity toward nonviolent offenders while throwing the book at violent thugs and killers such as Officer McBitch.

    Without any moderate voices, what's to stop "criminal justice reform" from just becoming another indiscriminate get out of jail free card for the worst offenders, especially repeat offenders and those who have committed criminal homicide?

  16. Yeah, and another nother thing - when is the ACLU going to sue the judge for giving out Bibles?

    1. I think an atheist group is already on that.

  17. Perhaps I have poor reading comprehension, but I think the racial outrage stories should do a better job of pointing out that the judge is black.

    1. Oh hell - I don't think the stories are currently capable of basic English - like the difference between 'judge hugs convicted murderer' and 'convicted murderer hugs judge'.

      We're in Germans bombed Pearl Harbor world.

  18. Her story isn't that hard to believe. My girlfriend lived on the top floor and there was no elevator. One day I climbed the stairs not paying attention and went to the wrong door. There was an old lady in the kitchen and thankfully she didn't see me. Freaked the fuck out of me that I did that. If it was a black dude I would have shot him dead.

    1. You can talk about the crimes you *could* have committed, but didn't.

      Fortunately, we're still far from the stage of enlightenment of punishing people for not inaction.

      1. for inaction.

      2. Well, what would you do if you walked into your apartment, saw a guy you've never seen before, and he replaced all of your furniture with his own and redecorated the place?

        1. Wait, you're yanking my chain, aren't you?

        2. Would a reasonable person jury regard flagrant unsolicited home makeover as a serious threat of death or grievous bodily harm justifying lethal force in self defense? I would think not.

          1. A lot of that would depend on the quality of the makeover and local tastes.

      3. Here's something I haven't heard addressed.

        I've twice been the victim of burglary.

        On both occasions my neighbor called 911 (then me) when she saw the suspected intruder enter my dwelling.

        Both times I got there moments before the police. (That's not a dig. They arrived quickly both times. I just happened to work a half mile from home.)

        On neither occasion was their lights or siren on when they arrived. (Both were daytime events)

        Also on both occasions I saw someone run out my back door before help arrived, and informed them of this they got there. (Note: I said "A" person ran out. Neither I nor my neighbor had any way of knowing how many there were.)

        On neither occasion did the police enter my home with their guns drawn.

        I sensed it might have seemed out of line to question their tactics, so instead I asked a friend of a friend to ask his neighbor - a cop - if this was unusual.

        His reply: "The day I encounter an armed home invader (aka, burglar) is the day I pack it in. The dumbest of'em knows "B & E" is probation and rehab at least twice, and MAYBE a year the third time, but that entering a private residence armed is serious business."

        This was New Jersey, not Texas, though the way he said it led me to believe it applied just about everywhere.

        The bottom line is that if the acceptable standard for the use of deadly force is "the existence of a greater than zero possibilty that they'll cause you grievous harm" God help us all - including cops.

        Actually, make that ESPECIALLY cops.

        I have no trouble understanding why cops love that society gives them an extremely wide berth.

        Nor do I have any trouble understanding society's reason for doing so.

        The typical person feels a hundred times safer while in car than while on a plane - this despite the fact that going round trip from NYC to LA
        by plane poses roughly as much danger as the drive from home to the airport.

        Similarly, that same person sees a loose cannon with a badge as posing nowhere near as much danger as a paraplegic Buddhist monk.

    2. There was an old lady in the kitchen and thankfully she didn’t see me. Freaked the fuck out of me that I did that. If it was a black dude I would have shot him dead.

      "All things being equal, I'd shoot the black guy." is an impressively racist stance.

      Seriously, I'm pretty sure there are actual Klansmen who would be ashamed to say this.

  19. America's justice system should leave more room for mercy.

    They do, but it usually seems to benefit the ones with the most political power. Such an odd coincidence.

  20. It's a justice system, not a mercy system, a rehabilitation system, or a deterrence system.

    1. OK, what's justice?
      And so what? Who says a justice system can't also involve mercy, rehabilitation and deterrence to crime.

  21. Allegedly mistook it for her apartment. There was a bright red mat in front of his door. She had a vest, a gun, a taser and pepper spray but she feared for her life?

  22. While I believe 10 years is a long time and a reasonable sentence under the circumstances, the blood lust of the public for revenge against this police officer is not coming from nowhere.
    Police and prosecutors have consistently pushed for longer and harsher sentences in America and fought against even minimal reform to sentencing reform every step of the way.
    Their longing for disproportionate revenge based justice against anyone who breaks the law has made society more coarse and less forgiving. That is what we are seeing here.
    I wish I could believe this act of mercy will have some meaningful impact on police, judges and prosecutors going forward,, but you just know the next time some civilian accidentally shoots a cop during an unannounced raid these same groups now calling for mercy will be explaining to us why anything short of the death or life in prison is too good for "the monster."
    As long as we continue to elect the least evolved among us as judges and prosecutors, mercy will remain only applicable for them.

  23. One other thing about the "too lenient" complaint.

    The average time served for murder is either just shy of 7 years or 13 years, depending on which google result you believe. so 10 years isn't an outlier. 24 years would be at the harsh end of the spectrum.

    Negligent manslaughter clocks in at 4 years.

    So, despite praying for her soul and offering her a path to redemption through a shared religion - the judge didn't actually offer up a particularly lenient sentence. More like somewhere in the middle, give or take.

    So if you believe the (ex) cop's version of the story, this is a harsh sentence. (should be less than 5 years for negligent homicide at worst). And if you believe the state's version, this is maybe slightly below average. But you have to remember, those averages include repeat offenders, murder-rapes, serial killers, etc.

    So all those chanting protesters wanting the death penalty or they'll riot are the outliers, not the judge.

    1. As I understand the reading of Texas law, Negligent Homicide does not have an intentional killing component. The component of intentionally and knowingly shooting to kill put her in Murder. She was not involved in any of the Texas law short list of felonious acts that would make it Capital Murder. The other Texas homicide category Manslaughter has the element of recklessly causing a death.

      There is reason why people are advised to get a local attorney familiar with local law, judges, jury, court precident, etc. because everything you think you know from Perry Mason and Murder, She Wrote is probably wrong.

    2. I believe the jury selected the sentence of 10 years, not the judge. Am I mistaken about that?

  24. ... the judge, Tammy Kemp, who gave Guyger a Bible, words of wisdom, and a hug before sending her on her way to prison.

    Judge Kemp gave Guyger a Bible and words of wisdom, and returned Guyger's hug before sending her off to prison.

    1. Fair enough. I agree that the judge's actions probably aren't outrage worthy.

      I honestly don't know how common it is for judges to interact with sentenced perps one on one like this, handing out bible and words of advice, etc. But if this isn't something judges normally do, I can at least understand the criticism of the judge doing it specifically for this woman who happens to be a cop.

      Again, not worth disbarring the judge or anything, but I can see how the optics are bad.

  25. What's more, Guyger's case is not a great example of police brutality . . .

    Really though?

    Here's what I know of the case - so I might be way off base because I have the facts wrong, but

    1. She's a 'trained police officer'.

    2. She came off a 'grueling' 10 hour shift. OMG, so many hours, so tired feet.

    3. Somehow managed to get to the door of the wrong apartment.

    4. Entered the apartment and because of the 'extreme exhaustion' of that 'grueling' 10 hours of work, failed to recognize that the interior of the apartment was different than hers. Which sounds to me like if police are going to fail to notice major details like this after putting in sooooo many consecutive hours then the police department needs to ensure that the shifts are shorter and no more overtime.

    5. Saw a dude sitting on the couch watching tv and, instead of resorting to her training as a police officer - including de-escalation tactics - so she could apprehend what was, at the time, a non-violent suspect, she shot his arse.

    Now, there's a whole chain of people who enabled this situation. From the police academy on to her department's chain of command, allowing an obviously mentally unready person to go out and wield the power of state violence, but still shot the dude callously.

    It'd be a different situation if she had been sitting on the couch and that dude came through the door - I'd have sympathy with someone who mistakenly shot him in that situation.

  26. Bye, bye, Goldilocks, see you in 5-10 years.

    Was that compassionate enough?

  27. It was a stunning display of mercy following a guilty verdict for the white ex-cop, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison this week for shooting and killing Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black man, after she entered his apartment, ALLEGEDLY mistaking it for her own.


    1. I'm not arguing that she should have necessarily gotten a more lenient sentence, but are you suggesting that the crime was premeditated? That she purposely went to this guy's apartment to murder him?

      I don't think even the prosecution presented that as a theory.

  28. OK. Hold it. Whoa.

    I grant that too much is illegal. I grant that many sentences are excessive. I grant that fat too many young black men get caught up in a system they cannot afterwards escape. And I grant that a lot of police and many prosecutors seem to care a great deal more about convictions than about justice.

    But please take the factoid that'We have the highest rate of incarceration' behind the bard and kill it with an axe.

    Leaving aside the question of, how do you deal with the 'incarceration rates' of countries that routinely execute criminals, what about Communist North Korea, with a 100% incarceration rate? Or the Peoples Republic of China, which rarely lets anyone out either?

    The - I can't call it a statistic - soundbite 'we have the highest incarceration rate' is codswallop. It is meant purely as an exercise in self-flagellation.

    1. Leaving aside the question of, how do you deal with the ‘incarceration rates’ of countries that routinely execute criminals, what about Communist North Korea, with a 100% incarceration rate? Or the Peoples Republic of China, which rarely lets anyone out either?

      The inverse as well. It's easy to have low incarceration rates if you let gangs, thugs, murderers, corrupt politicians, warlords, child soldiers, and cartels run your streets. Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have a lower incarceration rate than the U.S.? Yippee!

  29. our problem goes beyond excessive sentencing in terms of lack of compassion. every punishment is accompanied by a long list of additional poor treatment that is not listed on the charge sheet or the judge's order. everything is underlined by the "well, if you hadn't violated the law, you wouldn't have this problem" mindset. serving your assigned sentence is not enough, you need to be treated like shit in every aspect of the legal process. we need a LOT of improvement in the "compassion" department.

    1. Indeed, and I'd be relieved to know that real compassion (consistent with compassion for victims and community) be administered to all convicts, not just in headline-grabbing cases.

  30. Forgiveness is good for the humans doing it. Justice is good for society. You can forgive someone, but that does not mitigate the need for justice. This is a major failing of modern society. It is why the individuals involved to not preform the trial, or are part of the jury.

  31. 10 years sounds about right. It's not like it was an accident, or like she went to his apartment intending to kill him. And it's a very commendable thing to show forgiveness and compassion toward someone who has wronged you.

  32. This article misses the point somewhat.

    Overcriminalization—which I agree is a scourge and a pestilence in American society—is not an issue in the Amber Guyger case. She wasn’t convicted of some nonviolent, victimless crime; she committed a crime that damn near everyone agrees should be a crime, namely murder.

    And the apparent fact that she shot Botham Jean dead in error doesn’t get her all the way off the hook, either, IMO; she did so as a function of her own gross negligence in entering an apartment that wasn’t hers. Her belief that it was her place isn’t completely exculpatory. She doesn’t deserve execution or life imprisonment, but she doesn’t deserve a slap on the wrist, either.

    And while I respect the Jean family’s right to forgive Guyger, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with criticizing them for expressing that forgiveness in such an obsequious manner. Hugging her and telling the world you hope you can be friends with her one day—that’s doing waaaaay too much. And the fact that the judge and bailiff got in on the action, giving her a pep talk and a Bible and stroking her hair, was a frankly nauseating and arguably unethical display of bias.

    The optics of that display are atrocious, giving hypocritical right-wing politicians and pundits (who never had a forgiving bone in their bodies for criminals until now) a tool to use to deflect public attention from injustices committed against Black people by lecturing African-Americans about the supposed need for forgiveness. I don’t see anything wrong with expressing disgust at such a spectacle.

    1. Also, the whole “punishing her harshly wouldn’t bring the victim back” argument is shallow in the extreme. By that logic, we shouldn’t punish her or any other convicted killer at all, since leniency can’t resurrect a murder victim any more than draconian punishment can.

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