AP

Judge says she couldn’t refuse convicted ex-cop a hug

Oct 7, 2019, 1:37 PM
State District Judge Tammy Kemp gives former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger a hug before Guyger...
State District Judge Tammy Kemp gives former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger a hug before Guyger leaves for jail, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, in Dallas. Guyger, who said she mistook neighbor Botham Jean's apartment for her own and fatally shot him in his living room, was sentenced to a decade in prison. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)
(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 neighbor 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 neighbor, 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.

Guyger, 31, had just worked a long shift and was still in her uniform when she entered Jean’s apartment and shot the 26-year-old accountant, who grew up in the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia. She testified that she had mistaken his fourth-floor apartment for her own, which was directly underneath his, and that she thought he was an intruder.

After Guyger was sentenced and the jury left the courtroom, Jean’s brother, Brandt Jean, was allowed to address Guyger directly from the witness stand. He told her he forgave her and that Botham would have wanted her to devote her life to Christianity before the two shared a tearful embrace. Soon after that, Kemp walked over to the defense table to speak with Guyger, who she said went through a “marked change” after the verdict.

Botham Jean’s younger brother Brandt Jean hugs convicted murderer and former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger after delivering his impact statement to her after she was sentenced to 10 years in jail, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, in Dallas. Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean, an unarmed 26-year-old neighbor in his own apartment last year. She told police she thought his apartment was her own and that he was an intruder. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

Kemp said that Guyger asked twice if she could hug her as well and, after a moment’s hesitation, the judge wrapped her arms around the former police officer.

“Following my own convictions, I could not refuse that woman a hug. I would not,” said Kemp, who is black. “And I don’t understand the anger. And I guess I could say if you profess religious beliefs and you are going to follow them, I would hope that they not be situational and limited to one race only.”

Kemp said she doesn’t know “the state of Ms. Guyger’s Christianity, if she’s even a Christian.” But she said she pointed Guyger to a Bible passage about God’s love “so that she could recognize that, even given the fact that she murdered someone, God still loves her.”

Last week, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a secular Wisconsin-based group that routinely files lawsuits challenging religious displays in government, said Kemp was proselytizing from the bench and filed a complaint with a Texas agency that investigates allegations of judicial misconduct.

Kemp defended her actions as appropriate Monday, saying they took place after the legal proceeding was over and were not part of the official trial record.

“I didn’t do that from the bench,” she said. “I came down to extend my condolences to the Jean family and to encourage Ms. Guyger because has a lot of life to live.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team. here.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

a man is pictured playing call of duty...
The Associated Press

FTC sues to block Microsoft-Activision Blizzard $69B merger

The FTC’s complaint points to Microsoft’s previous game acquisitions where Microsoft made some game titles exclusive despite assuring it wouldn't.
17 hours ago
Respect for Marriage Act...
MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press

Bill protecting same-sex, interracial unions passes House

President Joe Biden is expected to promptly sign the measure, which requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages, a relief for many.
17 hours ago
a small boy recieves a COVID-19 vaccine in China...
JOE McDONALD Associated Press

China eases anti-COVID measures following protests

Experts warn, however, that restrictions can’t be lifted completely until at least mid-2023 because millions of elderly people still must be vaccinated.
2 days ago
A memorial is pictured near the scene of the Colorado shooting at Club Q...
COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press

Colorado gay club shooting suspect charged with hate crimes

Investigators say Anderson Lee Aldrich entered Club Q, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city, just before midnight on Nov. 19.
3 days ago
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
10 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Judge says she couldn’t refuse convicted ex-cop a hug