Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger’s shooting of Black man Botham Jean, after she allegedly mistook his apartment for her own and him as an intruder, has sparked grief and outrage. However, her emotional trial and sentencing have sparked even more controversy. Judge Tammy Kemp is now coming under fire for gifting Guyger a Bible at her sentencing. The Freedom of Religion Foundation filed a complaint against Kemp, saying she overstepped her boundaries as a person representing the U.S. government.
At the end of Guyger’s trial, Guyger received a hug from Kemp after Jean’s brother, Brandt Jean, offered her forgiveness and a hug amid his testimony.
As Kemp gave Guyger the Bible, she said, “This is the one I use every day. This is your job for the next month. It says right here. John 3:16. And this is where you start. ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life …'”
The Freedom of Religion Foundation claimed Kemp crossed a line from using her faith as a private citizen to show compassion, to using her power as a government employee to coercively evangelize.
“We, too, believe our criminal justice system needs more compassion from judges and prosecutors,” the complaint said. “But here, compassion crossed the line into coercion. And there can be few relationships more coercive than a sentencing judge in a criminal trial and a citizen accused and convicted of a crime.”
The Foundation is asking for an investigation into the matter.
The compassion Guyger was met with was moving to some, but Kemp, Jean and Guyger’s emotional embraces had many asking whether a Black person charged with murdering a white woman would have the same treatment.
If a black dude got convicted of murdering a blonde girl and the judge came off the bench, hugged him & gave him a Bible…this country would go ballistic! They haven’t even 4given #Kaepernick yet & he ain’t killed nobody. #BothamJean #AmberGuyger #TeamDl #DLHughleyShow @tvonetv
— DL Hughley (@RealDLHughley) October 8, 2019
When a video emerged of a Black bailiff stroking Guyger’s hair after she was found guilty, more people spoke out on the affectionate, kind treatment she received, while Kemp defended the bailiff, saying she was simply checking Guyger’s hair for contraband because she had spent the night in jail.
What the hell man? She’s stroking Amber’s hair after she was found guilty of murder. Some of us are still slaves. That’s why WS don’t want us speaking about black empowerment. They don’t want their slaves to finally be set free. #AmberGuyger pic.twitter.com/y1sLGwjUgB
— African Diaspora News Channel (@AfrDiasporaNews) October 1, 2019
In an interview with CNN, Kemp said she did not believe she would be getting criticized for hugging Guyger if Guyger were Black.
The issue is if Guyger were Black, she likely would not have gotten the same merciful treatment at all.
Cyntoia Brown, who was tried as an adult at 16 for killing a man who tried to rape her after being trafficked and abused by a pimp — served a 15-year prison sentence, no hugs or Bibles offered. Guyger’s sentence is only 10 years.
Related Story: Cyntoia Brown is Free After Spending 15 Years in Prison
Statistically, Black people receive sentences that are around 10% longer than those of white people convicted of similar crimes, according to a study by the University of Michigan Law School.
With Joshua Brown, the key witness in the trial, being ambushed and shot over the weekend, discussions about the preferential treatment Guyger received amid these violent deaths continue.