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Judge Tammy Kemp explains why she consoled Amber Guyger following her sentencing

“How can you refuse this woman a hug?” Judge Kemp asked.

Judge Tammy Kemp
The New York Times

Following Amber Guyger’s 10-year prison sentence for the fatal shooting of Botham Jean, the former Dallas policewoman was consoled by Judge Tammy Kemp. Despite the backlash, Judge Kemp does not regret her decision.

While speaking with The New York Times, Judge Kemp reasoned that she aims to treat everyone with dignity and respect. Judge Kemp recalled Guyger asking for guidance on how to redeem herself following a horrific act.

“She asked me if I thought her life could have purpose,” Judge Kemp recalled. “I said, ‘I know that it can.’ She said, ‘I don’t know where to start, I don’t have a Bible.’” After that, Judge Kemp reached for her Bible and read a verse that would console Guyger.

In the past, Judge Kemp stated that it’s not unusual for her to hug those who are hurting. However, Kemp explained that she would hug the defendants after successfully completing probation or drug treatment. “The act that she committed was horrific — she murdered Mr. Jean,” Judge Kemp said. “But none of us are one thing that we’ve done.”

More recently, The Freedom of Religion Foundation filed a formal complaint against Kemp. “We write to raise your awareness of Judge Kemp’s actions at the close of the trial — during which she gifted a Christian bible, instructing the convicted criminal on how to read the bible and which passages to pay attention to, and witnessing to that convicted murderer. These proselytizing actions overstepped judicial authority, were inappropriate and were unconstitutional,” the complaint states.

Throughout the trial, Guyger expressed remorse over her actions. “I ask God for forgiveness, and I hate myself every single day,” Guyger said in the courtroom. “I wish he was the one with the gun who had killed me. I never wanted to take an innocent person’s life.”

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