The judge who oversaw Amber Guyger’s murder trial says her family is concerned for her safety given the backlash she received for hugging the killer cop and giving her a Bible.
Judge Tammy Kemp faced harsh criticism after she embraced Guyger earlier this month in the moments after the Dallas cop was convicted of murdering her neighbor Botham Jean.
Kemp has repeatedly defended her decision to hug Guyger given it became one of the more controversial moments from the high-profile murder trial.
In an interview on the Tamron Hall Show on Thursday, Kemp was asked if she feared for her safety given the criticism surrounding the hug.
‘My family is concerned but I am not,’ Kemp said.
She added tearfully: ‘My faith is strong. If God brings me to it, he’ll bring me through it. That’s one of the reasons I’m discussing the hug.’
Judge Tammy Kemp faced harsh criticism after she embraced Amber Guyger earlier this month in the moments after the Dallas cop was convicted of murdering her neighbor Botham Jean
In an interview on the Tamron Hall Show on Thursday, Kemp was asked if she feared for her safety given the criticism surrounding the hug. She said: ‘My family is concerned but I am not’
Critics have said Kemp’s embrace of Guyger was inappropriate and deeply offensive to the victim’s family.
One group has asked for a judicial misconduct investigation and some activists have said the hug took the focus off justified anger at a police killing.
Kemp, however, said the hug was at Guyger’s request and she felt she couldn’t refuse.
‘At the conclusion of every violent trial, I always go over and talk to the victim’s family. I usually ask them if I could hug them. I did that with Botham Jean’s family. We hugged and we embraced,’ Kemp said.
‘I was turning to exit and I saw Ms Guyger.’
Kemp said she told Guyger that she wanted her to live a purposeful life, which is something she does with every person she sends to prison.
Kemp said Guyger asked twice if she could hug her and, after a moment’s hesitation, the judge wrapped her arms around her.
‘Ms Guyger asked for a hug… I don’t think any human being would have refused her,’ Kemp said.
She added that she didn’t know the cameras were still on and she didn’t think about the possible reaction.
When she was speaking to Guyger, Kemp said the killer cop had told her she didn’t know how to begin seeking God’s forgiveness and asked if the judge thought her life would still have purpose.
‘She said “I don’t even own a Bible”. In that moment I didn’t want to lose Amber Guyger. I went to my chambers and retrieved my Bible,’ Kemp said.
Kemp was pictured handing Guyger her own personal Bible before she was taken away to begin her prison sentence.
‘My legal duty had concluded. I was just a person responding to a person in need,’ Kemp said.
Amber Guyger (left) was found guilty for the September 2018 murder of Botham Jean (right). The 26-year-old victim was sitting in his living room, eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream when Guyger walked into his home and shot him
Kemp, who handed Guyger her own personal Bible before she was taken away to begin her prison sentence last week, said it was the first time she had done so
She said she had never previously acknowledged her Christian faith to a defendant or given one a Bible, but Guyger had said she didn’t have one at the end of her trial
She has previously said it was the first time she has done that and revealed her Christian beliefs to a defendant.
Kemp was asked about a potential appeal and whether she would fairly be able to preside over the case given her interactions with Guyger.
‘Every day I separate emotion from fact,’ she said, adding she would understand why one party or another would instead want to recuse her.
A jury found Guyger guilty of murder earlier this month for shooting Jean in his home, which the off-duty cop said she mistook for her own.
The scenes from inside the courtroom when Guyger was sentenced for the September 2018 shooting death of Jean quickly prompted widespread reaction.
The victim’s 18-year-old brother Brandt Jean left the courtroom stunned when he asked Judge Kemp if he could give Guyger a hug.
In an astonishing act of compassion, Brandt hugged his brother’s killer and told her he didn’t want to see her jailed.
‘If you truly are sorry, I forgive you. I know if you go to God and ask him he will forgive you,’ Brandt said to Guyger in the courtroom when he was allowed to deliver a victim impact statement.
‘I love you just like anyone else. I’m not going to say I hope you rot and die just like my brother did. I want the best for you. I don’t even want you to go to jail.’
Judge Kemp then embraced the victim’s mother before she was pictured also hugging Guyger.
Court bailiff criticized for stroking Amber Guyger’s hair was actually searching for contraband, judge says
During her interview with Tamron Hall on Thursday, Kemp clarified an incident during Guyger’s trial that saw a court bailiff heavily criticized by some on social media.
After the cop was found guilty of murder, a black female bailiff could be seen touching Guyger’s hair as she sat alone, weeping at the defense table.
The bailiff was slammed on social media for appearing to comfort Guyger after the verdict.
However, Kemp explained that the bailiff was actually just doing her job.
Judge Kemp said a court bailiff who was pictured touching Guyger’s hair after the verdict was actually frisking her for contraband
‘Ms Guyger had been found guilty. She was in the custody of the sheriff’s department. We were on a lunch break. I couldn’t send her to the jail to be frisked,’ Kemp said.
‘She was accused of stroking her hair but she was actually searching her for contraband.’
Guyger was sentenced later that day to 10 years in prison for Jean’s shooting death.
The 31-year-old was off-duty from the Dallas Police Department but still in uniform when she fatally shot the 26-year-old accountant in his own home in September 2018.
Guyger said she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own, which was one floor below, and that she thought he was an intruder when she opened fire.
Following an emotional six-day trial, prosecutors had urged the jury to give a punishment of no less than 28 years, which is how old Jean would have been if he was still alive.
Guyger’s defense attorneys had asked them to show leniency because she believed she was in her own apartment and acted out of fear.