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'No Justice:' At Dallas Rally, Outrage Over Amber Guyger's 10-Year Prison Sentence

“No justice! No peace!”

The familiar chant was prompted by what protesters saw as a sentence too light for the murder of an innocent black man in his own apartment.

Credit Caroline Cluiss / KERA News

About 100 people rallied Wednesday evening to protest the 10-year prison sentence given to Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer found guilty of murder in the fatal shooting of Botham Jean. Guyger, who's white, said she mistook his home for her own.

The group gathered on the steps of the Dallas County courthouse, where the trial had been held. 

Dominique Alexander led the chant.

He says the guilty verdict “was a step in the right direction."

Perhaps tempering the outrage was the statement Wednesday by Botham Jean’s brother, Brandt, who forgave Guyger, then hugged her in the courtroom. Many were moved to tears.

At the rally, Omar Suleiman, a Dallas imam, mentioned that moment.

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
Omar Suleiman is a Dallas imam. He said the "grace" of Botham Jean's brother, Brandt, who forgave Amber Guyger, need not quiet the words of Botham's mother, who demanded continued reform of the Dallas Police Department.

“If you are going to amplify the grace of Brandt Jean, then you better amplify the voice of his mother who said only a few minutes after that, that we need to continue to seek reform of the Dallas Police Department,” Suleiman said. “We do not see forgiveness and accountability in contradiction.”

Suleiman and others accused the Dallas police of long-standing corruption and racism.

Gregory Demus, an African American health care worker from Dallas, stood watching the protest. As a teenager, he says he was pulled over for driving under the influence, but he hadn’t been drinking. Now 52, he says he was pulled over last month.

“Nine cops showed up because I had a taillight out?” Demus said. “He wanted me to sit down in the wet ground on the floor. I said ‘No, I’m not going to sit on that wet curb. I’ll stand right here in the car in front of you with your officer watching me.’ They treat you bad, the Dallas Police Department does.”

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
Gregory Demus is a Dallas healthcare worker who's seen corruption of the Dallas Police.

Addressing reporters Wednesday evening, Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall ordered a review of incidents brought up by the trial.

She says she was concerned by testimony during the trial that police officers had tampered with evidence, including shutting off a video camera inside the police vehicle transporting Guyger after the shooting.

"I acknowledge that there are things that we need to change, there are areas of concern that we need to address, and I pledge that we will make those changes,” Hall said.

Hall pledged to work to rebuild trust between the department and community members, and said the department is always evaluating itself for ways to improve.

KERA's Christopher Connelly contributed to this report.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.