Judge Tammy Kemp defends giving Amber Guyger a hug, Bible in Tamron Hall interview

Amber Guyger land Judge Tammy Kemp embraced after her guilty verdict. (Photo: Tom Fox/Pool via REUTERS)

Judge Tammy Kemp is defending her actions at the end of the Amber Guyger trial in an interview on The Tamron Hall Show. Kemp, who presided over the high-profile Dallas case, gave Guyger a hug and a Bible after the fired cop was convicted of murder. Guyger, who is white, fatally shot her black neighbor, 26-year-old Botham Jean.

"You can have [my ible]. I have three or four more at home," Kemp said to Guyger in the courtroom. "This is your job for the next month. Right here, John 3:16."

While some praised the judge for her compassion, the move was also seen as controversial. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a secular Wisconsin-based organization, filed a formal complaint against Kemp asking for a judicial misconduct investigation. She addressed the criticism in her interview with Hall on Thursday’s show.

"Well, it's not as though I said, 'Ms. Guyger, you need a Bible,’" Kemp explained. "It was at [Amber's] request."

Kemp recounted a conversation she had with Guyger in the courtroom about God and forgiveness.

"[Amber] said, 'Do you think God will forgive me? ... I don't even have a Bible, I don't own a Bible, I don't know where to begin,'" the judge recalled. "In that moment I didn't want to lose Amber Guyger and so I said, 'Hold on, I'll get you a Bible.'"

Kemp retrieved a Bible from her chambers and gave it to Guyger.

"But does it get confusing when a judge behaves that way? In that, you are there for the law, not for religion," Hall asked.

"No, I was not there for the law. My legal duties had been concluded," Kemp replied, noting she has not seen any of the "brutal" comments. "My family's concerned [for my safety], but I am not."

"My faith is strong. If God brings me to it, he'll bring me through it," an emotional Kemp said to audience applause. "This is one of the reasons I'm addressing the hug so that people will understand the sum total of what happened."

Kemp once again stated it was Guyger who first brought up forgiveness, adding, "Ms. Guyger asked if I would hug her. I don't think any human being would have refused her at that moment."

The judge also defended the actions of a bailiff, who is African-American, who was mocked on social media after she appeared to brush Guyger's hair. Kemp said the bailiff was not "stroking [Amber's] hair, but actually what she's looking for is contraband or weapons. They do that to every female."

Kemp explained how Guyger had just been found guilty and was in the custody of the sheriff's department; however they were on a lunch break, so Guyger couldn't be taken to the jail to be frisked. Instead, they asked a female bailiff to check her there in the courtroom.

"If you know anything about the jail, you gotta search every part of a person, including their hair, because we have people smuggle contraband and weapons in all manner of ways," Kemp said.

"This is why we do this show. This moment went viral, this woman was mocked on social media, people said things about her — they referred to her [in ways] that were horrible," Hall said. "They assaulted her on social media and she was doing her job."

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