In one of the most powerful moments seen in an American court in decades, the younger brother of Botham Jean, the young black man who was mistakenly shot and killed by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger when she thought he was in her apartment, told Guyger after she was sentenced to 10 years in prison that he forgave her and hoped the court would not send her to jail, asked the judge if he could hug her, and asked that she devote her life to Jesus Christ.
Brandt Jean said emotionally, “I wasn’t ever going to say this in front of my family or anyone, but I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want you to do. And the best would be to give your life to Christ. I’m not going to say anything else. I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do. Again, I love you as a person and I don’t wish anything bad on you.”
After taking several heavy breaths, he turned to the judge and said, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug, please? Please?
After a moment, the judge answered, “Yes.” Brandt Jean got up from his seat and he and Guyger met in a hug as many people in the court openly wept.
The New York Times reported, “A Dallas County jury deliberated for about an hour and a half before deciding upon a sentence that was well short of the maximum 99 years in prison Ms. Guyger could have received — but also longer than the two years jurors might have imposed. Prosecutors had asked for a prison term of no shorter than 28 years, the age that Mr. Jean, whose birthday fell during the trial, would have been if he were alive today.”
In September 2018, Guyger, who was off-duty, had entered the apartment one floor directly above hers, which was Botham Jean’s, and thought there was an intruder. She opened fire, killing Botham Jean.
As The Dallas News reported, outside the courtroom, there was anger over the verdict. Chants of “No justice, no peace,” were heard, as well as Dee Crane, the mother of Tavis Crane, who was shot by an Arlington police officer in 2017, crying, “How many of us does it take to get justice? What about my son? What about Botham Jean? How many of us is it going to take before you understand that our lives matter?” Rev. Michael Waters of of Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in south Dallas, echoed, “It’s amazing how quickly injustice can be seized from the hands of justice. This is a travesty.”
But inside the courtroom, the atmosphere was quite different; Judge Tammy Kemp, who wept when Brandt Jean and Guyger hugged, herself hugged Guyger as Guyger whispered in her ear. Kemp answered quietly, “Ma’am, it’s not because I am good. It’s because I believe in Christ. None of us are worthy. Forgive yourself.”
Kemp told the Jean family, “Thank you for the way you modeled Christ. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for your loss.”
— FOX 4 NEWS (@FOX4) October 2, 2019