In September 6, 2018, Dallas Texas, Amber Guyger shot Botham Jean, her neighbor when she entered his apartment, thinking it was her own. She saw Botham as a threat, as an intruder, when in fact she had made a common mistake of navigation, that ended in an uncommon result and more unusual end to her trial.
Guyger, the former 31-year-old police officer, was sentenced to ten years in prison. The family of the 26-year-old victim stood outside the courtroom after the trial and claimed the prosecutor had asked for a longer sentence. They had asked initially for at least 28 years, which is how old Botham would be if he were here. I agree partially in the fact that ten years seems a little lenient with the committed crime, and it should have been at least half of how old Botham was at the time of his death. However, many are more concerned as to what went on inside the courtroom.
During the case, Botham’s younger brother, Brandt Jean, spoke directly to Guyger as he sat up in the stand. His family claims that Brandt had been the one to be dealing with the situation the hardest, no longer having his big brother around. He kept his heart and mind open, though, announcing to Guyger that he forgives her and says, “I love you as a person and I don’t wish anything bad on you.”
Hearing this coming from the younger brother of the man murdered only a year ago, everyone was shocked. What really stunned everyone, though, was his request afterwards to give Guyger a hug. He requested it to the judge, and after permission, he and the woman whom killed his brother, met in the front of the courtroom. They embraced each other, and for a little while, all that could be heard in the room were quiet sobs. The two were hugging, crying, and in a way -I think- attempting to comfort each other.
This emotional scene had sent many in the courtroom shedding tears, including the judge, Tammy Kemp. After the trial, she hugged the Jean family members individually before making her way to Guyger. After giving her a bible, Kemp hugged her as well.
It’s moments like these we should pay more attention to; not the fact that it was a female white ex-officer who shot a young black man, not the commotion it stirred up about race and color, not the debates it started on more police brutality… Moments in which we recognize each other as humans. As people.
Brandt recognized Guyger as a human, as someone who makes mistakes, just like the rest of us. Yes, this was a bit of a big mistake, but that is what the punishment is for; it’s encouragement to not repeat those mistakes or make more, whether they’re conscious or unconsciously decided. It took a lot of guts, a lot of soul, and a lot of heart for Brandt to push past the racial status that our world seems to live by now days, and to find space in his heart to forgive someone of doing such a thing. I’m sure his brother would be proud of his decision. In my opinion, many of us need to be a little more like Brandt Jean.