Amazing Love And Forgiveness.

Amber Guyger (left) and Botham Jean (right)

You may have been following the tragic story of former police officer Amber Guyger who shot and Botham Jean while Jean was sitting in his apartment.

Amber Guyger was still in uniform and returning to her apartment after a long day of work. Somehow, Guyer parked on the wrong floor of the parking garage and after exiting her vehicle, she found what she thought was her apartment door open. Guyer pulled her weapon, and entered the apartment of one Botham Jean, who was sitting on his couch watching TV. Jean stood up, took a step toward Guyer who once again was in his apartment and was shot by Guyer.

There are lots of questions about this case that will never be adequately answered. How did Guyger miss the fact that she parked on the wrong floor of the garage? How did she walk down the hall of what she thought was her floor without noticing that doors were decorated differently? Jean had a red foot mat outside of his door. Guyger did not. When you walk into an apartment and nothing is familiar to you, how do you miss that fact? Guyger was “sexting” at the time she was entering coming home, and instead of calling for emergency assistance to help the dying Jean, she texted her former partner and paramour. What is even more baffling to us is that Guyger was a member of the Dallas Police Department SWAT team. Is Guyger indicative of the people in that unit as clearly she lacked some sort of situational awareness as to her surroundings. Even is one were to say she was focused on the “threat” in front of her, wouldn’t that have put her at risk from other threats in the apartment if she were so target fixated on Jean?

We don’t think that Guyger woke up that day and at some point decided that after work she would go home, park on the wrong floor, miss clues that she was on the wrong apartment floor, miss clues that she wasn’t in her apartment and then shoot some guy who was peacefully in his own apartment and being confronted by a female officer with a drawn gun.

While there may have not been intent, certainly Guyger’s actions lead directly to the death of Botham Jean. That’s a crime and Guyger was convicted by a jury after 5 hours of deliberations. She was facing 99 years in prison, but eventually was sentenced to 10 years in jail and is eligible for parole after 5 years. The sentencing occurred after the victim impact statements which is really the point of this post.

(Of course, people made this case out to be another instance of a white cop shooting a black man, but in the end, we don’t think that narrative holds up. While Guyger certainly missed all the signs and was distracted by sexting, we wonder how people would react if they returned to what they thought was their home and found someone else in it.)

Once convicted, the penalty phase of the trial went forward with family members making impact statements on how the loss of Jean would affect their lives. Impact statements are always emotional and often are a plea for vengeance and we certainly understand that.

But then Jean’s younger brother Brandt took the stand to give his impact statement.

What followed was an amazing display of love, hope and forgiveness.

After a day of testimony focused on how long Guyger would spend in prison, Jean’s 18-year-old brother said in his victim-impact statement that he wished she didn’t have to serve any time at all.

Instead, he said, he wanted for Guyger what his older brother would have wanted.

“I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want for you,” he told her. “I love you as a person, and I don’t wish anything bad on you.”

“Can I give her a hug, please?” Brandt Jean asked. “Please.”

As soon as the judge said it was OK, Guyger rushed to the victim’s brother and wrapped her arms around him. They held each other in a long embrace, while sobbing could be heard in the courtroom. State District Judge Tammy Kemp wiped away tears during the moment.

It didn’t end there.

The jury was gone. So was Guyger’s family. Only bailiffs, the attorneys, the Jean family, the judge and a handful of journalists remained.

Kemp wiped away tears, and sobs could be heard in the courtroom.

Jean walked out of the courtroom when he was done. His father, Bertrum, smiled and nodded, giving his son a thumbs-up. Brandt and Botham’s mother, Allison Jean, was in tears.

Kemp then left, too, through a door behind her bench. She soon re-emerged through another door, the one the jury always used to enter and exit. She walked over to the Jean family and hugged them.

“I’m so sorry,” she said to each of them. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you for the way you modeled Christ,” Kemp told Allison Jean.

But Kemp wasn’t done.

She walked over in front of the defense table where Guyger still sat.

Kemp crouched in front of Guyger, still wearing her black robe and gave her a Bible. Those watching on the internet could see the judge and Guyger. But they couldn’t hear what happened.

They spoke quietly, with Guyger in tears and Kemp punctuated the conversation by gesturing at the Bible and saying, “Read this.”

Guyger leaped up to hug Kemp. The judge paused for a second, unsure of what to do.

Then, Tammy Kemp embraced Guyger, who whispered in her ear.

Only the judge’s responses were heard: “Ma’am, it’s not because I am good. It’s because I believe in Christ. None of us are worthy.”

“Forgive yourself.”

Attorneys, bailiffs and journalists wiped away tears as they watched Jean and Guyger hug and as then leaned in to hear Kemp’s words. A box of tissues was passed around.

They noted — with puffy faces and red noses — that they had never before cried in court. That they had never seen anything quite like what had just happened.

And that, chances are, they never would again.

There is a lot of anger in this world and sometimes we display it here on Raised On Hoecakes. Brandt Jean’s simple, yet incredibly difficult words and actions of love and forgiveness makes us wonder if we would have that same grace, compassion, forgiveness and love if someone killed someone we loved.

We may ponder that more as soon as we finish wiping away our tears.

One thing is clear….

We need more Brandt Jeans in this world.

One Response to “Amazing Love And Forgiveness.”

  1. Carla says:

    I believe Amber Guyger is remorseful. Even so, Brandt Jean’s love and forgiveness is amazing. I couldn’t help but cry when I watched the video. What a testament to his faith!

  2. […] other day we wrote about the remarkable story of Brandt Jean, the 18 year old younger brother of Bothom Jean who was shot and killed by off duty police officer […]