In today’s climate of polarization and division, it’s extremely rare to witness a genuine moment of total forgiveness and empathy. It’s almost unheard of to see one of those moments take place in a crowded courtroom.
However, on Tuesday, in a touching moment that has now gone viral, we got to see exactly that.
In one of the most powerfully emotional moments in recent memory, a young black man, addressing his brother’s white killer during a victim-impact statement, stepped down and embraced her in a gesture of forgiveness.
Details Of The Case
Last September, Amber Guyger, a Dallas police officer, returned home after a day at work and headed into her apartment. What she didn’t realize was that she had accidentally exited the stairwell on the wrong floor, and the apartment she was entering was not hers, but rather the apartment directly above hers. That apartment belonged to a 27-year-old man named Botham Jean.
When Guyger saw Jean in the apartment, she mistakenly thought he was an intruder in her own apartment, and, acting on instinct, she drew her gun and opened fire. Jean was shot and killed, and it was only after the shooting stopped that Guyger realized her mistake.
The police arrived on the scene, an official investigation began, and Guyger was taken into custody a short time later. She was eventually charged with murder.
The shooting made national headlines, and news outlets were quick to spin the tragedy to fit a variety of narratives, ranging from gun control and police brutality to race relations and cultural biases.
However, in the media frenzy, the heartbreaking stories of the individuals affected by the shooting were largely lost.
But on Tuesday, Jean’s younger brother Brandt reminded the world just how personal the situation really was.
Forgiveness On Display
After several hours of deliberation, the jury found Guyger guilty of murder, and she was subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison. Given that Guyger could have been facing up to 99 years, the sentence was shockingly light, and many people gathered outside the courthouse awaiting the verdict were extremely upset. Thanks to the mix of hot-button issues wrapped up in the trial, many in the Dallas community saw the reduced sentence as a complete injustice.
Inside the courtroom, though, the atmosphere was much more somber.
While giving his victim-impact statement, Brandt Jean surprised everyone by saying that he wished Guyger didn’t have to serve time at all. Instead, he expressed his sympathy for her and said that he wanted the best for her, as he knew his brother would have.
Brandt, who comes from a devout Christian family, told Guyger that “I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want for you. I love you as a person, and I don’t wish anything bad on you.”
Then, turning to the judge, he asked, “Can I give her a hug, please?”
When permission was granted, Brandt left the witness stand and embraced Guyger, with many people in the courtroom weeping openly at the sight.
Brandt’s gesture of kindness was met with mixed reactions after the trial concluded. While some saw it as a touching moment and a perfect example of Christianity at its finest, others were critical of his willingness to overlook Guyger’s wrongdoings and thought he was excusing her of responsibility for the shooting.
Despite the stir his actions caused, Brandt has continued to stand behind his decision to forgive Guyger. In an interview with ABC News, he said “each and every one [of us] has steps to get towards actually forgiving. I probably went through those faster than other people… If you are trying to forgive her, understand that she is a human being.”
Watch the full video HERE:
— FOX 4 NEWS (@FOX4) October 2, 2019