'Forgiveness' is Trending After Moment Botham Jean's Brother Hugged Police Officer Who Killed Him And Told Her: 'I Don't Even Want You To Go To Jail'

Cries could be heard from across the courtroom as the brother of Botham Jean, the black 26-year-old accountant who was shot and killed by a white Dallas police officer who mistook his apartment for her own, got up from the stand to embrace his brother's killer and offer her a priceless gift: his forgiveness.

In an emotional statement, 18-year-old Brandt Jean told former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for Botham's death, that if she was "truly sorry...I forgive you. And, I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you too."

Brandt said that while he could not speak on behalf of his family, he wanted to offer Guyger his personal forgiveness, saying: "I love you just like anyone else and I'm not gonna say I hope you rot and die, just like my brother did, but I personally want the best for you."

"I wasn't gonna ever say this in front of my family or anyone, but I don't even want you to go to jail," Brandt said. "I want the best for you because I know that's exactly what Botham would want you to do and the best would be, give your life to Christ...Again, I love you as a person and I don't wish anything bad on you," he stressed.

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After delivering his statement, Brandt then asked the judge whether he could rise from his seat and give Guyger a hug. With the judge's approval, he made his way down from the stand, as Guyger rushed to embrace him.

Despite Brandt's best wishes, however, Guyger will face justice for his brother's death, with a jury sentencing the former Dallas police officer to a decade in prison.

Botham had been sitting on his couch watching television and eating vanilla ice cream when Guyger shot him on the evening of September 6, 2018.

Guyger said she had mistaken Botham's apartment for her own that night, after she went to the wrong floor in their building in central Dallas.

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Claiming to have believed Botham was an intruder in her home, Guyger, who was off-duty, but still in uniform, admitted to firing two shots from her service weapon, hitting the 26-year-old once in the chest.

Brandt's message of forgiveness on Wednesday came just over a year after the night his brother died.

In the hours following that emotional moment in court, the word "forgiveness" began trending on Twitter, but for different reasons.

While some celebrated Brandt's act, more still said Guyger does not deserve his forgiveness–and that offering it could set a "terrible precedent."

"I respect forgiveness. But Botham Jean's brother just further bailed Amber Guyger out after the judicial system already did that for her," said writer Frederick Joseph.

"He continued a terrible precedent of Black people not holding white people accountable and that expectation being placed on the community," Joseph said.

While Rev. Cornell William Brooks, a minister and civil rights lawyer who serves as a Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School, said he has deep admiration for "forgiveness from the family," he was disturbed by the "lack of accountability."

"Police brutalize Black people without fear of being charged, convicted or subject to consent decrees. REJOICE at the lack of accountability," he said.

"As a young minister, I learned to serve communion & say 'God has forgiven you, go in peace," he said. "I hoped worshippers would forgive themselves & others. I NEVER imagined the capacity of Black folks to forgive would be misused as a benediction for police brutality."

In an interview with Newsweek, Brooks expanded on his statements, asserting that Guyger's 10-year-sentence already "seems to send the wrong signal."

"The signal it sends is not that black lives matter, but that black lives either don't matter or matter less."

"You have black people who have received 10 years for selling marijuana. She gets 10 years for killing a person," he said. "The message that this sentence sends is that, literally, your life is worth nothing on the street and less than nothing in your own home."

Those celebrating Brandt's gesture towards his brother's killer, Brooks said, should understand that his act of forgiveness "says everything about his character and nothing about hers."

"She wasn't given forgiveness based on what she deserved, but, rather, what Brandt Jean thought she needed, according to his faith," he said. "So, in other words, forgiveness here is not something that she purchased by virtue of her character, but rather something she was given by virtue of the character of Botham Jean's brother."

"The danger, however, here, is that the forgiveness of black folks is used as a permission slip for police brutality, a permission slip for racial profiling and a permission slip for racial disparities," Brooks said.

Bishop Talbert Swan, an author and talk show host, also spoke out about the exchange on Wednesday, asserting that he felt compelled to tweet because a "family is suffering because a racist cop murdered their loved ones."

"It's you colonizing white supremacists who cause Black suffering," Swan said.

He then took aim at people, and in particular, white people, trying to counter the argument that Brandt's actions may have done more harm than good, writing: "How about you stop policing Black peoples' tweets & telling them how to respond to another traumatizing moment in their history?"

During a tearful testimony last week, Guyger maintained that she had "never wanted to take an innocent person's life, adding: "I'm so sorry."

Denying accusations of racism, she asserted that the night she killed Botham was "not about hate. It's about being scared that night."

Whether racism was a factor in Guyger's decision to shoot Botham or not, his family stressed her actions came at the cost of a life: a beloved brother and son who would have turned 28 this week, had she not killed him.

In her own testimony, Botham's mother, Allison Jean, said she has endured "the most terrible time" since losing her son. "I cannot sleep. I cannot eat," she said, dressed in red, Botham's favorite color.

For Allison, Guyger's 10 years in prison will be "for her reflection and for her to change her life," but, for real justice to be done, it is the city of Dallas and its police department that needs to grow, she said.

"If Amber Guyger was trained not to shoot in the heart, my son would be standing here today," she said. "He was no threat to her. He had no reason to cause a threat to her because he was in his own apartment, in his sanctuary."

"His privacy was violated, she intruded on him, and that was not enough—she killed him."

This article has been updated with statements from Cornell William Brooks.

Botham Jean family
The family of Botham Jean, the 26-year-old accountant who was shot dead in his own home after a former Dallas police officer mistook his apartment for her own, speak at Greenville Avenue Church of Christ after the funeral service on September 13, 2018 in Richardson, Texas. Stewart F. House/Getty
'Forgiveness' is Trending After Moment Botham Jean's Brother Hugged Police Officer Who Killed Him And Told Her: 'I Don't Even Want You To Go To Jail' | U.S.