Most Americans have heard the complicated accounts of former Dallas Cop Amber Guyger who was recently convicted of mistakenly gunning down her neighbor.
Guyger had testified that she’d just completed a double shift with the Dallas Police Department, entering Botham Jean’s apartment by accident and fatally shooting Botham after mistaking him for an intruder.
Until last week, no one had reason to be acquainted with the shooting victim’s brother, Brandt Jean. Until last week, no one could have speculated the aftermath of the emotionally charged trial and subsequent conviction.
The results and reactions in the wake of the trial are nothing short of astounding.
At the mere age of 18, Brandt quickly demonstrated before the world his selfless forgiveness in the midst of adversity. After State District Judge Tammy Kemp handed down a 10-year sentence to Guyger, no one anticipated Brandt offering his brother’s convicted killer that warm, momentous, gentle embrace. In those incredulous moments, Brandt exhibited to our nation, the incredible semblance of mercy. That unexpected act of forgiveness certainly did not condone Guyger’s daunting miscarriage of justice; however, it did attest to Brandt’s Christian consciousness and eternal faith.
Not only was Brandt granted permission to hug the former Dallas cop, but his thoughtful gestures deeply impacted Judge Kemp and the nation at large.
Footage from Brandt’s testimony quickly went viral — precipitating a courtroom filled with gasps, inconsolable sobs and expressions of astonishment. Judge Kemp was visibly shaken, embracing the fallen victim’s mother, subsequently hugging the convicted felon, and passing her a Bible.
What some viewers found remarkable were the teenager’s insightful, discerning reasons for forgiving. During appearances on major networks, the spiritually mature teen credited his unexpected, unprecedented forgiveness to his Christian upbringing. Having been born to Bertram Jean — a St. Lucian minister — and mother, Alison, he and his siblings had been saturated in Biblical teachings. In fact, their parents had even symbolically given each of their children a Biblical middle name. His late brother was Botham Shem named for a son of Noah, and Brandt Samuel, named after the Old Testament prophet.
When interviewed, the Harding University freshman humbly defended his pardon of Guyger — explaining how he “wakes up happy in the morning,” and he wants to “live happy later in his life.” The young man told the former cop that he didn’t want to go through life hating her; Brandt said he genuinely wished her nothing but the best. He told newscasters that — in order for him to get past Botham’s mistaken death and to attain peace of mind — he had to grant forgiveness.
Perhaps the younger brother was attesting to advice administered by the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who said one must “develop and maintain the capacity to forgive.” Dr. King poignantly admonished his congregants, “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”
Brandt Jean proved that he clearly is not devoid of the power to forgive, nor the power to love. What an incredible testimony by an 18-year-old.
Kim Lambert is a former reporter with The Daily Record and former editor of The Angier Independent.