After a 12-member jury reached a unanimous guilty verdict of murder, former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced on Wednesday to 10 years in prison for the killing of Botham Jean, an innocent and unarmed man whom she shot dead after going to the wrong floor of her apartment complex and mistaking his apartment for hers.
Following Guyger’s sentencing, Botham’s brother, Brandt Jean, took the witness stand and spoke directly to Guyger with words that went viral on social media for its message of Christian forgiveness.
“I don’t want to say twice or for the hundredth time what you’ve or how much you’ve taken from us. I think you know that,” Brandt said. “But, I hope you go to God with all the guilt, all of the bad things you may have done in the past. Each and every one of us may have done something that we’re not supposed to do. If you truly are sorry—I know I can speak for myself—I forgive you, and I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you.”
Brandt continued by saying that he didn’t even want Guyger to go to jail.
“And I don’t think anyone can say it—again, I’m speaking for myself, not on behalf of my family—but I love you just like anyone else, and I’m not going to say I hope you rot and die just like my brother did, but I personally want the best for you,” he 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 to give your life to Christ.”
He then asked Judge Tammy Kemp, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug, please?”
At the permission of the judge, Brandt and Guyger embraced. At the end of the hearing, Judge Kemp also embraced Guyger, offering her a Bible.
Franklin Graham posted on Facebook after the hearing: “In a powerful expression of selfless love and mercy, Botham’s younger brother, 18-year-old Brandt, surprised those watching by sharing with Amber the only thing that could totally change her life forever. … That’s what the power of Jesus Christ can do in a life. The Bible tells us, ‘We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). The judge also gave Amber a priceless gift—a copy of God’s Word, the Bible.”
On Thursday, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist organization, filed an ethical complaint against the judge for her presentation of the Bible to Guyger and apparently for her verbal Gospel witness following the trial. On a video, the judge can be heard explaining John 3:16 to Guyger in the presence of her attorneys.
Hiram Sasser, general counsel at Texas-based First Liberty Institute, said of the complaint: “FFRF is protesting Judge Kemp rather than joining the rest of the nation celebrating the compassion and mercy Judge Kemp demonstrated. We should all be thankful the law allows Judge Kemp’s actions and we stand with her and will gladly lead the charge in defending her noble and legal actions.”
Guyger’s sentence begins immediately, and she could be eligible for parole in five years.
Above: Botham Jean’s younger brother Brandt Jean hugs convicted murderer and former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger after delivering his impact statement to her after she was sentenced to 10 years in jail, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, in Dallas.
Photo: Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool