The now-famous hug between Amber Guyger, the former Dallas cop who killed Botham Jean after entering his apartment thinking it was her own, and Jean’s brother has stirred up a lot of emotion but it also raises some thought-provoking questions.
Guyger, 31, was convicted this week of murder in the death of the 26-year-old Jean, who was eating ice cream and watching football last September when Guyger entered his apartment and fatally shot him. She claimed during her trial that she thought he was an intruder in her own apartment.
Guyger was sentenced to a decade behind bars and during her sentencing hearing, Jean’s 18-year-old brother Brandt Jean made a stunning move.
"If you truly are sorry, I know I can speak for myself, I forgive you," he said, adding that he didn’t feel she should do any time, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Then, with the judge’s permission, the teen hugged his brother’s killer. The embrace lasted more than a minute and it inspired sobs from people present in the courtroom. Guyger and Jean had tears in their eyes. Even the judge, Tammy Kemp, was crying.
Allison Jean, the mother of both Botham and Brandt, expressed pride over her son’s courtroom actions but said that it shouldn’t absolve Guyger of any guilt.
“What he did today, was remarkable, and he did it all on his own,” Allison Jean told CBS News. “What Brandt did was to cleanse his heart towards Amber. … I do not want it to be misconstrued as a complete forgiveness of everybody.”
She added that she blames multiple Texas law enforcement agencies for her son’s death, not just the disgraced cop.
Charles M. Blow, a New York Times columnist raised a poignant question following the courtroom hug, tweeting, “Black people repeatedly demonstration an otherworldly beauty in the granting of grace to the undeserving. But the question remains: where is America’s reciprocity? When are blk ppl, in the wrong and in the vice, granted this grace? When are *innocent* blk ppl granted this grace?!”
Author Tim Wise put out a tweet stating that “Comforting white pain is a reflex. Rationalizing black pain is too. Until the latter stops the former will deserve condemnation.”
Pastor and talk show host Bishop Talber Swan tweeted out his belief that Guyger’s “family would neither have offered #forgiveness nor hugged him. The bailiff wouldn’t have combed his hair and the judge wouldn’t have hugged him and given him a Bible.”
He’s referencing controversial moment that followed Brandt Jean's show of forgiveness. When the ex-cop was sentenced, the judge herself hugged the newly convicted murderer and handed her a Bible.
“You just need a tiny mustard seed of faith,” Kemp said, according to local station WFAA. “You start with this.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation on Thursday filed a complaint against Kemp with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct claiming that the hug she shared with Guyger was unconstitutional and "signaled to everyone watching...that she is partial to Christian reform and Christian notions of forgiveness,” according to KXAS-TV.
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