The 18-year-old brother of the Botham Jean, who was shot dead by former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, has revealed why he decided to hug her in court.
Following two days of testimony, Guyger was sentenced this week to 10 years in prison for the murder of her unarmed black neighbour in September 2018.
The 31-year-old argued she killed Jean after mistakenly thinking she was in her own flat and that he was an intruder.
Listen to Jean’s brother, Brandt, explain his decision to hug her here:
Despite being responsible for the death of his brother, the 18-year-old surprised many when he gave Guyger a hug and told her ‘I love you as a person’.
While on the stand, Brandt also admitted he wanted the best for the former police officer, adding he didn’t even want her to go to jail.
I want the best for you because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want … and the best would be, give your life to Christ.
Watch the emotional exchange below:
BREAKING: In stunning moment, Botham Jean's brother embraces Amber Guyger after her sentencing for his brother's murder.
— ABC News (@ABC) October 2, 2019
The teen’s reaction was shocking to many but he explained his actions during an appearance on Good Morning America today (October 4), saying while ‘in usual instances the words mean something’, he didn’t think his comments on the stand were enough to show Guyger he forgave her.
Speaking of his decision to give her a hug, Brandt continued:
That was just my gesture… of letting her know I truly forgive her. No one else’s way, just my decision.
Each and everyone has steps to get to where it’s forgiving. I probably went through those faster than other people… If you are trying to forgive her, understand she is a human being. She still deserves love. She made a mistake that she probably truly regrets.
I waited one year to hear ‘I’m sorry’ and I’m grateful for that.
The decision to sentence Guyger to 10 years in prison was met with immediate protests, however when the jurors on the case learned about the hug between Brandt and Guyger they reportedly said it made them feel comfortable with their decision.
Two of the jurors told Good Morning America deciding on Guyger’s punishment was ‘one of the hardest things’ they’ve had to do.
Brandt went on to say he didn’t plan to spend the rest of his life hating Guyger and that forgiveness was ‘what [he] had to do to set [himself] free’.
Botham and Brandt’s sister, Allisa Findley, released a statement through the family’s attorney saying she admired what her younger brother did in court.
It read in part:
What Brandt did, I truly admire.
I pray everyday to get to the point of forgiveness and he is already there. That’s a weight lifted from him. He hugged our brother’s killer to free himself and I stand behind him 100 per cent.
Brandt’s response to the sentencing was truly commendable.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.