The story of Botham Jean’s murder, by former officer Amber Guyger, stands out among the many cases of police brutality against African Americans in the United States. The reason being, Jean was not your typical victim. For starters, a 26-year-old accountant sitting on his couch one evening, eating ice cream, would not appear as a threat to most people. Jean did nothing to provoke this heinous act. The only mistake he made was renting the apartment on the floor directly above Guyger. We have all, at some point in our lives, been so terribly caught up in our day-to-day lives that we make critical errors. In Amber Guyger’s case, her error left a man dead and an unbearable pain brought on his family.
The defense shared Guyger did in fact believe the apartment she entered that fateful evening belonged to her and that Jean was an intruder. Strangely enough, the well-trained police officer at the time did not call for backup. Instead, Guyger fired two shots, one making contact in Jean’s abdomen, eventually ending his life. After realizing her mistake, this off duty cop calls 911 and states she thought the apartment was her own. Guyger, obviously distressed, shares this one line, “I thought it was my apartment,” 19 times within the span of the 5 minute and 38 second phone call. More than once, Guyger’s speech becomes repetitive as she shares with the operator that she is “so tired.” Timesheets tell us that this former Dallas police officer worked nearly a 14 hour shift that day.
A lapse in judgement or an act of hate, that was left for a jury to decide. Once tried on October 1st of this year, Guyger was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Attorney S. Lee Merritt was quoted after the trial saying, “Of course that’s inadequate. The entire justice system is inadequate.” Although, Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot admitted that his office was pleased with the verdict, according to CNN.
Despite the devastating circumstances, Brandt Jean, the victim’s younger brother, presented a gracious testimony. The heart-wrenching video of young Jean on the stand, which went viral just hours after the trial, created quite a buzz on social media. In the video, he shares that he does not wish harm on Guyger. In fact, his testimony was filled with love and forgiveness for the woman who killed his brother. Young Jean expressed his hopes that she will turn to God with her feelings of guilt and better herself during her time in prison. His most shocking statement being, “I don’t even want you to go to jail.” This young man’s act of humanity shown towards the woman who took the life of his older brother is truly an uplifting story that holds a lesson for all of us. We are all human; we all make mistakes. Now, time will only tell how Guyger will react to this act of incredible mercy throughout her sentence.