A former Dallas cop is going to be spending the next decade in prison for murder. Jurors debated around 90-minutes before deciding Amber Guyger's punishment for killing Botham Jean last fall.
Guyger says she was exhausted after working an extra shift and went into Jean's 4th floor unlocked apartment thinking it was her apartment on the 3rd floor. She then was startled by Jean who jumped off his couch where he had been eating a bowl of ice cream. She then shot and killed him. Monday the jury convicted her of Jean's murder.
But when Judge Tammy Kemp conferred the sentence for Amber Guyger, no one could have imagined the incredible gesture that came via Brandt Jean, the brother of Guyger’s victim. He said “I love you as a person. I don’t wish anything bad on you.” He said "If you truly are sorry, I know I can speak for myself, I forgive you. I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you,
He then asked the judge, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug?”
Brandt then told Guyger that he knew his brother would want her to give her life to God. He then went over and hugged her...and tears could be heard in the courtroom at the time while they embraced. Prosecutors had asked for 28 years – as that’s the age Botham would have turned this past Sunday.
State District Judge Tammy Kemp was so moved by Brandt that the Dallas News reports that she went openly sobbed. After the preceding she left the bench and reemerged through the door that the jury uses to enter and exit the court room. Judge Kemp then went to the Jean family. "I'm so sorry," she said to each of them. "I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for the way you modeled Christ," Kemp told Allison Jean. She then went to the defense table where Amber still sat and handed her a Bible. "Read this" she told Amber. Amber stood up and the two hugged. This could all be seen on the internet stream of the preceding's. No one knows what Amber said to the Judge but Judge Kemp replied “Ma’am, it’s not because I am good. It’s because I believe in Christ. None of us are worthy.”
Protesters were not as forgiving as his the family. Several could be heard as the courtroom was being dismissed beginning the chant "no justice, no peace". Hundreds perhaps a thousand according to some estimates took to the streets last night in decrying the sentence and calling for a "movement for justice.” The crowd started off by marching and then blocking the intersection of Commerce Street and Riverfront Boulevard. They then moved to marched to Dealey Plaza and the Omni Hotel, chanting "No justice! No peace!" One protester was arrested.
I'll simply add that the difference between forgiveness and justice are immense. What is justice for murdering a young man who by all accounts had so much potential to contribute greatly to the community? Life in prison or even the death penalty seems too light. But if through his murder, large groups of people learn about the power of forgiveness and develop or strengthen a relationship with Jesus then the young man has accomplished more with his life then most of us can even dare to imagine we would in many more years of life.
I also take solace in Romans 12:19 when I see someone apparently getting away with something. "Do not take revenge, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord."