(DALLAS) — Brandt Jean, the 18-year-old who hugged Amber Guyger, the woman convicted of killing his brother, in court spoke out for the first time about the moment that shocked the nation and spurred a national conversation on forgiveness.
“I just told her that I forgave her and with usual instances the words only, they mean something, but I felt that wasn’t enough,” Jean said in an exclusive interview Friday on ABC News’ Good Morning America. “That was just my gesture, my decision of letting her know that I truly forgive her. “
Guyger, a former Dallas police officer, was sentenced Wednesday to serve 10 years in prison for the fatal 2018 killing of Jean’s brother, Botham Jean, whom she shot when she mistakenly entered his apartment believing it was her own.
The sentence appeared to initially disappoint the Jean family, who had hoped for far harsher punishment. Several members of the family broke down in tears, shaking their heads as if in disbelief of the jury’s decision.
But Brandt Jean took the witness stand and spoke to Guyger, saying, “I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you.”
“I love you just like anyone else and I’m not going to hope you rot and die,” Brandt Jean told Guyger. “I personally want the best for you. I wasn’t going to say this in front of my family, I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want for you. Give your life to Christ. I think giving your life to Christ is the best thing Botham would want for you.”
Brandt Jean then asked Judge Tammy Kemp if he could give Guyger a hug, a request the judge granted.
He stepped off the witness stand, met Guyger in front of the judge’s bench and embraced her as Guyger broke into tears.
At a news conference on Friday afternoon, Brandt Jean said that he didn’t know the cameras in the courtroom were on when he spoke to Guyger and hugged her.
“At the time, I didn’t know the cameras were on after the sentencing. I saw Amber’s family leave the room along with Amber and we left and came back [into the courtroom]. Upon coming back I didn’t think any cameras would be on,” he said at the news conference.
The family’s lawyer followed up, saying that Brandt Jean’s action “showed incredible bravery, but it wasn’t for show.”
Bertrum and Allison Jean, the parents of Brandt and Botham Jean, told ABC News Thursday they were surprised by the remarkable act of mercy their 18-year-old son showed Guyger after she was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Wednesday.
They also said they hope Guyger spends her time in a Texas state prison reflecting on how her actions not only devastated their family but also their country of St. Lucia, their church and the city of Dallas.
“I think what we saw was a jury that came back with a verdict of guilty of murder. That is significant to me,” Allison Jean told ABC News. “No matter how long she serves that sentence, she has a record that she is a murderer.”
The family’s third and middle child, Allisa Findley, released a statement through the family’s attorney saying she admired what her younger brother did in court.
“What Brandt did, I truly admire,” she wrote. “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 brothers killer to free himself and I stand behind him 100%.”
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