Bertrum Jean, the father of Botham Shem Jean, said in church after Amber Guyger’s sentencing that he’d like to become her friend someday, according to CBS Dallas. You can watch a news broadcast containing video of his comments later in this article.
It was another chapter in the Jean family’s remarkable and controversial decision to show a spirit of forgiveness in the wake of the death of their son at the hand of Guyger, who was a Dallas police officer when she shot and killed Botham Jean, a businessman from St. Lucia, in his own apartment. Earlier in the day, after Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for Jean’s murder, the victim’s brother, Brandt Jean, asked to hug Guyger in court. Those who are criticizing the actions say they are distracting from what they believe to be a too-weak sentence among other issues; however, others are praising the family’s dignity and Christian faith.
Guyger had said she mistakenly went into the wrong apartment, thinking it was her own; prosecutors countered that she should have known it was not. Botham Shem Jean was watching TV and eating ice cream in his own apartment when Guyger shot him.
CBS Dallas reported that Botham Jean’s father, Bertrum Jean, was with the family at church after the sentencing concluded. They were seated at Dallas West Church of Christ in the spot where Botham Jean liked to sit in church, according to the television station. “I’m not really surprised because we know how we raised him… The Holy Spirit was working,” said Bertrum, referring to Brandt Jean’s courtroom hug.
Then he said: “I’d like to become your friend at some point… I think I have the ability to do it and I would like to be a friend despite my loss. That’s why we are Christians.” The television station reported that Bertrum Jean was talking about befriending Amber Guyger in that statement.
Bertrum added, however: “I appreciate what Brandt did but there are consequences for actions.” Some sites have given the father’s name as Bertram Jean, but on Facebook, he goes by the spelling Bertrum Jean.
Allison Jean, Botham’s mother, said forgiveness as Christians is “healing for us.. but there are consequences. I will leave my forgiveness to Amber to myself.”
Earlier in the Day, Brandt Jean Told Guyger He Forgives Her & Loves Her as a Person
Brandt Jean’s expressions of forgiveness toward Guyger in the Texas courtroom generated headlines throughout the world. The moment led to sobs in court after Brandt told Guyger that he forgives and loves her, asking her to turn to Christ.
Jean asked the judge: “I don’t know if this is possible but can I give her a hug please? Please?” He was giving a victim impact statement at the time after Guyger’s sentencing. The judge allowed it, and Jean embraced Guyger in a lengthy hug.
Allison Jean praised Brandt on Facebook, writing, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6. I’m proud of you my son, Brandt. Your load is lighter. Who feels it knows it. Regardless of the views of the spectators, walk with God always. Forgiveness is for the forgiver and it doesn’t matter what the forgiven does with it. #BelikeBo is being Christlike. #LetitRise.”
Botham Jean was deeply connected to his Christian religion and known for his singing in church. A video of him singing in church was even presented previously in the sentencing hearing. Brandt Jean was only 17 when Guyger shot and killed his brother. He previously described hearing his mother cry, telling Fox 6, “I still don’t believe he’s gone, but we have to accept it. He was really inspiring. He had a positive mind and vibe.”
Allison Jean said after the sentencing: “That 10 years in prison is 10 years for her reflection and for her to change her life. But there is much more to be done by the City of Dallas. The corruption that we saw during this process must stop. And it must stop for you. Because after now I leave Dallas, but you live in Dallas, and it must stop for everyone.”
There was another hug that caused controversy. After Brandt Jean’s emotional statement, and as the courtroom cleared, Judge Tammy Kemp walked down from the bench to meet with Guyger. She also spoke with Jean’s family members. The judge also hugged the former Dallas police officer and gave her a Bible, reading her a passage: John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
This is Brandt Jean’s full statement to Guyger:
“I don’t want to say twice or for the hundredth time how much you’ve taken from us. I think you know that. But I just…I hope you go to God with all the guilt, all the bad things you may have done in the past. Each and every one of us may have done something we’re not supposed to do. If you truly are sorry, I speak for myself, I forgive you. If you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you. And I don’t think anyone can say, I’m speaking for myself…but I love you just like everyone else. And I’m not going to say I hope you rot and die just like my brother did, I personally want the best for you. And I wasn’t going to ever say this in front of my family or anyone, but, 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 you to do and the best would be to give your life to Christ… I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do. Again I love you as a person. I don’t wish anything bad on you.”
Jean’s mother runs the Saint Lucia national Utilities Regulatory Commission. She told CBS of Brandt’s action, “What he did today, was remarkable, and he did it all on his own. What Brandt did was to cleanse his heart towards Amber … I do not want it to be misconstrued as a complete forgiveness of everybody.”
Bertrum Jean told the jury: “How could we have lost Botham, such a sweet boy? He tried his best to live a good, honest life. He loved God. He loved everyone. How could this happen to him? In hindsight — what could we have done? My family is broken-hearted. How could it be possible? We’ll never see him again. And I want to see him, I still want to see him.”
READ NEXT: The Life of Botham Shem Jean.