On Tuesday, Botham Jean‘s brother, Brandt Jean, accepted an award and gave a speech to a group that trains police officers. He received the 2019 Ethical Courage Award for forgiving and hugging Amber Guyger, the women who murdered his brother. The decision to accept the award was bound to stir controversy, but the lawyer for the Jean family, S. Lee Merritt, explained on Instagram:
“#BothamJean’s little brother Brandt has agreed to accept an award for ethical achievement by a prominent police agency— the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration. Brandt’s act in publicly forgiving the woman that murdered his brother received a great deal of attention, both negative and positive. It’s the negative backlash that I wanted to protect Brandt from and one of the reasons I encouraged him not to accept this award. He chose to anyway because he had a message for the law enforcement community. We crafted that message together and I am once again so proud of this 18 year old young man’s courage and wisdom.”
According to The Dallas Morning News, when accepting his award in front of the institute at an ethics conference, 18-year-old Brandt said:
“I want you all to know that I am not a threat, that young black males are not inherently dangerous or criminal. I implore you to champion policies and procedures that amplify the value of all lives. I insist that you encourage diverse leadership that can model inclusion and restraint.”
“Most importantly, I ask that you remember my brother. And when you remember him, I want you to ask yourself what are you doing to ensure there will be no other families like mine — no other little brothers that have to model ethical leadership in forgiveness of a cop whose lack of training and discipline caused them to carelessly take the life of another.”
Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean in September of last year inside his own apartment in Dallas, Texas. The 31-year-old said she mistakingly entered Jean’s apartment after a long day at work as a Dallas police officer. She claims she mistook Jean for an intruder and ordered him not to move. Then, she unloaded two shots at him before realizing her tragic move. Jean was killed at 26 while watching T.V. and eating ice cream.
Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of Jean. After her sentencing, Brandt told her in the courtroom, “If you truly are sorry, I know I can speak for myself, I forgive you.” He then asked if he could give her a hug and that’s when State District Judge Tammy Kemp, who presided over the trail, gave Brandt the okay. The jury and many spectators were gone at this point and Brandt said he didn’t realize the courtroom camera was still on when the hug went down.
Since the incident, Guyger has declined interview requests and she’s currently serving her time at a Huntsville prison.
Meanwhile, Brandt, his sister Allisa Findley, and his parents, Allison and Bertrum Jean, are still frustrated that they haven’t seen changes yet within the Dallas Police Department. The department is supposed to be conducting and internal investigation into information exposed during the trial about how investigators handled the murder investigation before it was turned over to the Texas Rangers. A police spokesperson said on Tuesday that the internal investigation is ongoing and there is no set date of when it will be completed.
The Jeans are still suing Guyger and the city in federal court. “It’s time someone speaks out,” Allison Jean said. “We cannot continue to exercise all that grace and mercy and nothing else comes to us.”