When Brandt Jean hugged his brother’s killer, he did it out of love, not to shock a nation.
“This is what you have to do to set yourself free,” the 18-year-old told “Good Morning America” Friday (October 4).
It was his first TV interview since he embraced Amber Guyger in court after a jury delivered a guilty verdict.
Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean on September 6, 2018, in his own apartment after she mistakenly thought it was her place.
She was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
“I didn’t really plan on living the rest of my life hating this woman,” the deceased’s younger brother said.
“I know that there’s something called peace of mind and that’s the type of stuff you need to do to have peace of mind,” he explained. “That is why I wake up happy in the morning. That is why I want to live happy later on in my life.”
On Wednesday (October 2), he took the stand in the courtroom and said he not only forgave Guyger but also loves her and didn’t want to see her go to jail.
“I want the best for you because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want for you,” the young man told Guyger in a courtroom filled with emotions and tears from the family and even Judge Tammy Kemp.
“Give your life to Christ,” Jean told Guyger. “I think giving your life to Christ is the best thing Botham would want for you.”
He then asked Judge Kemp permission to walk over to Guyger and hug her. They held a long embrace.
Jean is currently enrolled at Harding University, his brother, Botham, alma mater.
He told GMA that he felt compelled to go beyond his words and hug Guyger.
“I knew that I just told her that I forgave her and with usual instances the words only, they mean something, but I felt like that wasn’t enough,” he said. “That was just my gesture, my decision of letting her know that I truly forgive her.”
While the future is still unclear, Brandt said he “felt like I had to get that point across to her.”
That infamous hug received mixed reviews on social media with some applauding his compassion and others reacting in disbelief.
“Each and every one has steps to get towards actually forgiving. I probably went through those faster than other people. Some people went through it faster than me,” he told GMA. “If you are trying to forgive [Guyger], understand that she is a human being. She still deserves love.”
Their sister, Allisa Findley, was one to applaud her little brother’s show of unconditional love even if she doesn’t feel the same.
“What Brandt did, I truly admire,” she wrote in a message that was posted on the family’s attorney, Lee Merritt’s Instagram page. “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%.”
They are the children of a minister and were raised to love God and everyone. So, Brandt’s act of kindness wasn’t surprising to his family.
“What you saw was what my family has practiced for all our lives,” their mother, Allison Jean, said in an interview with NBC5. “What you saw is what Brandt has been taught -- to love, to forgive.”
She also told ABC News, “I think what we saw was a jury that came back with a verdict of guilty of murder. That is significant to me. No matter how long she serves that sentence, she has a record that she is a murderer.”
Photo: Stewart F. House/Getty Images