A rare and stunning sight took place in a Dallas courtroom Wednesday when a man hugged the former police officer who shot and killed his brother after she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, 31, was convicted of killing her neighbor Botham Jean after accidentally entering the wrong apartment and mistaking Jean for an intruder over a year ago. Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, was relaxing in his own apartment after work when Guyger entered and shot him in the chest.
During a victim impact statement Wednesday, Jean's younger brother, Brandt Jean, 18, asked Judge Tammy Kemp if he could hug Guyger.
After the judge agreed, Jean left the stand for a surprising embrace.
"I love you as a person," he told Guyger, as sobs could be heard in the courtroom. "I don't wish anything bad on you."
Jean's mother, Allison, told TODAY's Gabe Gutierrez that she had no idea her son was going to make the unusual request.
"I think what Brandt did this afternoon was to heal himself, and to free himself from what has been wrapped up within him for the last year,'' she said. "And so we forgive. But I don't want forgiveness to be mistaken with a total relinquishing of responsibility."
Even Guyger's defense team was stunned at the tender display.
"I think he showed with his grace and forgiveness how we should heal,'' defense attorney Toby Shook told Gutierrez. "And I hope that people who were upset by the verdict will follow his example."
Kemp was so moved that she also hugged Guyger and gave her a personal Bible.
The case had stoked protests over racial bias and use of police force. Outside the courtroom, the mood was not so forgiving, as a group of protesters took to the streets in outrage over what they believed was a lenient sentence. Guyger is white, and Jean, a native of the island nation of St. Lucia, was black.
Guyger will be eligible for parole in five years. Prosecutors had asked for a minimum sentence of 28 years, which is how old Botham Jean would have been were he still alive.
"It does not seem like the punishment fit the crime,'' civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Jean's mother, told Gutierrez.