An act of grace and tolerance seldom seen in an American courtroom.
American courtrooms are generally viewed as places of accountability but more often than not are places of vengeance, misconduct, and sometimes even bald-faced injustice.
But this week a courtroom in Dallas, Texas witnessed the brother of a murder victim give the former police officer charged with the murder a hug of forgiveness.
That hug is probably why the jury sentenced Amber Guyger to ten years rather than the harsher minimum of 28 years demanded by the prosecution.
It is easier to forget than forgive. People find all sorts of ways to bury in the recesses of their mind the very worst things done to them by other people.
But wounded people find it difficult, if not impossible, to forgive, to contain the bile of hatred that demands revenge.
When Brandt Jean asked Judge Tammy Kemp from the witness stand if he could give Amber Guyger a hug, he did so against the primal instinct to demand revenge instead.
It was an act of remarkable courage by Brandt Jean—a gesture badly needed at a time when Americans are polarized with racial division and even racial hatred among the ranks of too many people who have bought into the “white nationalism” social philosophy.
Some people are upset about the lenient 10-year sentence Guyger received.
Judges and jurors across the country are asked each day to consider the feelings of the victims of crime, especially violent crime.
That’s precisely what the Dallas jury did in the Amber Guyger case—and it did so without revenge in mind.
Revenge for the sake of revenge never produces justice.
The killing of Botham Jean in his own apartment last year was a tragedy. His death demanded accountability. Amber Guyger’s jury provided some accountability with its murder conviction and sentence.
Was it enough accountability?
Each person will have to decide that based on their own life experiences.
I will not second-guess the jury’s sentencing decision.
Ten years may seem a lenient sentence (and it is), but it is a long time for an ex-police officer, especially a female, to spend in an intolerant and unforgiving prison society. The very insidious nature of the prison experience will cause Guyger to endure more consequences than the average inmate.