A historic court case happened a couple of weeks ago that we should all reflect upon. Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger went into the unlocked apartment of Botham Shem Jean, a native of the Caribbean nation of Saint Lucia and an employee at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas. The apartment was directly over her own and she mistakenly thought that he had broken into her apartment. The lights were off.
Mistaking him for a burglar, she shoots and kills him. Botham Jean, 26, was a graduate of Harding University in Arkansas, where he had been a beloved worship leader. The officer is white, and Jean’s mother said she wondered whether the outcome would have been different if her son hadn’t been black. “I don’t want to judge her. We are Christians. We forgive,” she said. “But I need to look into her eyes and ask her why did she do that to my son.”
Guyger was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The brother of Botham Jean, Brandt Jean, spoke at the trial. He forgave her and urged her to “embrace Christ.”
“I love you just like anyone else,” Brandt said. “I’m not going to say I hope you rot and die. 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.” Brandt asked if he could hug Guyger which the judge allowed. It was one of the most emotional moments I have ever experienced. This is what Jesus is taking about when he asked us to forgive. That’s the greatest act of forgiveness I have ever witnessed.
Amber acted out of racial fear and ignorance. Seeing a black man in what she thought was her apartment caused her to act without thinking. When fear and ignorance takes over our lives, we do stupid things. She killed a very special human being “and asked questions later.” Her ten-year sentence should give her the time to reflect on her actions and come closer to God.
This case should give each of us an occasion to reflect on our own racial prejudices.