Botham Jean's brother accepts award from police group and implores them to 'amplify the value of all lives'

Posted Tuesday, 03 December 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The brother of Botham Jean, who redirected the national conversation on police violence when he embraced the ex-Dallas police officer who killed his brother, accepted an ethical courage award from a law enforcement organization Tuesday -- but not without reservations. The Institute for Law Enforcement Administration honored Brandt Jean at a ceremony in Plano, Texas. Before handing the 18-year-old its 2019 Award for Ethical Courage, the organization played video of the young man's October remarks in the courtroom following the trial of Amber Guyger, who had just received a 10-year sentence. Guyger had contended the shooting was a mistake -- she was in the wrong apartment, which she had mistaken for her own, and believed Botham Jean was an intruder -- but a jury found her guilty of murder. From the witness stand, Brandt Jean told Guyger he loved her and that he didn't want her to go to jail. He bore no ill wishes toward her, he said. "If you truly are sorry -- I know I can speak for myself -- I forgive you," he told the former policewoman. "And I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you."With the judge's permission, Brandt Jean walked across the courtroom and embraced Guyger. While some, including the judge, saw it as a moment of great human magnanimity, others questioned the societal forces at play that would drive a young black man to hug a white officer who killed his brother in his own home.'I struggled with it'The teen seemed aware of the debate as he took the podium Tuesday in a black suit and a shirt of bright red, his brother's favorite color. "I never intended for the statement I made to the person that murdered my brother to receive such international recognition," Jean said. "To be honest, I struggled with it for a long time, as I struggled with accepting this award from this agency."Sister sees both sides of argumentHe ultimately decided to accept the award, he said, so he could deliver a message to those in attendance. He appreciated the opportunity to console Guyger because she needed forgiveness and he needed to be "free of the burden of unforgiveness," he said. That forgiveness, however, does not release law enforcement from its own burden to "amplify the value of all lives," he said. "My brother was well aware of the danger posed to young black men due to the misconceptions about color that seem particularly pronounced among the law enforcement community," Jean said. "I want you all to know I am not a threat, that young black males are not inherently dangerous or criminal."He further implored those in attendance to keep Botham Jean in their thoughts as they went about their duties. "I insist that you encourage diverse leadership that can model inclusion and restraint," he said. "Most importantly, I ask that you remember my brother -- my example of ethical leadership, a young black male that was perceived as a threat by one of your own."I want you to remember him. I want you to ask yourself what are you doing to ensure that 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 a life of another."He closed to a standing ovation, saying, "I'm truly grateful for this award, and I hope others can see the light in what I did."'I see the strength given to you by your faith'Gregory Smith, director of the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration, applauded the teen, his family and everyone who helped mold Brandt Jean into the young man that he has become. Op-ed: Hug is not absolution for racism "You are truly a model of good parenting," he said. "I see the values instilled in you by your parents. I see the strength given to you by your faith. If the rest of us can tap into just a slice of the moral courage and the principles that you displayed in that moment, this world would be a better place."Brandt and Botham Jean were raised in the Church of Christ in St. Lucia, and their mother, Allison, gave them biblical middle names -- Botham Shem and Brandt Samuel. Brandt Jean traveled with Allison and his father, Bertrum, from St. Lucia for Tuesday's ceremony. His older sister, who traveled from New York, was also in attendance. In January, the teen is slated to begin his studies at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, the same school from which his brother graduated in 2016 before moving to Dallas.

Other articles published by CNN

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Rwanda has introduced robots as part of its fight against coronavirus.With 314 confirmed cases of the virus as of May 22, the East African country has enlisted the help of five anti-epidemic robots to battle the virus. The robots were donated by the ...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)It was a mouth-watering prospect for sports-starved fans everywhere. Four of the greatest athletes the world has ever known, on the golf course at the same time, offering us a glimpse of who they are when they aren't winning Major Championships and...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)A Texas community hit by terrible tragedy months ago came together over the weekend to celebrate a survivor's first birthday.Paul Gilbert Anchondo was two months old when his parents died shielding him from a shooter at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart on ...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Several members of the graduating class at The Lovett School in Atlanta, Georgia, have tested positive for Covid-19, according to a letter from the school."The school has been notified by several Class of 2020 families that their students have...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Just when you thought you'd learned how to spell Grimes and Elon Musk's unusual baby name, they've gone and changed it.Earlier this month, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Musk announced the birth of the baby boy in a post on Twitter, revealing his son was...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

In this weekly column "Cross Exam," Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor, gives his take on the latest legal news. Post your questions below. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN. ...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

Rome (CNN)"The doctors were shocked. They said they had never seen anything like this," says Valentina Vigilante, recalling the terrifying day her 6-year-old son Nicolò was rushed into intensive care in Bergamo, northern Italy, as he struggled to...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Vanessa Bryant, wife of the late Kobe Bryant, shared a sweet moment this Memorial Day weekend -- a film of their baby daughter's first steps. In a video posted to Instagram, 11-month-old Capri stumbles across the room for the first time, into the...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)With two barren peaks that rise only about 170 feet above sea level, the now extinct Pūhāhonu volcano in the Northwestern Hawaii Islands doesn't look like much. This is especially true since in the same archipelago, Mauna Loa towers over every...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Photos and video of Memorial Day weekend celebrations across the US showed plenty of people going to the beach and gathering on boardwalks, but not a lot of people social distancing or wearing masks. From Florida to Indiana and across the country to ...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

Hong Kong (CNN Business)An online grocery business backed by Asia's richest man is expanding to hundreds of cities across India — a move widely seen as a challenge to Amazon (AMZN) and FlipKart.JioMart, the grocery platform owned by Mukesh Ambani's Jio ...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

(Kaiser Health News)As states relax coronavirus restrictions, older adults are advised, in most cases, to keep sheltering in place. But for some, the burden of isolation and uncertainty is becoming hard to bear.This "stay at home awhile longer" advice...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)As warm weather sends people outdoors, some are encountering tenacious pests with no respect for social distance. Forget staying 6 feet apart: Ticks go for blood in the hardest-to-reach places on the human body. Many of those ticks are infected with ...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)At a glance, it may look like many Americans have long forgotten about the dangers of coronavirus.Crowds packed beaches in Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia and Indiana over the weekend -- many venturing out without masks and others failing to...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)At first glance, Shelley Allwang's cubicle looks just like any other office space.But alongside a pinboard full of tchotchkes and a photo of her dog, sits a story that reminds Allwang of the importance of her job, now more than ever. "The Boy and...