Commentary

Mercy in the courtroom

On September 6, 2018, 31-year old Amber Renee Guyger, a Dallas police officer, had just completed a 15-hour shift.

She mistakenly entered what she thought was her apartment and confronted Botham Jean, 26; Guyger testified that she believed he was an intruder and fatally shot him. 

He was unarmed, sitting on his couch.

These facts sparked my shocked reaction to Brandt Jean, the 18-year old brother of the victim and the presiding judge, Tammy Kemp, embracing and giving words of comfort to Guyger, shortly after the jury had rendered its verdict–murder.

Judge Kemp and Brandt Jean could have–and I believe should have–consoled Guyger in private.

I especially viewed the judge’s actions as an affront to Botham’s mother, Allison Jean, who is justifiably angry over the unnecessary and untimely death of her son.

There was collective dismay among many African Americans at the sight of a young, white female defendant being publicly consoled; few believe that a black officer–whether male or female–who had shot an unarmed white woman sitting in her own apartment would have received similar treatment.

On a recent radio talk show on Urban View (SiriusXM), a black man stated that he is tired of “oppressed people” giving comfort to the “oppressor” despite systemic racism that ignores the shooting of unarmed black men, ignores the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, ignores the arrest and handcuffing of a six-year old black girl for a temper “tantrum,” and ignores political efforts to nullify the black vote in some states.

Grief

In the grieving process, it is not uncommon to experience feelings of anger, vengeance, or unforgiveness; we need time to flush out ugly emotions that can surface, especially after an act of violence.

Mrs. Jean should be allowed to grieve without feeling guilty for righteous anger.

Forgiveness

I fully understand the spiritual, emotional, and psychological reasons behind acts of forgiveness.

To forgive, we are told, does not mean to forget egregious acts against us or our loved ones.

Nonetheless, forgive me for not forgiving what appears to be favoritism toward a white female defendant that minimizes the pain of a grieving family over the needless death of Botham Jean..

 

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