THE BROTHER of a man who was murdered by a white police officer in his own home has accepted an award from a prominent police agency.
Brandt Jean was recognised for his public display of forgiveness when he hugged the woman who shot dead his brother, Botham, in 2018.
On Tuesday, Brandt received an ethical courage award from The Institute for Law Enforcement Administration.
In his speech, Brandt admitted he struggled with accepting the award at first.
“I never intended for the statement I made to the person that murdered my brother to receive such international recognition. To be honest, I struggled with it for a long time,” he said.
He also spoke about the lengths his brother went to to avoid being perceived as a threat to anyone and law enforcement specifically.
“I want you all to know that I am not a threat. That young black males are not inherently dangerous or criminal,” Brandt said.
He went on to urge the police to remember his brother so that other deaths like his can be prevented.
“I implore you to champion policies and procedures that amplify the value of all lives. I insist you encourage diverse leadership that can model inclusion and restraint. 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. And when you remember him I want you to ask yourself what are you doing to ensure 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 the life of another,” Brandt said.
A lawyer for the Jean family, S Lee Merritt, said that he had sought to discourage the young man from receiving the award.
“Brandt’s act in publicly forgiving the woman that murdered his brother received a great deal of attention, both negative and positive. It’s the negative backlash that I wanted to protect Brandt from and one of the reasons I encouraged him not to accept this award,” Merritt wrote in a post on Instagram.
While he was initially against the idea, Merritt said that he was “once again proud of the 18-year-old’s courage and wisdom”.
Amber Guyger, 31, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in October after she was convicted for murdering Botham, 26.
She claimed she accidentally entered Botham’s apartment believing it was her own, despite living on a different floor, and shot him as she thought he was an intruder.
During her sentencing, Brandt approached Guyger and hugged her. He told Guyger that he forgave her and did not want her to go to prison. He also gave her one of his Bibles and encouraged her to ask God for forgiveness.