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Moment of 2019: Brandt Jean hugs ex-cop who killed his brother

Fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of Botham Jean.
Credit: Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News
Botham Jean's younger brother Brandt Jean hugs convicted murderer Amber Guyger after delivering his impact statement to her following her 10-year prison sentence for murder at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Wednesday, October 2, 2019. Brandt asked the judge if he could give Guyger a hug. The fired Dallas police officer was found guilty of murder by a 12-person jury. Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean, an unarmed 26-year-old neighbor in his own apartment last year. She told police she thought his apartment was her own and that he was an intruder. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News/Pool)

It was easy to embrace the hug between Brandt Jean and Amber Guyger as the moment of 2019. 

WFAA reporters picked some of the top stories of 2019 and agreed that one moment stood out. 

Brandt Jean took the witness stand after fired Dallas police officer Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of his brother, Botham Jean. 

Typically, relatives share memories of their slain loved one during victim impact statements or tell the recently convicted how their actions harmed the family. 

But Brandt Jean's words and actions surprised many inside and outside the courtroom. He told Guyger something he said he'd never expected to say aloud, even to his family. And then he asked to hug her. 

"I don't even want you to go to jail," he said. "I want the best for you, because I know that's exactly what Botham would want." 

In September 2018, Botham Jean was eating ice cream inside his apartment when Guyger opened the door and shot him. She was off duty but still wearing her police uniform when she went into the apartment, one floor directly above her own. 

Guyger said she thought she was in her place and believed Jean was an intruder. 

A Dallas County jury rejected her self-defense claim and convicted Guyger of murder. They later rejected her claim of sudden passion when deciding her 10-year sentence.

RELATED: 'You start with this': Judge Tammy Kemp gives Amber Guyger a Bible after sentencing

Brandt Jean was the first family member to give a victim impact statement after the sentencing.

At times, he fidgeted with his shirt collar and tie while he told the fired police officer that he forgave her for killing his brother. 

"I'm not going to say I hope you rot and die," Brandt Jean said. 

He told Guyger he loves her "just like anyone else" and said that he wanted the best for her. 

"I forgive you, and I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you," he said. 

Once he finished speaking, Brandt Jean paused, wiped his eyes and said: "I don't know if this is possible. Can I give her a hug, please?" 

Brandt Jean looked at the judge and repeated: "Please?"

The judge said, "Yes," and Brandt Jean stood up and walked toward the defense table where Guyger sat. She rushed toward him and they embraced. 

They held each other for about 30 seconds before briefly breaking away and hugging again. 

Sobs could be heard in the courtroom. The pair continued to embrace for nearly another 30 seconds while Guyger whispered in Brandt Jean's ear. 

Jean told Good Morning America that he was able to forgive his brother's killer after hearing her apologize. 

"I waited one year to hear, 'I'm sorry,' and I'm grateful for that, and that's why I forgive her," he said. 

Brandt Jean said he wanted to hug Guyger to show her that he really meant it when he said he forgave her. 

Though the action was praised by many, including a law enforcement organization, the reaction of his family was mixed, with many struggling to also forgive the ex-cop, said a family attorney. 

Botham Jean's mother said she wants her son's death to change policing in Dallas.

"There's much more that needs to be done by the city of Dallas," said Botham Jean's mother Allison Jean after sentencing. "The corruption that we saw during this process must stop."

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