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Act of forgiveness in Guyger trial resonates for many

Posted at 5:30 PM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 23:34:01-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The decision to forgive and hug his brother's killer in court is resonating for many people across the world including Nashville.

The brother of Botham Jean told former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger that he forgave her during the sentencing testimony. Judge Tammy Kemp approved his request to embrace Guyger which prompted her to sob in his arms in several seconds that have captured the hearts of people in Nashville.

"I was thrilled that somebody could give forgiveness in their heart. Forgiveness is grace and mercy that God gave us, " Patsy Long said.

"It inspired me," Desire Baganda said. "To live better and continue living better with people, I got to forgive."

A Dallas jury found Guyger guilty of murder after she walked into his apartment and opened fire despite the defense arguing she thought he was an intruder. She was sentenced 10 years even though she could have been given 99 years in prison. Even the judge hugged Guyger and gave her a bible to take to prison.

Eastside Church of Christ Pastor Floyd Hughes told NewsChannel 5 that it was a clear example of Bible principles being practiced on a national scale.

"I believe you should love at no end. If you look at what happened to Christ and how he was treated, I think we have no other option but to forgive," he said.

A message of forgiveness is something Burnette Chapel Church of Christ minister Joey Spann knows too well. He and several church members including his wife were injured after former church goer Emanuel Samson opened fire in the sanctuary. Samson was sentenced to life without parole after killing Melanie Smith in the parking lot.

Spann says he has forgiven Samson but it is a long process for many others. He was also pleased what happened in the Guyger trial.

"To forgive one another is radical, but that's what changes lives is the radical compassion," Spann said.

Botham Jean's mother told CBS News she's not ready to forgive but is "getting closer to it." She said in the CBS interview, "What Brandt [son] did was to cleanse his heart towards Amber … I do not want it to be misconstrued as a complete forgiveness of everybody."

On the other hand, there is a debate about what happened. Acitivits and community leaders are concerned it's another example of black Americans absolving perpetrators without proper accountability.

Reverend Cornell William Brooks, a prominent Dallas pastor activist, said in a tweet, "I have preached #forgiveness for 25 years, BUT using the willingness of Black people to forgive as an excuse to further victimize Black people is SINFUL. America should ask Black people forgiveness for serially asking African Americans to forgive sanctioned #PoliceBrutality."