The trial for her son’s killer was finally over, but Allison Jean reminded a Dallas congregation on Wednesday night that there was still plenty of work to do.
The mother of Botham Jean, the 26-year-old accountant fatally shot by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger last year, addressed the crowd at the Dallas West Church of Christ. Before Botham’s death, he had fellowshipped and led the choir at the church every Sunday. Mere hours after a jury delivered a 10-year-sentence to the woman who murdered her son, Allison and Botham’s father, Bertrum participated in a memorial service hosted by the church. They sang Botham’s favorite songs, prayed, and reflected on Jean’s life and tragic death.
Allison also addressed her son Brandt Jean’s controversial public show of forgiveness to Amber Guyger, calling his decision “remarkable” but reminding the crowd of how much work there was ahead to hold Dallas police accountable, specifically calling out problems with the investigation revealed at the trial.
“I don’t want the community to be mistaken by what [happened] in the courtroom,” she said, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. “Forgiveness for us as Christians is a healing for us, but as my husband said, there are consequences. It does not mean that everything else we have suffered has to go unnoticed. We’re leaving Dallas this week, but you all must live in Dallas and you all must try to make Dallas a better place.”
From NBC DFW:
“What you saw and what you heard in the courtroom really showed what your system is and you must seek to do something about it,” she said. “You saw a contaminated crime scene, you saw deletion of evidence by persons in high offices. You saw turning off of body cams and saw cameras in the vehicles.
“You saw investigations that were marred with corruption and throughout the trial what I kept saying to myself is, ‘Botham was a child of God and we know he did not deserve what he got.’ The most hurtful part is for me that even after he was shot, he was left to die.
“There are many Christians who asked me if I would forgive Amber. I will leave my forgiveness for Amber to myself. God knows my heart,” she said. “What I want you to do for us, for the family is to support the legacy of Botham. We have created the foundation not to help us, but to help the underprivileged, the underserved, the vulnerable, the voiceless. So I ask you to support the Botham Jean Foundation. I would love to help someone who Botham would have wanted to help.”
She thanked the church for being for her family throughout the trial and asked them to be alert. The service ended with one of Botham’s favorite songs.
“While we walk as Christians, we still have a responsibility to show that our city does what is right,” she said.
The high-profile and emotional trial spanned a little more than a week and featured expert testimony, revealing Botham Jean likely was cowering or getting up from the couch where he had been seated, eating a bowl of ice cream when Guyger walked in and shot him. Guyger, who was off-duty but in uniform, said she had mistaken his apartment for her own.
When first responders arrived on the scene, Botham still had a faint pulse, but their efforts to save him were unsuccessful. Prosecutors during the trial accused Guyger, who had an unused first aid kit in her backpack the night of the murder, of not doing enough to save his life. Video of Botham’s final moments were shown during the trial.
At one point, Jean admitted that her son’s murder had tested her faith in God.
“What I reflected on was Botham’s own motivation,” she said. “He was one who always says, ‘Don’t give up, remain positive, look at the bright side.’”