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February 21, 2014

Dunn Case: Shoot First, Think Later

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In a tragedy close in similarity to the Trayvon Martin incident (George Zimmerman was acquitted of charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter), another white man has been spared the first-degree murder charge for shooting a black teen – (17 year-old Jordan Russell Davis) to death in November 2012 after an argument ensued at a Jacksonville, FL gas station over loud music.

Michael Dunn, a 47 year-old white man was in town with his girlfriend attending his son’s wedding when he pulled up alongside a SUV in which four teenagers were sitting and asked them to turn their music down. The teens turned the music down at first and then turned it back up. Words were exchanged and Dunn then fired nine shots at the vehicle, several of which hit Davis to cause his death.

Dunn drove away from the scene following the shooting. He returned to his hotel room and ordered pizza. Dunn says he fled the scene because he feared the teenagers had called some of their friends to come help them. While Davis mother Lucia McBath called Dunn’s decision to run away from the scene “unconscionable.” Dunn’s lawyer said that her client acted “responsibly and in self-defense.”

Defending her father, Dunn’s daughter Rebecca stated in a telephone interview with a local Florida tv station that her father got threatened and did what he had to do. It wasn’t his intentions to kill anyone. He just reacted.

You don’t like the choice of music the teenagers were playing so you shoot at them? After an exchange of taunts and threats Dunn claimed he saw the barrel of a rifle in the SUV and later the police didn’t find a weapon at all. Give me a break. What happen to simply driving away?

Dunn’s self-defense claim falls under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law that deem a person justified in the use of deadly force if feeling threatened. In Florida, once self-defense is invoked, the burden is on the prosecution to disprove the claim.

I honestly feel that the real purpose of the “stand your ground” law was to provide a legal defense for White men to shoot black boys.

Once again the verdict in the Michael Dunn-Jordan Davis trial has brought deep soul-searching about race in America. Granted guns were an element in both cases. Like Zimmerman, Dunn legally carried a firearm when he shot and killed the unarmed black teenager. Dunn is Vice President of Dunn & Dunn Date Systems in Vero Beach. His job didn’t require him to have a gun. Truly it’s his constitutional right to bear arms but it is the race of the victims and of the shooters that has drawn the most controversy and media attention during and after the trial of Michael Dunn.

The jury – reflective of American society (four white women, two black women, four white men, an asian woman and a hispanic man) took 30 hours over a four-day period to reach a verdict. And even then, they could not agree on the most serious charge – first-degree murder in the killing of 17 year-old Jordan Davis. He was convicted of three counts of attempted second-degree murder and manslaughter in firing 9 rounds from his 9 millimeter pistol at an SUV carrying Mr. Davis and three other teens. That adds up to at least 60 years in prison. But the irony of the case – injustice, critics say – is that a mistrial has been declared.

After the verdict, Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the family of Trayvon Martin, told CNN: “As black males and black people in America, and other minorities and Hispanics as well, it is somehow, if you kill us, the justice system isn’t equal. It is almost as if your life is less valuable.”

“The rules are different,” Mr. Crump said. “If it were equal, I believe Michael Dunn would have been convicted of first-degree murder.”

It’s ironic while in jail awaiting trail, Dunn wrote letters to his grandmother voicing his issues with black culture and their attitudes as he sees it.

“This jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs,” he wrote. “This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these … idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior…. The more time I am exposed to these people, the more prejudiced against them I become.”

In particular, he seemed outraged at what he called the “thug culture” of rap music reflected in the way many young black men express themselves.

I wonder if Dunn is outraged at youth of other races (White, Hispanic, Asian and others) who embrace rap music or as he claims “thug culture”?

Dunn’s prosecuter John Guy said during closing arguments. “Jordan Davis didn’t have a weapon. He had a big mouth,” referring to the verbal exchange in the parking lot and the fact that no weapon was found in the black teens’ car. “That defendant wasn’t gonna stand for it, and it cost Jordan Davis his life.” I’m appalled by the comments.

Prosecutors suggested that Dunn was more interested in defending his honor than defending his life.

“Stand your ground” laws aren’t as egregious as the worst of Jim Crow, writes Jamelle Bouie, a staff writer at The Daily Beast. “But there’s no denying that it harkens to a time when you could shoot first and never ask questions, as long as the victim was a black person.”

“I think I speak for many black people when I say that’s terrifying,” he writes.

Although it’s unlikely that Dunn will ever be a free man again, prosecutors say they will retry him on the first-degree murder charge on behalf of the family of Jordan Davis, who would have turned 19 on Sunday.



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Sylvester Cosby





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