The attorney for the Florida man who killed an unarmed black teenager after claiming to have felt threatened says the incident bears no resemblance to the Trayvon Martin Case that riveted the nation earlier this year.
Robin Lemonidis insisted Thursday that her client, Michael Dunn, is no “vigilante,” but did only shot out of “self-defense.” Dunn has pleaded not guilty to murder charges, but remains in jail.
“There are no comparisons to the Trayvon Martin situation,” Lemonidis said. “He is devastated and horrified by the death of the teen.”
Dunn, 45, was denied bond Monday on a murder charge stemming from the weekend shooting in Jacksonville. The violence was sparked by a confrontation about loud music in a gas station parking lot, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.
Dunn told authorities that he had asked the teens to turn down the blaring music from their vehicle adjacent to his, as he waited for his girlfriend to return to the car.
Dunn told police that he heard threats from the teens. He said he felt threatened and thought he saw a gun in the SUV in which the teens were sitting. He grabbed his gun and fired at least eight shots, authorities said.
Seventeen-year-old Jordan Davis, among the teens, was killed. There were no guns found inside the teens’ car, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.
Dunn and his girlfriend fled the scene following the shooting, driving 159 miles back to his home in Brevard County.
Ron Davis, the victim’s father, said he is devastated and doesn’t believe the shooting was self-defense.
“He did something that there was no defense for,” the father said of the suspect.
Ron Davis said his son didn’t own any guns, wasn’t part of a gang and was a good kid. When Dunn pulled out the gun, the teens’ initially thought it was a fake then frantically tried to back up the car before being caught in the gunfire, Ron Davis said.
The father said he talked to two of the teens who were in the car, and they are “really shaken.”
Jordan’s body will be moved to Atlanta, the home of his mother, on Thursday, before a Saturday funeral.
A bevy of friends, family members, classmates and teachers gathered at the Hardage-Garden Funeral Home in the Jacksonville suburb of Mandarin on Wednesday evening to pay their respects and make an emotional farewell.
Some have compared this incident to the Trayvon Martin case, the shooting of an unarmed Florida teen in February that sparked nationwide protests and inflamed public passions over race relations and gun control. Martin’s shooting also focused a spotlight on Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows the use of deadly force without retreating when a person perceives a threat to safety.
Similar to Trayvon Martin, Davis was 17 and African-American.
But Dunn’s attorney said her client’s action should not be compared to George Zimmerman, the volunteer neighborhood watchman who is charged with second-degree murder in the February 26 shooting death of Martin in Sanford, Florida.
Zimmerman is awaiting trial in June.
“That’s ridiculous,” Lemonidis said. “Michael is not a vigilante. He’s a brilliant software developer. It was never his intention to kill anyone.”
The attorney said she is contemplating what defense she will use if the case goes to trial.
“Self-defense applies because Mr. Dunn was threatened,” Lemonidis said. “We can’t say what the defense will be at this stage … but stand your ground is a possibility.”
Florida is among 24 states to have various forms of “Stand Your Ground” laws on the books 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.