Florida’s “stand your ground” law may get its second stringent test in court now that a Florida grand jury has decided to indict 46-year-old Michael David Dunn on a first-degree murder charge in the death of teenager Jordan Davis, 17.
Dunn opened fire on a car containing Davis and three other teens, firing eight or nine shots into the vehicle because he claimed he saw one of them with a gun after they got into an argument with him at a Jacksonville gas station about the loud music they were playing.
The Nov. 23 shooting death of Davis got a great deal of attention because it seemed so senseless and outrageous—and occurred in Florida in the same year that George Zimmerman killed another 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
According to the Florida Times-Union, officials in the state attorney’s office said they won’t be seeking the death penalty against Dunn.
There has been speculation that Dunn will be trying to use the Stand Your Ground law in his defense—the same law that Zimmerman is reportedly intending to use in Trayvon Martin’s death.
Dunn’s former lawyer, Robin Lemonidis, gave the following recount in a television interview with WJXT of Dunn’s recounting of the incident:
“Uh, ‘Kill that mother (expletive),’ ‘That mother (expletive) is dead,’ ‘You dead (expletive),’” Lemonidis said Dunn heard from the teens. “And he sees that much of a shotgun coming up over the rim of the SUV, which is up higher than his Jetta, and all he sees are heavily tinted front windows that are up and the back windows that are down, and the car has at least four black men in it, and he doesn’t know how old anyone is, and he doesn’t know anything, but he knows a shotgun when he sees one because he got his first gun as a gift from his grandparents when he was in third grade.”
But the teenagers said they weren’t armed and police found no evidence to back up Dunn’s claims.
Davis’ parents have tried to downplay the racial aspect of the shooting, since Dunn is white, instead focusing on trying to get the Stand Your Ground law repealed.
“in the state of Florida, the best that we can do as Jordan’s parents is to get the stand your ground law repealed because what that is just a shield for people to go ahead and use their firearms without any type of other thought about human life,” said his father Ronald Davis. “So that’s why we’re going to repeal that.”
Davis’ mother, Lucia Kay McBath, said to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell that she wanted to focus on the “Stand your ground” law instead of the racial component that has been involved.
“Mr. Dunn is white and my son is black. But we’re not going to concentrate on that,” she said. “There needs to be an amendment to the Stand Your Ground laws. We’re not saying you don’t have a right to bear arms, because we can’t choose for you what you choose to do. But there needs to be accountability, there needs to be responsibility, you need to understand the means by which you can bear arms and protect yourself and that is something that really has to be addressed. So it’s not a black/white issue, it’s a nation issue. And people are operating in fear, people are afraid to walk out of their homes and I know that’s not what got intended for our country. I know that – we know that.”
Two of Dunn’s bullets struck and killed Jordan Davis. The other passengers in the car were left unharmed.
Lucia McBath is trying to get 25,000 signatures on an online petition by January 1, 2013. McBath wants to “Declare ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws illegal in accordance with federal law. Require states amend laws to match federal law.”