The trial for Michael Dunn, a Florida man who shot and killed a Black teenager after they began arguing over loud music at a gas station, begins today and is eerily similar to the tragic case of Trayvon Martin.
Ever since Dunn shot and killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis in November 2012, two questions were inevitably asked: Will Dunn be the next George Zimmerman and will Jordan Davis be the next Trayvon Martin?
Dunn is facing charges of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder after he fired several shots into the SUV that contained Davis and three of his friends.
The altercation started when Dunn asked the group of boys to turn down their music at the gas station. Dunn alleges that a verbal altercation led to death threats and a shot gun was pointed at him.
Police who responded to the incident found no weapon inside the car.
Dunn insisted that he was afraid for his life and that’s why he shot Davis, who was sitting in the back seat of the SUV.
Lance deHaven-Smith, a Florida State University public policy professor and former president of the Florida Political Science Association, said that the death of yet another Black teenager is exposing a frightening truth about “Stand Your Ground” laws.
“It gives the appearance that Stand Your Ground law – even if Dunn does not use it (as a defense) – authorizes and encourages shooting African-American men,” deHaven-Smith said.
While the family’s attorney, John Phillips, has decided not to center the case around race, Dunn wrote several letters that suggest he based his decision to shoot Davis off the fact that he thought the young boy was a “thug.”
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A series of other letters and phone calls have recorded Dunn calling the victim a string of other “alleged racial comments,” according to court documents. However, Dunn’s attorney is asking that these are not brought to court as evidence.
Phillips says the shooting is an example of a blatant lack of value for another person’s life.
“It is about respect for the person next to you,” Phillips said. “Some do not value life because of different races, lifestyle choices, religions and a host of other ignorant reasons.”
Dunn’s attorney, Cory Strolla, insists that the truth will come out at the end of the trial and his client will walk away a free man.
“We fully expect that the testimony of the young men will prove that they conjured up a story four days after the incident to protect their friend, Jordan Davis, from his threats and violent actions against Mr. Dunn,” Strolla said.
Davis’s family plans to attend most, if not all, of the trials and said that they have to find out exactly what happened to their son and why.
Reporters will not be allowed into the courtroom for today’s proceedings.