Three years ago today, on November 23, 2012, Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old white male, bickered with a group of teenagers over the volume of their music at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. Three and a half minutes later, Dunn fired 10 bullets into their car and fled the scene. While Dunn went back home and ordered a pizza, Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old black teenager, died. Jordan Davis’ parents, Ron Davis and Lucia McBath’s, turbulent journey toward justice plays out in 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets, a documentary airing tonight at 9pm on HBO. Directed by Marc Silver, 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and won a Special Jury Award for Social Impact.
The documentary reconstructs that agonizing night, showing the parent’s desperate search for answers about their son and the trial of Michael Dunn. It also exposes a flawed justice system. In an interview with NPR, Ms. McBath describes Dunn’s thought process during those three life altering minutes.
“He called them thugs. He called them gang bangers – that they had a gun. You know, he, within the first three and a half minutes, he sized up those boys and decided that they were thugs. He already racially profiled them,” she said.
One of the aspects the documentary highlights is the never before seen footage of Dunn’s cries of victimhood. Leaning on Florida’s stand your ground statue throughout the trial, Dunn states in one clip he was akin to a rape victim.
“I just can’t shake the notion that I’m, like, you know—I’m the rape girl that they’re blaming because I was wearing skimpy clothes. Like, I’m the victim that’s being blamed. I was attacked, and I refused to be the victim. And now — now I’m being punished for it,” he said.
Jordan Davis’s murder came nine months after the murder of Trayvon Martin. Though Martin’s parents were robbed of their justice, Ron Davis and Lucia McBath were one of the few who saw justice when Dunn was convicted. Even so, the foreboding specter of death continues to channel through senseless violence and snatch young, Black lives.
Ron Davis says his outlook on life has changed after the dust has settled.
“The next time you say goodbye to somebody might very well be goodbye because when I said goodbye to Jordan on Black Friday, and I gave him some money to go to the mall, and I’m hugged him and said, I’ll see you tonight, you couldn’t tell me that I wouldn’t ever, ever see my son alive again,” he said.
Davis’ death and the resolve of his parents helped create a climate for necessary challenge and hopeful change.
3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets airs tonight on HBO at 9 p.m.