The Next Case: The REAL Test Case

In a tale of two murders, the victims were very much alike. Both had the same teenage passions that all 17-year-olds have. Both teens were born in February, both were killed (though miles apart) in Florida, and both in the same year.

Both had loving parents who had divorced, leaving a void that only a child’s heart could feel. And both of these 17-year-old teens were black. Yet, one is now a household name. The other, some people may have never heard of – yet.

They now share a common legacy. Each was killed by someone who had the option to invoke Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law. The shooter in each case has never showed or expressed public remorse, and neither shooter claimed stand your ground immunity. At least, in one case – not yet.

Trayvon Martin
Trayvon Martin

Yet, the differences are all too clear. Trayvon Martin, whose name is now a legend, may have even been considered ‘thuggish’ by some standards.

He was alone when he was killed in a quiet apartment complex on a rainy February night in Sanford, Florida two years ago by George Zimmerman, a Peruvian-white man, with no apparent witnesses to the shot being fired. Zimmerman waited for police, was questioned, and released, but wasn’t arrested until months later, after a public outcry.

The trial lasted a month, and Zimmerman was acquitted on July 13, 2013, leading to protests, marches, petitions, boycott threats, demonstrations, a fear of riots across America, and a nationwide call from media, civil rights groups, and others to end stand your ground laws.

Jordan Davis, in comparison, could possibly be considered a ‘choirboy’ in comparison. The family attorney, John Philips, has said Davis was an “all-American kid”.

Nine months after Martin was killed, Davis sat in the back seat next to a friend in an SUV, with another friend in the front passenger seat, waiting for the driver who had gone inside the store at a bustling, lit-up Jacksonville gas station the night after Thanksgiving, on November 23, 2012.

A Volkswagen Jetta pulled into a parking spot next to the SUV booming Chief Keef’s rap music. The driver, a 47-year-old white guy named Michael Dunn, waited as his girlfriend went inside the store to buy wine. Dunn later told police he “ordered them to turn the music down”.

Jordan Davis
Jordan Davis

According to Rolling Stone, the friend in the front passenger seat turned the sound down, but Davis reached over the console and cranked it back up. He and Dunn threw f-bombs at each other as the SUV driver got back into the driver’s seat.

Dunn said, “You’re not gonna talk to me like that”, reached into his glove compartment for a 9mm gun, and began firing, killing Davis in the back seat. Dunn was arrested the next day, after police traced his license plate, and has been in jail awaiting trial ever since.

While Dunn has not yet claimed stand your ground immunity. He has claimed he felt threatened and claims he saw the barrel of a gun in the SUV, but no gun was ever found.

A real test case for stand-your-ground is coming early next year. Dunn’s trial, originally scheduled to start September 23, was rescheduled to February 3, 2014 at the behest of his attorneys.

Maybe this will be America’s real wake up call, so that many people who still think stand-your-ground law is all good will see the loopholes, see how it actually jeopardizes society, realize it is in fact a very dangerous, flawed law, and take action by starting over to change it.


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