- Faith & Family
On Friday, Nov. 23rd, just one day after acknowledging his love for his family and friends, Jordan Russell Davis, 17, was sitting in the parking lot of a Jacksonville gas station/convenience store listening to music along with three other friends in an SUV. As fate would have it, a white male from Brevard County, 45-year-old Michael David Dunn, pulled into the same lot with his girlfriend. The couple was in town
for Dunn’s son’s wedding. They parked next to the four Black teens. According to reports, while the girlfriend went into the store, Dunn, bothered by the volume of the teens’ music, told Davis and his friends to turn their music down.
What happened next will not be fully known until testimony plays out in a Duval County [the scene of the crime] courtroom. What is certain is that after an exchange of words, Dunn began shooting with a handgun — firing off eight or nine rounds. Davis, sitting in the back seat, was struck twice. No one else in the vehicle was injured. Dunn says he shot after seeing the butt of a rifle and was therefore in fear of his life. Authorities did not find a shotgun in the vehicle.
Why did the murderer flee?
Dunn, a known firearms collector who according to authorities shot at local gun ranges, drove off after his girlfriend returned to the car — spending the night at a local hotel. Witnesses had taken down his license plate number and he was arrested some 159 miles away from the scene on Saturday morning at his home in Satellite Beach. Why did he flee?
“He didn’t think he had harmed anybody and he just thought he had scared them [the four youth] off and he wanted to report it, but he didn’t want to go in a sense throw himself to the wolves, in a strange city without representation,” said his attorney, Robin Lemonidis.
Davis’ mother, Lucia McBath, states that while she doesn’t know what the youth or Dunn said to one another, that there’s “No logical reason, there’s nothing logical you can say to make me think [he] was threatened . . . We don’t know where he was or what kind of dark place [Dunn] was in at that moment but something snapped in that man . . . So we’re not looking at it as a hate crime because that’s not going to honor Jordan.”
Dunn has been charged with second degree murder. As his defense, he is employing Florida’s controversial ‘Stand Your Ground Law.’ At this point, it is unclear whether or not his self-defense claim is justified as the law itself is vague in detailing what constitutes a person feeling ‘threatened’ and therefore within their right to fire back and stand their ground.
But there is one thing that is crystal clear: Another unarmed Black teen has been murdered at the hands of a gun-wielding white man who claims that he fired because he was in fear of his life.
Murder puts Florida
back in the spotlight
Davis’s death comes just a few short weeks after Governor Rick Scott’s task force concluded its rounds of listening to public citizens share their views on the State’s stand your ground law. Ironically, no public hearing was ever held in Miami-Dade County — the home of Trayvon Martin — whose killer, George Zimmerman, remains out on bond as the time of his hearing approaches. Despite phone calls and e-mails to both Scott and Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, we have been unable to ascertain when the Governor will review the task force’s findings and make his recommendations.
But several local politicians say action should be taken to protect others from being shot and killed under the guise of standing their ground.
“We’ve looked at this from both a legal and practical standpoint and they all point to the need to repeal this law,” said recently-elected State Senator Dwight Bullard. “But it stands to reason that those who fought so hard to get this law on the books will now fight just as hard to keep it. This case in Jacksonville puts added pressure on the task force, the Governor and policy makers — both those who have been newly-elected and those who are returning to Tallahassee. More than anyone, those who have supported stand your ground in the past were clenching their teeth, hoping this new vigilante [Dunn] would not try to use the law as a means of his defense. It doesn’t matter whether he does or not. What matters is we have a law that gives people a loophole. It gives lawyers a way to get their clients off despite having committed murder. It’s up to policy makers to change the law so things like this cannot continue to happen.”
State Representative Barbara Watson has been opposed to the law since its inception.
“The report from the Governor’s task force was projected to be ready when we returned to Tallahassee this week for our annual committee week,” she said. “Now we’re hearing that it won’t be ready until we return to session in March. I watched the recording showing them preparing their presentation for the legislature and it appears they are still struggling over the law’s wording. Meanwhile, we have two similar cases where young Black boys have been senseless murdered. We have given private citizens a license to kill without being held responsible for their actions. they can hide behind this law and it’s unfair to the victims and to their families.”
State Representative Cynthia Stafford says that she, along with Bullard, are preparing legislation for the next session to counteract the effects of the stand your ground law.
“The way the statute currently exists, it yields deadly consequences, particularly for people who were engaged in everyday, innocent activities — like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis,” Stafford said. “We want to amend the statute so that people cannot use this law as an excuse to shoot unarmed people.”
Davis was buried on Saturday, Dec. 1st. Social media continues to be the most prevalent means of public discourse on the young man’s tragic death. Davis lived with his father in Florida, but was buried in Georgia, where he was born. His mother lives outside of Atlanta.
And in other news, Miami Dade College student James Arauz, was in court on Friday, Nov. 30, in the first day of his trial. He stabbed to death his mother’s employer and is seeking immunity under the stand your ground law.
By D. Kevin McNeir