Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Jordan Davis Killing: Race, Guns and the Law...Can We Please Talk About These Things?

Once again, eyes this week were on a Florida jury in a case of the shooting death of an unarmed black teenage boy, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, by a defendant claiming innocence under Florida's self defense laws.  Davis was a passenger in an SUV parked at a convenience store.  Michael Dunn, who was in car next to the SUV, complained about the loud music coming out of Davis and his friends' vehicle.  A brief argument precipitated Dunn's shooting into the SUV.  Dunn said he felt threatened by Davis, who Dunn claimed pointed a shotgun at him.  No gun was ever found at the scene.   Dunn was convicted of three counts of second-degree attempted murder (for firing on the three other teens in the SUV; none of them was struck), but the jury deadlocked on the more serious charge of first degree murder and the lesser offenses that are included as options to the jury: second- and third- degree murder and manslaughter.  Dunn could be facing at least 60 years in prison.

As the New York Times reports:

The case was steeped in racial overtones. Mr. Dunn, 47, is white, and the teenagers black. It also drew renewed attention to Florida’s expansive self-defense laws that allow people who say they feel threatened to use lethal force to protect themselves. The trial began six months after the verdict in another high-profile case that focused on race, in which George Zimmerman was acquitted in the fatal shooting of a black teenager, Trayvon Martin.

The 12 jurors, who had been sequestered since Feb. 6, consisted of four white men, four white women, two black women, one Hispanic man and one Asian-American woman. Some black leaders expressed disappointment that there were no black men on the jury.

Please read the NYT article linked to above.  Fifth period, we will be discussing this in class this week as we prepare for our visit from a judge on Thursday, where we are set to discuss due process, trials, juries, charges, etc.   Others, let's get some thinking and commenting going...

You also might check out this mini-doc by Orlando Bagwell ("Eyes on the Prize"), called "When Music Turned Deadly."

1 comment:

  1. Ms Jay, it is the guns.We live in a country that is still very racist in places and we need to doeal with that big time.That is why you can have an older white guy so freaked out about rap music coming from a car with black kids and even if it is not racist it is race fear for sure.But it is the guns that take it to the next level.