Dunn Verdict Increases Debate

A Florida jury gave its verdict on Saturday on a case that involved the killing of a teenager at the hands of a white man.  Florida man Michael Dunn will be facing a possible retrial for the attempted murder charge.  The verdict has increased debate around the country.  The charges against Dunn were based on his openly firing on an  SUV that was occupied by three teenagers, and one of them, Jordan Davis, died.  Dunn has been convicted of attempted murder, among other charges, on Saturday, February 15, in Jacksonville, Florida, and the prosecutors want to try him for first degree murder charges in the retrial.  The argument was triggered over the loud music coming from the vehicle in a store parking area.

From 10 shots that Dunn fired, three of them hit the lungs, liver, and aorta of Jordan Davis.  Dunn said he witnessed a gun, thus, it was act of self-protection.  The verdict of Florida jury in Dunn’s case is stimulating concerns and increasing debate on self-defense rule.  The Florida State Attorney, Angela Corey’s, rulings on recent trials that involved death of unarmed African American teenagers, shot by white men, in an act of self-defense, is raising crucial debates.  In the Trayvon Martin and the Jordan Davis cases, Florida’s self-defense rule is challenged because the shooter was not convicted of first degree murder.

Michael Dunn, 47, is a software engineer, who on November 23, 2012, opened fire on a vehicle of teenagers outside a store in Jacksonville, in all expending 10 bullets.  In the shooting, Jordan Davis, 17, was murdered.  However, Dunn only faced three counts of attempted murder with the possibility of 60 years in prison after Saturday’s jury ruling.  The jury could not come to a decision regarding the first degree murder charge.  There were 12 people on the jury and they struggled for days before giving their verdict.  The judge declared a mistrial on the first degree murder charge in the case, leaving Dunn facing the conviction on the attempted murder and other charges.

Furthermore, the panel of judges and attorneys will be meeting in the upcoming month.  The defense attorney Cory Strolla said that he will be appealing the ruling on the case.  In the trial, Dunn’s attorney said it was clear act of self-defense, when Davis threatened Dunn and Dunn saw a weapon, and he shot.  Nonetheless, there was no gun found by the police.  Strolla explained before the ruling that Zimmerman’s case ruling has increased media and political pressure.  It has been six months since George Zimmerman’s acquittal that involved Trayvon Martin’s death.  Zimmerman was acquitted of shooting the teenager as he claimed self-defense in Florida.  The media and people around the United States are debating on these rulings given by the Florida jury.

Additionally, the senior counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Vincent Southerland, said that the jury ruling on Davis death reassures the organization of what they were already aware of – the racial difference.  Black kids instantly appear dangerous to the white man.  How come Dunn did not see an unarmed teenager hanging out with his friends in the SUV.  He was so frightened by the teenager that only on the volume issue he ends up massively shooting the car and killing the innocent boy.  The members of jury included only two African American women, one Asian woman, one Hispanic man, and the majority were white men and women.

On Sunday, if Davis was alive, he would have celebrated his 19th birthday with his parents.  However, his tragic demise has saddened his family and friends.  The father of Jordan Davis, Ron Davis, explained that his teenage son was a “good child” and he should have not been murdered only over a dispute about the volume of music.  The Dunn verdict has increased crucial concern and debate.

By Iqra Amjad




Great Falls Tribune