The trial of Michael Dunn, a white Floridian who fatally shot an unarmed black teen after complaining about his “thug music,” came to a contentious end last week when a jury deadlocked over the charge of first-degree murder, but convicted Dunn of three counts of attempted murder for firing at the deceased teenager’s friends. The confrontation occurred at a Jacksonville gas station in 2012, when Dunn, 47, asked 17-year-old Jordan Davis and his three friends to turn down the rap music in their SUV. Dunn testified that he acted in self-defense when he fired 10 shots from a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol, saying he’d seen Davis wield an object resembling a shotgun. But investigators found no evidence of a shotgun. “Jordan Davis didn’t have a weapon. He had a big mouth,” said prosecutor John Guy. “That defendant wasn’t going to stand for it, and it cost Jordan Davis his life.”
Dunn’s lawyer said his client was “devastated” by the verdict, which leaves him facing a possible 60-year sentence. Prosecutors also decried the verdict and said they would seek a retrial on the first-degree murder charge.
“We are stuck in some sort of disturbing pattern,” said Al Sharpton in HuffingtonPost.com. An innocent black teen is shot to death, and America simply stands by as a jury yet again fails “to deliver appropriate justice.” It happened with Trayvon Martin; it happened with Jordan Davis; and it’ll continue to happen as long as the law stands by white men who justify homicide by “simply stating they feared for their life.”
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Yet “events unfolded quickly” in this case, said Robert VerBruggen in RealClearPolicy.com. Even after 30 hours of deliberation, jurors failed to find Dunn guilty on any murder charge. So exploiting this difficult case to “pick at the formerly healing scab of racial disharmony” isn’t just inappropriate, said Ross Kaminsky in The American Spectator. It’s “dangerous.”
Still, America seems to be in the throes of a “‘Dirty Harry’ epidemic,” said Jamelle Bouie in Time.com. In the minds of Michael Dunn and many others, Jordan Davis wasn’t just a black teenager—he was one of those rap-listening “thugs who can turn violent” at any moment. A teen like Davis dies when he encounter the white man who feels “he has no choice but to stop him.”
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