Once again, the state of Florida will became the center of a media firestorm in the coming days thanks to another shooting of an unarmed black 17 year old by a white man who felt "threatened." On Friday night at a Jacksonville gas station, Michael Dunn, 45, gunned down Jordan Davis, 17. According to reports, Dunn, who is white, was waiting in his car while his wife was inside the station, asked — or told — a car occupied by youths parked next to his to turn the volume down of their stereo. Allegedly, an argument ensued, which ended up with Dunn, firing at least eight shots, Davis dying, according to authorities.
Dunn insists that he believed one of his interlocutors had a gun, and that he acted in self-defense. However, no firearms were found in the vehicle. His attorney, Robin Lemonidis, has been quick to dismiss comparisons to the shooting of 17 year old Travyon Martin by 28 year old George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida in February. Zimmerman has been charged with second degree murder, and his trial is scheduled to commence in June. The defense's strategy will likely rely heavily upon Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law, which allows an individual to use deadly force when one perceives a threat to one's personal safety.
Critics of "stand your ground" statutes argue that it makes certain cases extremely difficult to prosecute by allowing citizens who use deadly force to hide behind self-defense, with the prosecution sometimes having to convince the jury that the accused did not in fact fear for his safety. Such a burden of proof can be a significant one to bear, as it requires the prosecution to ascertain and convey to a jury the defendant's psychological state at the time the crime was committed.
According to CNN, Lemonidas is keeping options open when it comes to her client's strategy. "Self defense applies because Mr. Dunn was threatened," Lemonidis said. "We can't say what the defense will be at this stage ... but stand your ground is a possibility."
While a "stand your ground" defense is only a mere "possibility" in this case at this point, what is a certainty is that this is about to become another full-fledged Floridian media freakshow. It'll only be a matter of time before the 9-1-1 recording is released, and all of America will get to play amateur detective. Meanwhile, the pundit class will divide themselves into the usual camps. Some right-wingers, such as Ann Coulter, will assert the inalienable right of scared white guys to gun down black people under the pretense of having felt threatened. Some left-wingers, such as Al Sharpton, are probably already headed to Jacksonville for some transparent self-aggrandizement, and, if there's time, an impassioned defense of the victim's integrity and innocence.
Either way, in this sluggish post-election news cycle, the media will be clamoring for more information and gossip, and will report all of it post haste. It's actually somewhat sickening.
Be sure to stay with PolicyMic for all the latest updates and developments in this on-going investigation!