First Trayvon Martin, Then Jordan Davis, Now Roy Middleton

First there was Trayvon Martin, then Jordan Davis, and now this: Two days ago, yet another unarmed black man was shot in Florida. His crime? Standing in his own front yard, outside his mother's home, searching for a cigarette.

Early Saturday morning, Roy Middleton's mother Ceola Walker woke up to the sound of a volley of gunshots and the news that her 60-year-old son had been shot by Escambia County police on suspicion of burglary.

According to Pensacola News Journal, "Middleton, who lives with his mother in the 200 block of Shadow Lawn Lane in Warrington, had been searching for a loose cigarette in his mother's car early that morning" when an unnamed neighbor, watching Middleton as he searched for a cigarette, called 911 to report a burglary.

While Middleton was still outside, police responding to the burglary call arrived and shouted at him to step away from his mother's car. According to Middleton, he complied with police and stepped away from his own family's car despite being utterly confused, but police inexplicably fired on him anyway — multiple times, with probable intent to kill. 

"It was like a firing squad," he said later from his hospital bed. "Bullets were flying everywhere."

Ceola Walker's car was peppered by a volley of bullets intended for her son, and her son's left thigh will now require the insertion of a metal rod due to shattered bones. It is unclear who will pay for the damage to Walker's car.

Fortunately, Middleton is currently in good condition — most of the bullets obviously missed — and Walker expects her son to come home in a few days. 

The incident is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the deputies who responded to the call have been placed on administrative leave. Nonetheless, the Escambia County Sheriff's Office has refused to release the names of the officers involved in the shooting. 

Sheriff David Morgan will hold a press conference to discuss the incident at 3 p.m. today.

"I'd like to know why they didn't check the car out, and why they had to fire so many shots. They haven't said anything," Middleton's mother said, adding that she is thankful nonetheless because the outcome of that morning could have been much worse for the husband and father of two.

"He could've been killed. The Lord shielded him," she said.

As for me, I am left wondering two things: First, why did deputies think it necessary to shoot at Middleton multiple times, in a hail of bullets that probably should have killed him? Second, why does Florida have such a problem with shooting unarmed black males? 

Whatever the answers, these recent shootings in Florida prove one thing: Stereotypes can be deadly.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Michael Shammas

Second-year Harvard Law student, politico, Breaking Bad fan, cynical idealist, coffee addict, & Duke sports fanatic. Contact me at mshammas@jd16.law.harvard.edu.

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