Note: Society has a habit of notarizing the accused. Their names, backgrounds, and details of their crimes are splashed on every breaking news headline. We become obsessed with the new face evil. They live in infamy for their atrocious crimes, but their victims…the victims are slowly forgotten. We distance ourselves from the victims by using nouns like “the student” or “the seventeen year old” rather than using their proper names.What does it mean to live in a society when the names George Zimmerman, Ted Bundy, and Jack the Ripper hold more weight than Trayvon Martin, Carol DeRonch, or Mary Ann Nichols? Maybe if headlines focused on the unfulfilled lives and the devastated families, we would breed a much more empathetic and kind society.
On November 23, 2012, Jordan Davis was murdered. Jordan, along with three of his friends, was waiting in a parking lot of a gas station. According to the defendant, Michael Dunn, their SUV was playing music so “ridiculously” loud his “ear drum[s] [were] vibrating.” After asking the teens to lower their music, the defendant claims Davis grew restless muttering threats and obscenities in the back seat. Despite being scared for his life, the defendant asks, “Are you talking to me?”
Pause. I don’t know about y’all, but when I ask, “are you talking to me” I’m not being literal. I’m slightly daring the other party to say it to my face. I’m asking to be tested, so I can pop off…
The defendant then claims Davis got out the backseat and says, “This shit is going down now.” Fearing for his life, after claiming to see the barrel of a gun, the defendant reaches into his glove compartment and fires at the SUV 10 times. The defendant even gets out of his car to continue shooting as the teens drive away.
When his fiancée comes out of the gas station, the defendant drives away from the scene of the crime, goes back to his hotel, and orders a pizza.
Now, let’s break down some of the details:
1) Frame of mind? The defendant just attended his son’s wedding. A son he’s seen three times in the past fifteen years. Everyone claims the defendant was happy after celebrating their union. The teens were returning from the mall.
2) Plea? The defendant is pleading not guilty under Florida’s stand your ground, which makes the alleged gun Davis had in his possession a huuuge component. Without that gun, the defendant could not have reasonably felt threatened for his life since there was no other altercation.
3) The fiancée claims the defendant never mentioned a gun to her when explaining the situation. The defendant, however, says he mentioned it numerous times to her.
4) The defendant never called 911 after the shooting (if you’re afraid there are a bunch of teens riding around threatening citizens, wouldn’t you call the police?)
5) The defendant never called 911 the next day after hearing Davis died. He claims to have called a friend in law enforcement, but his phone records show no phone calls. In fact, police had to track him down.
6) No gun was ever found. Although the crime scene was never properly secured (because no one called the police, ahem, Dunn) and there was adequate time for the gun to have been dumped.
7) As for the jury there are 4 white men, 1 Hispanic man, 4 white women, 2 black women, and 1 Asian-American woman.
What is crazy about this trial is that the defendant and his fiancée both took the stand, but everything the fiancée said contradicted everything the defendant said! What’s the end game? And, frankly, the facts don’t line up. If you fear for your life, ’till the point you have to continually fire, you should have called the police after the shooting or at least after you realized Davis died.
Now regardless of race, I believe the defendant is guilty of third degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. However, I can’t help but wonder how the outcome would change if there were three 17 year old white boys blasting rap music; or three 17 year old females blasting music? What if the music was Macklemore’s The Heist versus Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city? Would the defendant still feel intimidated? Annoyed? Disrespected? Would he still use a deadly weapon? Would he nonchalantly ask for a magazine and refreshments while waiting to be questioned about murder in the police station?
Our black boys are being forced to grow up too quickly. While the bodies of our black girls are hyper-sexualized, the bodies of our black boys are hyper-masculinized to immediately be seen as a threat and danger.
Do you believe the defendant felt threatened and genuinely fearful of his life when he fired 10 shot at the SUV? Or do you believe the loud rap music, disrespected this 47 year old white man to such extremes that in order to reassert his masculinity he fired 10 shots?
UPDATE: Dunn has been found guilty on 4 out 5 counts, with the manslaughter count being mistried with a hung jury. Dunn is facing at least 60 years for the 4 counts.
UPDATE: A new jury found Dunn guilty of manslaughter in early October.