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Scoot: "Loud music" trial verdict proves Justice not blind

A black man pulled into a convenience store at a gas station. In the SUV next to him 4 white teenagers were blaring music the black man didn’t like. After the black man told the white teenagers to turn down the music there was an argument, and then the black man pulled a gun out of the glove compartment of his vehicle and shot and killed a 17-year-old white teen. 

The black man proceeded to fire rounds into the SUV with the white teenagers as it pulled away. The black man had been drinking, and after shooting a 17-year-old white teenager, he left the scene. He went to his hotel with his fiancée – ordered pizza and made a drink – never calling 911 to report the incident. The black man was on trial for 1st-degree murder but the jury could not come to an agreement on that charge. However, the black man now faces up to 60 years in prison on attempted murder charges.

Why would a black man be allowed to get away with murdering a 17-year-old white teenager over loud music? Why was the black man only convicted of attempted murder. Is this justice?

If the real-life story of 47-year-old Michael Dunn and 17-year-old Jordan Davis was about a black man killing a white teenager over loud music, the outrage and the outcome of the trial would probably be quite different.

The guilty verdict on three counts of 2nd degree murder and firing at a vehicle and a mistrial on the 1st degree murder charge were stunning – more stunning than the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman. The good news is that Michael Dunn faces 60 years in prison because he is a reckless gun owner who seemed to use a gun to avenge his anger at being disrespected by a group of black teenagers. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to own a gun for protection – NOT for avenging anger or protecting pride.

Michael Dunn is a poster boy for irresponsible gun ownership and the guilty verdicts on attempted murder, which should send him to prison for arguably the rest of his life, should be celebrated. But the failure of the jury to find Dunn guilty of murder based on evidence that seemed to paint a clear picture of a white man who allowed prejudice while under the influence of alcohol to drive him to kill a teenager and that casts a dark shadow on the mentality of some who sit on juries.

Admittedly, I judge the conclusions of the jury in the Michael Dunn trial from my perspective in the court of public opinion and I accept the verdicts as part of the workings of our system of justice – but I don’t have to agree with them. I accepted, but disagreed with, the verdicts in the George Zimmerman trial, the Casey Anthony trial and the trial of the four Los Angeles police officers for the beating of Rodney King. I am pleased with the decision by State Attorney Angela Corey to retry Dunn for 1st degree murder.

Though it shouldn’t matter – the jury was made up of four white men, four white women, two black men, one Asian female and one Hispanic man. The jury could not reach agreement on the murder charge even though a teenager was murdered.

According to a report on USAToday.com, “Dunn showed no emotion as the verdicts were read. But afterwards, he turned to his lawyer, Cory Strolla, and asked, ‘How is this happening?’” Strolla said his client and his family are devastated by the verdicts.  I’m sure the family of Jordan Davis is devastated as well.

As I talked about this trial on WWL, I received a few texts and calls from people who supported Michael Dunn’s actions as appropriate recourse for black teenagers playing loud music and showing disrespect.  I received an email from a listener that rambled on about black men who want to beat up “crackers” should make sure the “crackers” don’t have guns. Then the email mentioned Darwin’s Theory of survival of the fittest.

Michael Dunn claimed self-defense and testified that his life was threatened. He even testified that the black teenager had a shotgun. No shotgun or firearm of any kind was found.

There is one very important aspect of this case that all of those who sympathize with Michael Dunn are missing. IF Michael Dunn felt threatened after telling the teenagers to turn down the music – evidence seems to indicate that Dunn could have ended it – but instead forced the situation to escalate.

The inherit problem with the new “stand your ground” mentality is that it removes the responsibility to retreat if retreat is possible. This seems to be interpreted to mean that it is open season on anyone who you think is threatening you.

Michael Dunn’s perception of a threat to his life may have come from his biased opinion of black male youths – rather than an actual threat with a mythical shotgun. And would Michael Dunn have perceived the same threat to his life if the teenagers had been white?

Furthermore, is this another case of a man voluntarily engaging others because of the security of a gun in his vehicle? Guns are not supposed to give you confidence to confront others – guns are for protection!

If reaction to the mistrial on murder charges in the Michael Dunn trial is guided by the idea that the lives of young black males are not as precious and valuable as young white males – then America has not progressed since the days of slavery.  And that is a sad and embarrassing thought.

I remember when I was 17 and if a 40+ year-old man told me to turn down the music I was listening to – I probably would have told him that my music was none of his business and I would have defied his request.  Be honest when you think about the times you were disrespectful as a teenager. 

I am not supporting disrespect and teenagers should be respectful, but in the America I know, we don’t shoot and kill people for being disrespectful!

My hope is that even though he was not convicted of murder that Michael Dunn’s prison sentence will set an example for those who own a gun for the wrong reasons!

Tags :  
Topics : Law_CrimeSocial Issues
Social :
People : Angela CoreyCasey AnthonyCory StrollaGeorge ZimmermanJordan DavisMichael DunnRodney King

02/16/2014 7:32PM
Please Enter Your Comments Below
02/17/2014 12:32AM
Bottom Line
I read a quote that said something along the lines of "the value of a black life is based on the safety of a white person". It seems that as long as a white person claims they felt threatened, any harm brought to that black person is justified by our court system, no matter how incorrect that feeling of threat turns out to be. And for those who wish to compare these cases to OJ Simpson being acquitted, understand this: we KNOW Michael Dunn killed Jordan Davis. We KNOW George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. We only ASSUME OJ Simpson killed Nicole Brown.
02/17/2014 8:08AM
The word you were looking for is "inherent"...
Not "inherit".
02/17/2014 8:46AM
Conviction and no-conviction
Scoot, Thanks for you comments. I feel thank you have spoken very clearly to the issues of race and gun use in Florida. It's sad to live in a state that recently instituted what amounts to a Jim Crow law against blacks and non-dominant minorities (any non-Anglo Christian male) under the guise of self defense. You are right when you say that Dunn's pride and expected respect from a black youth is why Jordan Davis is dead. Your assumption that this case's resolution would have been completely different had the races of those involved been reversed is absolutely correct. I feel that I grew up in the twentieth century in Florida which then turned back into the nineteenth century instead of evolving into the twenty first. I call the 'stand you ground' law the 'kill any ###### (fill in the minority you hate the most) you want law'. The problem is that too many people who have guns have them because they do feel 'threatened' all of the time for imaginary or unjustified reasons and are the last people who should have deadly weapons in hand, but who are now licensed to kill when they are triggered (excuse the pun). I think I am leaving Florida and moving to a saner place. To those who who say good riddance to me- I say the same to them. But also, watch your back- you could anger somebody next week in a public place and end up dead.
02/17/2014 10:14AM
2nd Degree conviction justified
First degree murder is pre-planned. That is to say, one has to have a specific ideation of killing a specific human being, and take steps to prepare for the killing. This man apparently acted on drunken impulse, and illegally took a life, which constitutes Second Degree murder, and should receive the maximum sentence allowable by Louisiana law. Obviously, this was not a killing in self-defense.
02/17/2014 11:48AM
The Jury Spoke
Scoot, you are the kind of a person that would get mugged and accept it. If this guy would have been found guilty of first degree murder then everyone on his side would have to accept it as well. I believe in the justice system...do you?
02/17/2014 12:51PM
murder no doubt
He murdered this kid and even thought he will get jail time but not nearly enough. Dunn is a "hot headed drunk" who thinks he is never wrong. Needs to go away for ever.
02/17/2014 5:03PM
fear rules
Those who believe that Mr. Dunn should have been acquitted based on his claims of self-defense also believe that one's personal fear provides singular and sufficient justification to kill someone, regardless of how reasonable that fear may be. The problem is, ALL people walking around with concealed weapons start out with a certain amount of fear as their baseline. Why else would they be carrying weapons if not for the fact that they are afraid that their environment is dangerous, and that at any moment they will have to defend themselves from their own boogey-man. Any jury that has a member with a concealed weapons permit will have a difficult time reaching a guilty verdict in a case such as this, because that jury member lives the fear, the 24 x 7 danger, that Dunn used as his justification for killing an unarmed teenager. The armed segment of our population fancies itself as tough, macho and unwilling to give ground. They leave out the part of living in constant fear.
02/17/2014 5:41PM
The law
First Degree Murder. intent to kill premeditation and deliberation. Second Degree Murder. intentional killing; by extremely reckless conduct, intent to cause serious bodily harm, Deadly weapon doctrine. I care nothing about race. This was murder but clearly not premeditated. The prosecution should have gone for second degree murder. And I ask all of you, yes Zimmerman is an idiot, but if Travon Martin or anyone is bashing your skull into cement and you have a gun, would you shoot him? The idea that any of these situations would be reversed on race is pure gratuitous speculation. In both these cases the law defined the outcome, not race.
02/17/2014 6:42PM
It is good to see mr McCabe got his job back today. He was framed by a lying black police officer that was incompetent
02/17/2014 8:16PM
He's Back
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/george-zimmerman-announces-plans-to-become-a-lawyer-to-stop-miscarriages-of-justice-9134629.html Oh the irony.
02/17/2014 10:59PM
Which is the biggest issue
Is the race of the young man the biggest issue or the irresponsible use of a gun? I got a glimpse of the red vehicle that had been shot ten times. It really makes a lasting impression of the bullet holes in the vehicle.
02/17/2014 11:39PM
I told my husband the same analogy back in 2012. And he said...exactly!
02/18/2014 12:20AM
What If
More African-Americans in this country started open carrying where legal, and "standing their ground." I wonder how some Caucasians in this country would react?
02/18/2014 12:23AM
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