Shooting death of black teen puts Florida law back under spotlight

MIAMI Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:47pm EST

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MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida man appeared in court on Wednesday to face charges in the shooting death of an apparently unarmed black teenager in a case putting Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law back under the U.S. media spotlight less than a year after the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Michael Dunn, 45, is being held without bail on charges of second-degree murder for the Friday night shooting of Jordan Davis, who was also 17.

According to authorities, Dunn pulled into the parking lot of a Jacksonville, Florida, gas station alongside the SUV where Davis and three friends, all of them young African Americans, were listening to music.

Dunn asked them to turn their music down and, after an apparent exchange of words with Davis, he produced a gun and fired eight or nine shots at the SUV. At least two of the bullets hit Davis, causing his death.

Dunn, who was in Jacksonville for his son's wedding, sped off after the shooting but he was arrested on Saturday in Brevard County, Florida, police said.

Dunn's lawyer, Robin Lemonidis, told reporters that someone in the SUV brandished a shotgun and Dunn opened fire on the vehicle in self-defense.

"It will be very clear that Mr. Dunn acted responsibly, and as any responsible firearms owner would have acted, under these same circumstances," Lemonidis said.

She could not be reached for further comment on Wednesday but appeared to indicate that Dunn will invoke Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law in his defense.

The law gives legal protection to anyone, anywhere, to use deadly force in a case where a person is attacked and believes his life or safety is in danger.

Critics say the law, adopted under former Florida Governor Jeb Bush after a big push by pro-gun advocates, has been used to allow some Floridians to shoot and kill with impunity while also encouraging vigilante justice.

The law fell under a firestorm of criticism earlier this year when police in Sanford, Florida, cited it for their initial refusal to arrest George Zimmerman to face murder charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Police say no shotgun or other weapon was found in the SUV where Davis, a high school student, was shot and killed.

Formal charges against Dunn will be filed at a court appearance set for December 19, said Jackie Barnard, a spokeswoman for the State Attorney's office for the Fourth Judicial District of Florida.

"The investigation is ongoing and we're waiting for the sheriff's office to finish their investigation," she said. "We'll review the evidence and the State Attorney's office will make the appropriate charging decision."

(Reporting by Tom Brown; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (6)
WallyGeez wrote:
I’m sure the anti-gun leftists would have been completely silent if the 3 “youths” would have gunned down the 45 year old white guy.

Nov 28, 2012 8:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse
bobber1956 wrote:
Actually it was 2 black youths about a year ago in NY and they killed an 86 year old white man for his wallet and no there was never one word from the left.

Nov 28, 2012 9:02pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Evo1 wrote:
This has nothing to do with Florida law. If the teenager had a shotgun, as the shooter is claiming, then he would be justified under the laws of every state in the country in shooting him. If he did not, then he would be guilty of murder under the laws of every state, including Florida. Florida’s law is not at all unusual. Most states have some form of a ‘stand your ground’ law. California, the state with gun control laws rated the very strictest by the Brady Campaign, recognizes ‘stand your ground’ as their law, and has for far longer than Florida has had such a law. The US Supreme Court has ruled, multiple times, for over 150 years, that ‘Stand Your Ground’ is the basic legal principle in self-defense under US law.

In fact, the phrase ‘Stand Your Ground’, and the basic wording of Florida’s law, both come directly from one of those Supreme Court cases. And until Florida passed the law just 5 years ago, the state had one of the strictest self-defense laws in the country. The new law didn’t make Florida’s laws more lax than the rest of the country, it brought it in line with the rest of the country. Florida’s law just gets so much criticism because it’s new, even though it is basically the same as the law in the vast majority of the other states, which have had such laws for decades.

Nov 28, 2012 11:20pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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