The controversial verdict in the Trayvon Martin shooting case has sparked new attention on the killing of Jordan Davis, another unarmed African-American 17-year-old fatally shot in Florida by a civilian who alleges that he felt threatened. But Davis’ accused shooter, 45-year-old Michael David Dunn, may have a much tougher time avoiding prison than did George Zimmerman, the acquitted killer of Trayvon Martin.
Jordan Davis and three friends were listening to music in a Dodge Durango parked at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida when a Volkswagen Jetta containing Dunn and is girlfriend, Rhonda Rouer, pulled into the adjacent space. After Rouer went into a nearby store to buy wine, Dunn got out of his car and complained about the loud music from the Durango. There was a verbal exchange. Dunn drew a handgun and fired at least eight rounds into the vehicle, striking Davis.
Dunn and his girlfriend drove to a hotel where they were staying, ordered a pizza and went to sleep. They never called the police. Dunn was arrested the next day.
Davis told police that he shot into the Durango because one of the young men inside raised what appeared to be a shotgun -- or a stick – and threatened to kill him. Dunn said he feared for his life and acted in self-defense.
Dunn’s police interrogation video.
Davis’ friends denied having a gun in the car and a thorough police search failed to locate any firearms. Witnesses who saw Davis’ friends momentarily get out of the vehicle after the shooting did not see a gun either. Police also say that Dunn fired four additional shots at the Durango while the vehicle was backing away from him.
Dunn’s lawyer’s are expected to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law, the same statute used by George Zimmerman’s legal team in their successful defense of Trayvon Martin’s killer. But some legal experts believe that “stand you ground” could be a longshot for Dunn. Tamara Lave, a former public defender who teaches law at the University of Miami, told a Jacksonville television station, "I don't see how he is going to prevail under `stand your ground.' Even if there was a gun in the car, that doesn't mean the gun was used to threaten him in any way."
Toxicology tests reveal that Davis did not have any alcohol in his system at the time of his death. In contrast, Dunn admitted to drinking wine and at least three rum and Cokes earlier that day at his son’s wedding. Dunn and Rouer had stopped to buy wine when Dunn confronted Davis and his friends.