Will Michael Dunn's Trial, Unlike George Zimmerman's, Have Something to Do With 'Stand Your Ground'?

CNNCNNThe New York Times says the trial of Michael Dunn, the middle-aged software developer who shot and killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis at a Jacksonville gas station in 2012, is not about race so much as "the mechanics of Florida's self-defense laws and how juries apply them." In that respect, the Times says, the case is different from George Zimmerman's 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. Which is weird, because there was no mention of race in Zimmerman's murder trial, which ended in an acquittal last July, and a juror interviewed afterward said it did not come up during deliberations either.

It seems to me that race may have played a bigger role in Dunn's shooting of Davis, which grew out of an argument over loud music, than it did in Zimmerman's shooting of Martin, which grew out of a violent struggle that Martin seems to have started. It's not just that Dunn is "whiter" than Zimmerman, a Hispanic with an Afro-Peruvian great-grandfather, but that his perception of Davis' allegedly violent intent may have been colored by the fact that he was confronting a bunch of black teenagers (Davis and his friends). In Zimmerman's case, by contrast, people speculated that he mistook Martin for a burglar and decided to follow him at least partly because he was black. Even if that's true, Martin's skin color had nothing to do with whether he started the fight and was smacking Zimmerman's head against the concrete, thereby posing a potentially deadly threat, when Zimmerman fired his gun (although Martin's perception of Zimmerman's racially tinged suspicions may help explain how the fight started).

Presumably Dunn's murder trial, which began yesterday, will involve "the mechanics of Florida's self-defense laws and how juries apply them," as the Times says. It certainly should. But that does not mean any special aspect of Florida's law will determine the outcome. Judging from the opening arguments, the case, like Zimmerman's, comes down to dueling narratives that go to the question of whether the defendant reasonably believed firing his gun was necessary to prevent death or serious injury. According to the prosecution, there was no threat at all, let alone a deadly one.

The undisputed part of the story is that Dunn pulled into the gas station, which included a convenience store, so that his girlfriend could buy wine and potato chips. He was irritated by the music blasting from the SUV in which Davis was riding with his friends and asked them to turn it down. Initially they did, but soon the volume was back up, apparently at the urging of Davis, who said, "Fuck that nigger." (That's according to Davis' friends as well as Dunn.) Davis and Dunn got into an argument, and Dunn ended up firing seven rounds, three of which struck Davis.

Dunn claims Davis threatened to kill him and was getting out of the SUV, armed with something—a shotgun, a lead pipe, or maybe a stick—when he fired his handgun, which he had retrieved from his glove compartment because he felt threatened. Police found no weapons in the SUV or at the scene, although Dunn's lawyer, Cory Strolla, claims Davis' friends had time to ditch whatever it was and that police did not search the area near the gas station until days later, by which time the weapon easily could have been moved again. Police did find a camera tripod, which a frightened man might mistake for a gun, a lead pipe, or a stick.

According to the prosecution, Dunn was not frightened at all; he was angry. "[Davis] never threatened the defendant," Assistant State Attorney John Guy (who was also one of the prosecutors in Zimmerman's trial) said yesterday. "He disrespected him." In addition to the missing weapon, Dunn's defense is undermined by the fact that he left the gas station after the shooting and did not call police, even after his girlfriend saw a TV news report about the shooting that said someone had died. The police tracked Dunn down the next day via a license plate number reported by a witness. Strolla said Dunn, who was in Jacksonville for his son's wedding, planned to call the police after he got back to his home in Satellite Beach. This does not seem like the behavior of a man who believed he had used deadly force in a legitimate act of self-defense.

The right to "stand your ground" when you are attacked in a public place—which Florida's self-defense law, like those of many other states, notoriously protects—did not come up yesterday. It could make a difference in Dunn's trial (unlike Zimmerman's) if the prosecution argues that Dunn should simply have driven away when Davis threatened him. But at this point the prosecution seems keen to deny that Davis threatened anything but Dunn's pride. If there was no threat, Dunn cannot possibly claim self-defense, with or without a duty to retreat. And even if Florida imposed a duty to retreat, Dunn could argue that he was unable to safely withdraw when confronted by an armed man who threatened to kill him. The New York Times story, which is headlined "Trial Brings New Scrutiny of Self-Defense Laws," mentions "Stand Your Ground" twice but does not explain why it is relevant to the case.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Acosmist||

    Actually, it seems that Martin's perception of Zimmerman's sexuality, NOT race, was the decisive issue.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Minding your own fucking business is so last century.

  • John||

    It will become more common as gun laws are liberalized. Maybe the thought that some guy next has a gun, will cause people turn their music down and avoid getting into confrontations.

  • playa manhattan||

    You know the old saying:
    "An armed society is an awesome society."

  • pan fried wylie||

    It will become more common as gun laws are liberalized. Maybe the thought that some guy playing loud music has a gun, will cause people to decide loud music in a convenience store parking lot isn't worth a confrontation.

  • Duke Trshmnstr of Stench||

    Judging from the opening arguments, the case, like Zimmerman's, comes down to dueling narratives that go to the question of whether the defendant reasonably believed firing his gun was necessary to prevent death or serious injury.

    Yes, because that is the language in the (standard) self-defense law. IIRC, the "stand your ground" law is effectively the same language, just without a duty to retreat if the opportunity avails. You would still have to be in reasonable fear of death or serious injury of yourself or other 3rd parties.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I think something that gets lost in discussions of SYG or the Castle Doctrine is that you usually can't just blow someone away without cause. If you're not threatened, you can do time for pulling the trigger. How many juries are going to let someone walk who looks like he pulled the trigger for fun? Certainly, Zimmerman isn't an example, because there was overwhelming evidence that he was getting his ass kicked.

  • John||

    All the Castle Doctrine is is the presumption that someone in their home is threatened by an intruder. That is it. It just says that if you are in your home and someone is there who shouldn't be, we are not going to make you prove you felt your life was in danger.

  • Pro Libertate||

    No, but it's a presumption, not the end of the story. For instance, if you send an invitation to a neighbor, they come over with their spouse, knock, sit down, and you blow them away, you lose. Unless the spouse is in on it.

  • John||

    Exactly. It is not a license to kill in your home. If there is evidence it was murder, the doctrine doesn't get you off.

  • Paul.||

    What if you shoot the spouse, and the husband is thankful?

  • Pro Libertate||

    It can get complicated when the eye-witnesses are actually parties to the crime. This is why I recommend GoPros glued to the body.

  • playa manhattan||

    A common perception is that SYG=being able to win an argument at gunpoint.

  • paranoid android||

    Yeah, Zimmerman's injuries and behavior in the aftermath of the shooting made his self-defense claims credible (noting in passing that something can be credible without necessarily being true).

    This guy just seems like a heartless prick, from what I can see. Hell, even if he's telling the truth about feeling like his life was in danger, he's an utter coward and total moron.

    I don't see any interpretation of events hear that's charitable to Dunn, unless one wants to take his lawyer's claims that the victim was armed to the teeth and Dunn was the only one who saw it on faith.

  • Square||

    After which he said "meh," got back in his car and went about his business, thinking to himself "when I get a minute I'll call the cops and let them know I just shot some guy."

  • Killaz||

    'Duty to retreat' is a very hazardous standard, and needs to be voided out of all laws. It's always a bad idea to turn your back to a threat, or even allow your focus to be thrown off on anything else, like retreating.

  • playa manhattan||

    Yep. The most important thing for a victim is stopping the threat. A duty to retreat hinders the ability to do so.

  • sarcasmic||

    'Duty to retreat' is based upon the liberal idea that self defense is vigilante justice.

    They'd rather you die with a phone in your hand than live with a gun in your hand.

  • Killaz||

    Hey, when they get mugged, they cooperate. What makes you so special, Batman?

  • ||

    I'm not wearing hockey pads!

  • Mendelism||

    excellent!

  • Zeb||

    That's not how I have ever thought of it (though that doesn't mean that that is not the intention of the people who put it in the law, I suppose). To me the duty to retreat when in public is to reduce the possibility of injuring bystanders. Even if that is not a legal duty, I'd say it is a pretty clear moral duty in public situations.

  • Virginian||

    To me the duty to retreat when in public is to reduce the possibility of injuring bystanders.

    By leaving them there with a dangerous criminal?

  • Paul.||

    FWIW: Washington State's no duty to retreat law:

    Q: What is the “no duty to retreat law”?
    A: Washington State has no “duty to retreat,” as precedent was set in State v. Studd (1999) and State v. Reynaldo Redmond (2003) when the court found: "that there is no duty to retreat when a person is assaulted in a place where he or she has a right to be."

    http://lewiscountywa.gov/sheri.....adly-force

  • Zeb||

    As long as the duty to retreat is only if you are certain it would be safe to do so, I don't see a problem. No one could ever refute you if you said that you did not see a clear way to retreat. I really don't think it matters much either way if the right to use force in self defense is clearly protected.

  • Killaz||

    You explicitly get rid of it so people have a greater degree of certainty what their rights are in dire circumstances. Coddling the concept to make proglodytes happy doesn't help anyone, unless you count the warm fuzzy feeling they get when their sentiments are harmoniously stroked as helping someone.

  • playa manhattan||

    If cops don't have a duty to retreat, neither do I.

  • Zeb||

    I see your point. I certainly wouldn't object to a self defense law that did not explicitly state a duty to retreat. Given the world we live in it is probably better not to have it stated.

  • Virginian||

    No one could ever refute you if you said that you did not see a clear way to retreat.

    No, they Monday morning QB the hell out of it. A shooting unfolds in less than 10 seconds typically. The prosecutor will spend the entire morning explaining how if you'd just dove to your right behind the concrete wall, you could have belly crawled along it to an open all night cafe, and you would have been perfectly safe.

    That's the real issue with duty to retreat: they can prosecute for what someone who wasn't there views as a sup optimal decision, even though they have days or weeks of calm daylight to consider possible options, not a split second.

  • LarryA||

    No one could ever refute you if you said that you did not see a clear way to retreat.

    There are, unfortunately, people who believe that if you carry a gun and have to shoot or threaten someone, you just didn't try hard enough to retreat, particularly where retreating includes giving the criminal your wallet. (Skipping over the fact that the criminal may not be after your wallet.)

    Many of these people are prosecutors.

  • Duke Trshmnstr of Stench||

    The actual language of the Florida law:

    “a person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
  • Juice||

    a violent struggle that Martin seems to have started

    I don't know. Maybe Martin took the first swing but it sure seems like he felt quite threatened by Zimmerman and was acting in self defense.

  • John||

    In bizzaro world maybe. On planet earth, a large, fit young man, who is within a block of his house, doesn't react to being threatened by turning around and confronting the guy.

    Amazing how that case makes people retarded.

  • Juice||

    Someone is following you, giving you the stink eye, right by your house, and you don't confront them? Who's living in Bizarro world? I guess he should have called the cops because that always works out.

  • John||

    Someone is following you, giving you the stink eye, right by your house, and you don't confront them?

    Not if I really think they are a threat I don't. I go in my house. That is what is so retarded about the defenses of Martin. If he really was threatened, he would have gone to safety not started a fight.

  • Zeb||

    If he really was threatened, he would have gone to safety not started a fight.

    Unless he was an idiot.

  • John||

    Maybe. Or maybe he was an asshole who started the fight. Isn't that just as or more likely?

  • Zeb||

    Sure, why not. I'm perfectly happy to say I have no idea what happened.

  • Juice||

    So Martin had a duty to retreat?

    Besides, Zimmerman was following him and then initiated the confrontation, yelling shit like "hey, what do you think you're you doing here?"

  • sarcasmic||

    Besides, Zimmerman was following him and then initiated the confrontation, yelling shit like "hey, what do you think you're you doing here?"

    Oh! Stop beating me with your words! That hurts!

  • Juice||

    Threats and fighting words aren't just calling someone a name. But, it's really besides the point. There's a good case for manslaughter regardless. Despite both characters being paranoid hotheads, the whole situation was initiated by Zimmerman and it ended with him killing Martin. If Zimmerman had just minded his business none of it would have happened. He's at fault for the death.

  • jdfinct||

    Yeah if you totally ignore that Martin attacked him.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yeah if you totally ignore that Martin attacked him.

    Apparently, according to Juice, it is perfectly acceptable to initiate violence upon someone if they're not minding their own business.

    If that had ended in Martin's getting his hands on Zimmerman's pistol and killing him, apparently Juice would say that is fine because Zimmerman wasn't minding his own business.

    Because it's OK to attack and kill someone for not minding their own business.

  • sarcasmic||

    Initiating a situation and initiating violence are two totally different things.

  • mr simple||

    You didn't actually follow the trial, did you?

  • jdfinct||

    Confronting does not mean attacking. Martin was well within his rights to ask Zimmerman why he was following him. What he had no right to do is to attack Zimmerman simply for being followed. That is not enough of a cause.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It actually may not matter. Even if Martin rationally was feeling threatened, he initiated force (the evidence is pretty strong for that). I mean, think about it--if it were rational for him to use force to attack someone following him, how can you argue that it's not rational to feel threatened by the actual use of force?

    No idea about the specific of what happened in that case, but the evidence favors the Martin-attacked-first theory, which ends any hope of a conviction.

  • Juice||

    I didn't argue that it was irrational for Zimmerman to respond to force with force. It was irrational for him to be following Martin around in the first place, though.

    Look it's obvious that I'm about to get dogpiled here I don't have time for that so this will be my last comment on this.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm not dogpiling, I'm just saying that the evidence presented couldn't result in anything less than an acquittal. What actual moral culpability Zimmerman may have is another story, and one we'll never know for sure. Certainly, I think it's not clear that he's an asshole.

  • flye||

    Exactly right. Moral culpability is not the same as legal culpability.

    Acquittal, and an ass-kicking by DMX will be a just outcome.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Oops--certainly I think it is clear that he's an asshole.

  • SusanM||

    Question: What's the threshold for initiation of force in a self-defense situation? When it's too late?

  • Pro Libertate||

    When you reasonably feel physically threatened. Generally with lethal or at least some level of major force.

    Look, it's not really mysterious. If you think someone might seriously hurt or kill you, and you can prevent it through the threat or use of force, even lethal force if the situation warrants it, then you threaten and/or use that force. Having to deal with the police and the courts sucks, but it sucks less than death.

    On the other hand, you'd better not just be shooting someone because they bother you. In most cases, the evidence won't be consistent your claim. If it were easy to shoot people in self-defense and walk, people would get murdered that way all the time without any conviction.

  • SusanM||

    "Reasonable" really is the key here. Can I reasonably feel threatened being followed by a guy wearing a neo-nazi t-shirt? Someone carrying a bible? Someone openly carrying a pistol? Would the time of day or location make a difference in reasonableness?

    I think that these types of situations aren't as clear-cut as everyone might like them to be.

  • Pro Libertate||

    They aren't, but generally, no. If someone had a holstered gun and said, "I'm going to kill you" (and it wasn't an obvious joke or something), you're in your rights to use lethal force in self-defense right then and there.

    It's not just "This guy makes me nervous," it's you reasonable are in fear of death or great bodily harm because of what the potential assailant is doing.

  • waffles||

    It's the only way to know for sure. Now we have doubt, uncertainty, and speculation.

  • Zeb||

    On planet earth, a large, fit young man, who is within a block of his house, doesn't react to being threatened by turning around and confronting the guy.

    How do you that? Sure, that would be what one would expect, but people do stupid and unexpected things all the time.

  • R C Dean||

    And people bear the consequences of doing stupid and unexpected things.

    Unfortunately for Trayvon, those consequences included taking a round to the chest.

  • SusanM||

    Zim was the prime mover in the situation. After reporting his suspicions to the cops he had the choice to keep following or let the cops deal with it. It's funny how he never worried about Martin being armed until he was losing a fight.

    I don't know enough about the law (in Florida or elsewhere) to say whether his actions were strictly legal but he's not this blameless innocent.

  • jdfinct||

    Bad judgement though does not mean he loses his right to not be attacked.

  • SusanM||

    I'm not saying that he does. I'm only making the point that his bad judgement contributed to situation.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    I'm only making the point that his bad judgement contributed to situation.

    No it did not. Everyone has a right to walk behind other people in public places and ask them questions anytime they please without being physically assaulted (assuming it's not ongoing harrassment, but even then - you're not allowed to punch someone harrassing you, but you do have legal options of course).

    This all assume of course one believes in stupid things like freedom of speech, right to life, and right of self defense.

    But if you believe in those things - then you do not believe Zimmerman caused nor contributed to any violence at all (unless you're trying to argue against what the known facts appear to be - which doesn't appear to be the case).

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    No, bad judgement means DMX will probably kick his ass in a celebrity boxing match and then piss in his face.

    Jus' sayin'

    Honestly, how the fuck does he think this is a good idea? What the Zim needs to be doing is laying low OJ-style and to occasionally pop up to write a book like "If I Did It".

  • Ska||

    Fucking R Kelly just isn't enough for you.

  • SusanM||

    Yeah. If a 17-year old can fuck him up then boxing DMX is as dumb as you can get. Maybe Zim will pack some heat just in case.

  • playa manhattan||

    There's always a chance that Zimmerman will win. Small, but nonzero. He's 30, DMX is 43. Apparently, he's been training heavily too...

  • jdfinct||

    I know i have lost all sympathy for him at this point when i read this boxing match story. Just keep your head down and live your life.

  • Zeb||

    No one knows (except maybe Zimmerman) and people who pretend they do are dicks. Still, I'd say the outcome was correct, there was reasonable doubt as to how it all went down.

  • ||

    But he also followed it with this:

    although Martin's perception of Zimmerman's racially tinged suspicions may help explain how the fight started

    Also, not sure I would consider attacking someone because they are following you to be self defense. I think it would have required Zimmerman to actually threaten or attempt to assault Martin for it to actually be self defense. My impression of the whole ordeal was that Zimmerman was paranoid and Martin was a hot-head who overreacted.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "a camera tripod, which a frightened man might mistake for a gun, a lead pipe, or a stick"

    Could a frightened man confuse a gas station with the conservatory, or the study?

  • Almanian!||

    Colonel Mustard Jordan Davis, with a lead pipe tripod, in the library gas station.

    Yep - confusing....

  • mr simple||

    Jacob, I think your problems stem from the fact that you seem to expect honest, unbiased reporting from the New York Times.

  • Almanian!||

    may have been colored by the fact

    I see what you did there...

  • Voros McCracken||

    Lee Ving as Mr. Boddy.

    That man is an absolute legend: parts in Who's the Boss and Clue, and also managed to get an entire genre of music banned from SNL for 20 years. I have very few 'heroes', but he's one.

  • ||

    Tell me more about this SNL music banning.

  • Voros McCracken||

    Video of the event

    Apparently Ian MacKaye was one of ne'er-do-wells who helped trash the place. All of it was apparently John Belushi's idea.

  • Fluffy||

    Was Davis in or out of his vehicle when he was shot?

    If he was out of his vehicle, it's hard for me to believe he had only threatened Dunn's pride.

    If you're in an argument with somebody while you're both in your cars, and you get out of your car and move towards the other one, it's automatically reasonable for the other person to conclude that you are escalating the argument to a physical confrontation. Why else are you getting out of your car? For fresh air?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Maybe to hear the other person better over the sound of that damned music.

  • John||

    That is the key. If Davis was in the truck, it would be appear to be murder. If Davis is out, then it is a lot tougher. Someone comes at you with a club or a pipe, you are going to feel pretty threatened.

  • R C Dean||

    If Davis is out, then it is a lot tougher.

    Well, maybe a little tougher. Getting out of your car isn't threatening. Its what you do after you've gotten out that matters.

  • Mike M.||

    I agree with this, but if it's indeed true that he just drove away, and it sure sounds like it is, he's in deep shit.

    You can't shoot someone, legitimate self-defense or not, and then just go on about your business like nothing happened. The "I really meant to call the police later on" bit isn't going to fly.

  • Floridian||

    You can't shoot someone, legitimate self-defense or not, and then just go on about your business like nothing happened. The "I really meant to call the police later on" bit isn't going to fly.

    How many times have I read on this site to never call the police? To be fair I agree with the sentiment but this does appear to be one time you are obliged to report to the police.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, sometimes not calling the police is worse than calling them. When you have just shot someone in public and claim self defense, it is probably one of those times.

  • Fluffy||

    He claims he thought he missed.

  • Mike M.||

    Also very hard for me to believe. His credibility sure sounds pretty low, but I'm not there at the trial so I'm not privy to all the facts.

  • paranoid android||

    How is that even possible? Davis was supposedly out of the truck, advancing on him, according to Dunn. Is Dunn claiming he just closed his eyes, blindly fired seven shots in Davis's direction, then jumped in the car and drove off without seeing if he'd hit anything?

  • tarran||

    It is possible to shoot someone and not realize you hit them;

    1) Small bullets poke little holes in people.

    2) The blood loss can take tens of seconds to cause the loss of consciousness or visibly impair someone.

    3) It's possible to miss the impact on the target because it's practically invisible, especially through smoke and muzzle flashes.

    4) Unless you sever the spine of hit the brain stem, the person won't drop like in the movies.

    However, just because you didn't see anyone get shot doesn't mean you didn't shoot anyone.

  • paranoid android||

    Well, that just means he had no cause to assume he'd missed.

  • DFG||

    One version I heard was that Dunn claimed that he saw someone in the car point a shotgun at him out the window. He started shooting and even continued as Davis and his friends drove away. Several rounds were in the back end of the Davis vehicle. Hard to make that self-defense claim if the threat is driving away from you.

  • Floridian||

    I think he was in the car. From what I have read the shooter shot at the truck as it drove away as well as into the interior. 7 rounds in total.

  • Fluffy||

    If the kid was in the car, then the reverse applies.

    He by definition could not have been a threat without a projectile weapon i.e. a gun.

    A pipe doesn't cut it.

  • Floridian||

    I don't have all the evidence but from what I have read at best Dunn is a complete idiot at worst a murder and a liar. I find it hard to believe if there was a shotgun in the car one of the other youths would not have returned fire.

  • Almanian!||

    I grow weary of all this shit fed by collectivism, tribalism, group-think, ritual taking-of-offense, etc. etc. etc. It just creates more and bigger issues.

    Weary and tired of it I am.

  • ||

    You're not the only one.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    So there's a collection of you? Who maybe are grouped in a de facto collective? Collecting similar thoughts and feelings and sentiments and whatnot?

    Yeah, that's what I thought.

  • ||

    You have no thought that I didn't put in your head. Surprise, FoE; you're in the Borg and I am your queen. A huge, flaming queen.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That's not what I wanted to hear.

  • Almanian!||

    That's almost meta.

    Almost...

  • Pro Libertate||

    Dude, women get weary.

  • Almanian!||

    ARE YOU SAYING I'M GAY??!!!

    *grabs tripod - or lead pipe - it's not clear which*

  • Pro Libertate||

    No, just that you can't be "weary." I mean, read your Redding, man.

    Also, gay men are still men in the chromosomal sense.

  • John||

    The bigger issue in this case is not the legal issue. The bigger issue is that we have tons people out there who don't give a fuck what anyone thinks and think it is fine to tell anyone who doesn't like it to fuck off. The tragedy here is that Davis is dead. Even if it is murder and his killer goes to jail, Davis will still be dead. And he would be alive, he had had even an ounce of respect for anyone around him, he would be alive.

    Sure it is a free country and murder is illegal. But if I go around the world doing shit like blasting my music and telling anyone who complains to fuck off and treating anyone who stands up to me as "disrespecting me", eventually there is a decent chance I will run into the wrong guy who is either crazy, scared or just doesn't give a fuck and blows my head off. That may not be fair. But it is reality.

    Young black males have a higher rate of violent death than all males did during World War II. That is fucked up. And maybe we should think about that sobering fact more than this particular case.

  • tarran||

    Conversely, demanding that other people quiet down to my taste is also a form of going around looking for trouble.

  • Fluffy||

    But if I go around the world doing shit like blasting my music and telling anyone who complains to fuck off and treating anyone who stands up to me as "disrespecting me", eventually there is a decent chance I will run into the wrong guy who is either crazy, scared or just doesn't give a fuck and blows my head off.

    The reverse is also true.

    If I go around randomly confronting people in public places because I don't like what they're doing even when it only trivially impacts me (and Dunn was only going to be in this parking lot for 90 seconds; hearing loud music from inside another car for that length of time is not really a big enough deal to get angry about) eventually someone is going to shoot me in the face.

    If the rule is "confrontations aren't worth it" then that's the rule for Dunn just as much as for Davis.

  • John||

    Sure. The guy who kills me is going to jail. But that doesn't do me any good. I am still dead.

    The lesson here is, being an asshole and getting into confrontations is a bad idea. We don't seem to be teaching that concept to our yutes very well.

    It doesn't matter if you think the victim is right and everyone should go around blasting their music. That is nice. But it doesn't make doing what Davis did any better of an idea.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Ok, John, thanks for the advice. We'll all stop being "uppity" now.

  • John||

    Except that most blacks are killed by other blacks. Who says only a white guy is going to kill you if you spend your time telling the world to fuck off?

    But feel free to tell young black males that being masculine means acting like this guy did. I am sure it will work out fine just like it is working out now.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    acting like this guy did.

    What? Ignoring the demands of some aspie code-monkey who thinks the world should be customized to him?

    Your attempt to tie this all into Cosby-equse criticisms of the cultural psychology of teenaged Black males is absurd.

    Someone who cannot stand a minor annoyance for a mere 90-second fill-up at a gas station and escalates it to armed confrontation is the exact definition of the thug who lives his life around "who be dissin' him".

  • John||

    Yeah. If I run around with my music blasting and tell anyone who doesn't like it to go fuck themselves, there is a decent chance I will run into a coked up nut who gets pissed off and kills me.

    That doesn't make him right. But it doesn't make me any smarter or less dead either.

    This guy was a moron who got into a confrontation with a stranger and got himself murdered. Saying "but this is murder" doesn't make the victim's actions any smarter here or something we should encourage in others.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Yeah. If I run around with my music blasting and tell anyone who doesn't like it to go fuck themselves

    Yeah...but that's not what happened, is it? All we know is that Davis's music was deemed too loud by Dunn, and last I checked, Dunn was never deputized as Music Inspector General.

    Furthermore, Davis had ever right to express his views concerning Dunn's opinion to his friends. Remember, Davis said "Fuck that nigger" to his friends, not to Dunn. Dunn just overheard it and got all shirty at being "dissed".

    Again, I ask you, just who is the violent, stupid, and irrational thug in this case?

  • John||

    Maybe the defendant. And that proves my point. Maybe Davis should have tried a little harder to avoid the confrontation and turned his music down? You know because there are crazy fucks like the Defendant who are willing to kill you for shit like that.

    Saying that Dunn is wrong just proves my point. The bottom line is if Davis had not mouthed off and gotten into it, he would be alive today. Pointing out that Dunn is a nut, just proves my point that Davis was stupid and his actions ought to be called as such.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Davis didn't mouth off! Again, when he basically said "fuck him" he was speaking to his friends in the car. Davis is not allowed to speak to his friends in earshot of Dunn now?

  • tarran||

    One big mistake the guy made was in *not* calling the cops.

    He was in a crowded area, and the cops were guaranteed to be involved. They were guaranteed to find him. By not calling the cops, he allowed the guys he shot to frame the narrative.

    Assuming he is telling the truth about being threatened, he would have been best off calling the cops.

    There was a sailor on my ship who got jumped by 5 guys off the Nimitz while he was in a bar. He got loose and ran to his car with the guys in hot pursuit; got his passenger door opened; retrieved a hand-gun from the glove compartment; and started shooting, he hit four, including nailing one guy in the back as they ran away. Nobody died, but three would have to be hospitalized. He then jumped in his car and raced away about a mile until he saw a gas station with a payphone. He called the cops from there, explaining that he had left the scene because he felt his presence would pose a danger to himself and bystanders.

    This helped a great deal when his actions were being reviewed by lawyers and cops. He was perceived as a victim and not as a willing participant in an affray.

    He got a no bill from the civilian grand jury and charges dismissed at the court martial our CO convened.

  • tarran||

    That business about court cases being about conflicting narratives is 100% correct. People will naturally notice the evidence that backs up the narrative they agree with, and discard the evidence that contradicts it. Cops are people (pace sarcasmic) and are just a s susceptible to this effect. Getting your narrative into their heads as early as possible is crucial to your defense.

    FWIW, I suspect he isn't telling the truth. I think him shooting into the car is far more plausible an explanation of the gunshot holes' placements on the victims' vehicle than him shooting low at a standing guy who was menacing him.

  • John||

    But unless you can show me that this guy is some kind of lunatic, I find it difficult to beleive he just decided to shoot someone.

    The most likely explanation is that the victim was being an asshole, a confrontation ensued and resulted in a tragedy. It may be a case of murder. I don't know. But even if it is, that doesn't bring Davis back to life. And the fact is that if you go around starting confrontations with strange people, you are not going to live very long.

  • Fluffy||

    But unless you can show me that this guy is some kind of lunatic

    Well, his girlfriend was there.

    That definitely raises the "you kids disrespected me in front of my girl BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG" possibility ratio, even if he's not otherwise crazy.

  • John||

    It very well may. But Davis is still dead. Maybe telling strange people to fuck off isn't such a good idea. That is my point.

    The more wrong you say the defendant is, the more it proves my point that we need to tell people to stop being such assholes and confronting anyone they think is disrespecting them.

    Some really people really are nuts.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It very well may. But Ms. Davis was still raped. Maybe telling strange men to fuck off isn't such a good idea. That is my point.

    The more wrong you say the defendant is, the more it proves my point that we need to tell women to stop being such assholes and stand-offish anyone they think is creepy to them.

    Some really people really are dressed for it.
  • John||

    You think Davis was right all you want HM. But that won't make any less dead. And throwing the defendant in prison, won't make confronting strangers and blasting your music like an asshole any less of a dumb idea.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    won't make confronting strangers and blasting your music like an asshole any less of a dumb idea.

    Again, that's not what happened, is it. Dunn confronted a stranger, not Davis. The only reason you believe Davis's music was abnormally loud is based on the testimony of Dunn. But keep on trying to tie this case in knots to fit your narrative of Black hip-hop thug culture out of control.

  • John||

    The only reason you believe Davis's music was abnormally loud is based on the testimony of Dunn.

  • waffles||

    HM, Davis's friends said the bass was shaking the car. The music was LOUD.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    HM, Davis's friends said the bass was shaking the car. The music was LOUD.

    I see. But this was in Jacksonville, which I understand is fairly urban. Who lives in the city and doesn't hear at least one car blasting their subwoofers at least once per day?

    What I'm getting at is that if you called the cops in this situation, do you think they would have responded to the noise complaint?

  • waffles||

    You're right, but I can accept that Davis and Dunn were both assholes. Dunn was just the deadlier asshole. I think he's probably a murderer too.

    It seems Davis did not get out of the car and Dunn clearly didn't hesitate long before shooting. I think shooting at the vehicle while it was driving away is just damning. Same for not calling the police. Shit, every concealed class tells you to call the damn cops.

  • Duke Trshmnstr of Stench||

    It all comes back to "don't draw attention to yourself." When you start drawing attention, you have no way of controlling what type of attention it is, and sometimes it's the deadly kind.

  • John||

    What Duke said. The fact that Dunn is a murderous lunatic, means drawing his attention to you is really stupid.

  • Floridian||

    That definitely raises the "you kids disrespected me in front of my girl BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG" possibility ratio, even if he's not otherwise crazy.

    7 bangs. I like your attention to detail fluffy.

  • Fluffy||

    I actually went and checked the article.

  • John||

    And the defendant may deserve to fry here. But his culpability doesn't make the victim's actions any less foolish. That is my point. We can continue to pretend acting like Davis did is a great idea. But understand, the Dunn's of the world will continue to kill such people. And that is kind of problem that sending Dunn to jail doesn't solve.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    How the fuck did Davis act? Dunn asked him to turn the music down and Davis, using the vernacular of the streets, said "No."

    Being a snotty teenager is a death penalty offense in Johntopia?

  • John||

    Being a snotty teenager is a death penalty offense in Johntopia?

    No. But it apparently was to Dunn. That is my point. Being a mouthy teenager is a good way to get yourself killed. That doesn't make Dunn right. But it does't change what happened or being that way any better of an idea.

    The point is, there are people out there who will kill you and don't give a fuck. So we need to be telling the other Davis' of the world to be aware of that and try being less of a mouthy teenager. Being that way shouldn't get you killed. But sadly if often can.

  • waffles||

    Parenting advice from John?

    When you catch your teen mouthing off smack that kid around because if he does it to the wrong person he's going to get fucking shot.

  • John||

    Waffles,

    We have a whole society that tells young black males it is totally acceptable to act like this and that anyone who says anythign to them is disrepecting them. And as a result of that, they being murdered at a pretty horrible rate. Every day, young black men are murdered and murdering each other in senseless and idiotic confrontations. In a bad neighborhood, looking the wrong way at someone can get you killed and often does.

    I think that is a tragedy. But if you think those people who are killed are martyrs to the free way of life, that is your right I guess.

  • John||

    Waffles,

    We have a whole society that tells young black males it is totally acceptable to act like this and that anyone who says anythign to them is disrepecting them. And as a result of that, they being murdered at a pretty horrible rate. Every day, young black men are murdered and murdering each other in senseless and idiotic confrontations. In a bad neighborhood, looking the wrong way at someone can get you killed and often does.

    I think that is a tragedy. But if you think those people who are killed are martyrs to the free way of life, that is your right I guess.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Fair enough. My father gave me similar advice at the ripe age of ten. However, if you compare Dunn's actions to Martin's actions, there is no comparison. And to lump Dunn and Martin both into the tragedy of the performative aggression of Black masculinity seems to be overegging the pudding to me.

  • tarran||

    And the fact is that if you go around starting confrontations with strange people, you are not going to live very long.

    I go further; I think starting or escalating confrontations will eventually get a person into a world of hurt...

  • John||

    I agree. Regardless of what you think of the defendant, the victim in this case and Martin have one thing in common, an idiotic concept of masculinity that got them killed.

  • Paul.||

    Still though, one doesn't look like the other. I can't imagine blasting seven rounds of a handgun at an SUV full of teenagers, then driving home and watching re-runs of T.J. Hooker.

    If I ever discharge a weapon at someone in self defense, even if I don't think I hit them, I'm going to back or get to a safe distance, and immediately notify the police.

    I do think about this 'tough guy' thing a lot and it bothers me. That's why in my advancing age, even though I carry a gun, my first order of business is to avoid the confrontation, because there are too many thugs out there who are more than willing to throw a punch if you "confront" them about their behavior , loud music or texting during the previews. I really don't want to have to discharge my weapon at someone throwing punches-- even if they deserve it.

  • John||

    That just means that Davis was murdered by a legitimate nut and Martin was killed by less of a nut. It doesn't make either of them less dead or either of their actions any smarter.

  • ||

    Agreed. The last thing I ever want to do is have to even pull my gun, let alone use it. I'm sure as fuck not going to pull it over loud music and insults.

  • tarran||

    I'm sure as fuck not going to pull it over loud music and insults.

    I seem to remember a very unpleasant scene when I forced you to watch this.

  • ||

    Let's hope this case doesn't catch on with the media. I can't take any more of this kind of enstupidation so soon.

  • ||

    I don't think TEAM OUTRAGE is going to honor your wishes, dude. Maybe you should drink a bunch of bleach so that you're operating on their level and it won't bother you. That's what Hugh does.

  • ||

    I already do, you nincompoop. How do you think I trick the doctor?

  • BakedPenguin||

    This. I hardly ever watch network news, and Zimmerman was still a nightmare.

  • playa manhattan||

    Look for this story around election 2014 season.

  • Zeb||

    Does anyone know who started using the term "stand your ground" in the context of self defense laws? If it was the people who favored the laws, it was a pretty dumb move. It is just asking to be misinterpreted.

  • SugarFree||

    In Florida's case, the language is part of the law itself.

  • Paul.||

    Dunn claims Davis threatened to kill him and was getting out of the SUV, armed with something—a shotgun, a lead pipe, or maybe a stick—when he fired his handgun,

    If Dunn were a cop, this would be 110% justified. Because *something* was in Davis's hands and furtive movements were happening.

  • Paul.||

    Dunn's defense is undermined by the fact that he left the gas station after the shooting and did not call police, even after his girlfriend saw a TV news report about the shooting that said someone had died. The police tracked Dunn down the next day via a license plate number reported by a witness.

    But on a serious note, Dunn is fucked. This whole thing is hella fishy on Dunn's part.

  • ||

    If you leave the scene of an accident, you're fucked. Leaving the scene of a shooting where you are the shooter?

    He's really fucked.

  • waffles||

    THIS. I don't think any responsible CCW person would not know this.

  • ||

    Everything about Dunn's behavior reeks of lack of responsibility.

    Hey, I have a gun, let me do something that might start a confrontation! Oh no, I started a confrontation! Let me escalate it! Oh no, the guy I instigated a confrontation with is attacking me with a gun! Or maybe a stick! Or maybe a tripod! I know, I'll shoot him! Now to drive away and forget this all happened. There's no need to give one of those statement thingies or anything, right?

    Fuck this guy.

  • ||

    Since this whole thing was about loud unpleasant music, let's have loud unpleasant music.

  • Bubba Jones||

    If his girlfriend was in the store, then it seems inappropriate for him to "retreat" from a threat. What's going to happen to the girlfriend?

    But to echo everyone else, this guy did it all wrong. I don't feel overly invested in his outcome.

  • MasterDarque||

    I am so sick of the media saying that blacks use the term "nigger". Davis more than likely said "fuck that nigga"...I know people want to pretend they don't use the difference between the terms and there respective usage but this shit is so annoying. Sad thing here is someone is dead because some pussy ass nigga had a gun but no fucking brains and or decency. Obviously the kids he hung with were harmless otherwise they would have kicked and or killed his bitch ass and raped his bitch.

  • daniwitz13||

    on a similar case, I posted a comment a my thesis on using a Gun to shoot someone that does not have a gun, and boy, did I stir up a hornets nest. They called me all kinds of name. This is something new and novel. What I proposed could deter shootings. What I propose is this: Do away with the notion that one is "defending" oneself, instead use, "saving" oneself. To save oneself puts a value to what is saved. In other words, one's life is worth something, it is very precious, and has a value. To take the life of another to save your own value, cannot walk away free. There MUST be a payment for the value saved. One cannot take away the value of the other person, to save your value for free. The one that uses a gun (an Invention) to take the Life of another that does NOT have that invention, must pay a price for that save. This also includes the Police. They cannot use the invention of a gun, on someone without that same invention and claim "self defense". He used the gun to 'save himself' and must pay a price for saving himself. It is not a FREE save. With this in mind and told so when buying a gun, if you shoot someone unarmed, consider that it is not defending but saving yourself and you will have to pay a price for it. I am not saying that you cannot use the gun to so called "defend" yourself. Only that, if you do, there is a price to pay for it because you saved something of value. This is not an easy concept to accept, especially for gun gun-hos. Pity

  • atilla-reas||

    The term "disrespected" is thrown about like everyone knows its EXACT meaning. Let me say "some" people get disrespected "VERY" easy as in "looking" for trouble. The more DUDES/audience in the car the "easier" they get disrespected.
    Personal experience here.

  • concerned cynic||

    Dunn's failure to contact the authorities immediately after the incident puts him in a very bad light.

    By the time you see a firearm, and it becomes evident that your life is in danger, it is too late. Hence there is a strong temptation to shoot first, and hope that the subsequent police investigation uncovers evidence vindicating your being the first to pull the trigger. Behaviour like Dunn's encourages young thugs involved in any verbal dispute to shoot first. The European and Canadian solution to this dilemma is to ban handguns.

    Dunn was a fool to challenge a young AA male in public. In my university days 45 years ago, doing that was well understood as putting your own life in danger. The rational response to the fact that young AA men carry handguns and use them, is white flight, not Stand Your Ground. White flight does not bother me; a quick trigger finger does.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement