In November 2012, an unarmed black 17-year-old’s death in Florida looked like the
Trayvon Martin case all over again.
But unlike George Zimmerman, Jordan Davis’ killer might get convicted. There’s more evidence in the Davis case, and the police treated his killer like a suspect right away, a Florida legal expert told Business Insider.
While authorities waited weeks to arrest Zimmerman, 46-year-old Michael Dunn ended up in handcuffs the day after he killed Davis in Jacksonville. Dunn says he fired his gun into an SUV with Davis and his friends because they threatened him after he asked them to turn down their music.
Dunn’s lawyer said she may use as a defence Florida’s infamous Stand Your Ground law, which George Zimmerman’s lawyers also initially considered invoking in court.
In both cases, an older, non-black man claims self-defence for shooting and killing an unarmed, black 17-year-old who allegedly threatened him. Both men said their actions weren’t racially motivated.
“If Trayvon Martin’s death … were not heart breaking enough, now there is Jordan Davis. He is the most recent national news example of a young black male being gunned down because he supposedly acted in a threatening manner,” Northwestern University professor Ava Thompson Greenwell wrote for the Huffington Post.
Even within the all-too-familiar scenarios, significant differences exist between the cases that could affect how they play out. For one thing, the police did a much better job in the Davis case, University of Florida law professor Kenneth Nunn told Business Insider.
“The police did what they didn’t do in the Trayvon Martin case. They arrested the perpetrator,” Nunn said.
Sanford, Fla. police, however, only charged Zimmerman after pressure from the Department of Justice and President Obama addressed the shooting in a speech. Zimmerman may also have helped his case by remaining at the scene after he shot Martin.
Dunn, on the other hand, left the scene, ate pizza with his girlfriend at a motel, and then returned to Daytona, where he lived, according to Mother Jones.
“There’s an inference of guilt when someone flees the scene,” Nunn said.
Witnesses will also “definitely” help the case against Dunn, Nunn said. Only Zimmerman and Martin knew exactly what happened the night of the shooting — and Martin unfortunately died. Even though Dunn fired eight or nine shots into the car, according to Orlando Sentinel, everyone else survived. Davis’ three friends in the car that day will likely testify in court.
The stakes are also higher in the Davis case. While prosecutors charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder, Dunn landed the more serious charge of first-degree murder.
Dunn’s attorney, Robin Lemonidis, rejected comparisons between the two cases and even suggested the public should have more sympathy for her client. She told CNN that her client isn’t a “vigilante,” a word anti-Zimmerman groups brought to the table.
“There are no similarities to the Trayvon Martin case. He [Dunn] is horrified and devastated by the death of the teen,” she said.
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