On Jordan Davis’ Senseless Death

Everyone's talking about "Stand your ground" laws, but it's time to talk about guns, too.

Jordan Davis (via Facebook)
Jordan Davis (via Facebook)

(The Root) — Just weeks after President Obama’s triumphant re-election, an all-too-familiar story emerges to remind us that, despite the ascendance of one black man to the White House, we do not live in a postracial, colorblind society.

On Nov. 23, Jordan Russell Davis, a black, 17-year-old high school student in Florida, was shot and killed by Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old white male who claims he felt threatened. Jordan was unarmed.

According to police reports, Jordan and three other black teens had been shopping Black Friday sales when they stopped for food. Jordan was in the backseat of an SUV when Dunn pulled up next to their car and demanded that they turn down their music. An argument ensued, and Dunn pulled a gun and fired eight or nine shots, fatally striking Jordan twice. No one else was injured.

Dunn, a gun collector, fled the scene, initially going to a hotel before returning to his home in Brevard County, where he was arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder. He is currently behind bars and has been denied bond.

Dunn told police that he thought he saw a shotgun in the car before he killed Jordan — but police have confirmed that no weapons were recovered in the teenagers’ vehicle. Robin Lemonidis, Dunn’s attorney, told CNN that her client will plead self-defense and that they may invoke Florida’s controversial “Stand your ground” law. She added that her client’s case is completely different from the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. But as the facts unfold, it appears that Lemonidis is wildly mistaken.

Trayvon, also 17, was shot to death in February by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood-watch captain. The case drew worldwide attention after Zimmerman killed the unarmed teenager, who was walking home after buying a bag of Skittles and Arizona iced tea from a local 7-Eleven. Zimmerman followed Trayvon in his car before stopping and getting out, precipitating a confrontation that led to the teenager’s shooting death. But Zimmerman, who says his life was in danger before he shot the teen, invoked a “Stand your ground” defense during his initial police questioning and was immediately released. Criminal charges were later filed, but only after widespread media coverage and activist outcry.

The “Stand your ground” law itself states:

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and 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.

Both Jordan and Trayvon were in places they had the right to be, but the statute seemingly applies only to the survivor — not the victim — making it a flawed tool for a criminal-justice system that is supposed to be fair.