Florida

Video: U.S. lodges protest over American teen ‘severely beaten’ by Israeli Border Police

beatenkhdeir

This was a serious issue for the U.S. State Department to get involved…

The Raw Story

The U.S. has lodged a strong protest over the savage beating delivered to an American teen from Florida was attending the funeral of his cousin who was murdered in Israel this past week, according to Haaretz.

The teen, identified by the State Department  as Tariq Khdeir, 15, of Tampa, Florida, alleged to be the person  seen in two different videos, laying passively on the ground as two Israeli Border Police officers punch and kick him before carrying his unconscious body away.

“We are profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “We are calling for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force.”

“We reiterate our grave concern about the increasing violent incidents, and call on all sides to take steps to restore calm and prevent harm to innocents,” the statement read.

Khdeir was visiting his  Palestinian relatives in Shuafat, Jerusalem, when he was detained at the home of his cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was allegedly abducted and then burned alive in retaliation for the deaths of three Israeli teens who were kidnapped on June 12.

Defending the  actions of the Israeli police, a spokesperson stated that Tariq Khdeir had resisted arrest and attacked police officers, and that the authorities had discovered a slingshot on him. According to police, other protestors arrested with Khdeir were armed with knives, and that several police officers sustained injuries in a skirmish with them

Tariq’s father said he witnessed his son’s arrest and insisted the boy was not involved in the violence.

The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called upon the U.S. State Department  to demand that Israel immediately release Khdeir.

Khdier is currently being held  under police guard at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and will appear in court on Monday.

Watch the video below uploaded to YouTube by Real Views:

Florida Judge Tells Attorney ‘I’ll Beat Your Ass,’ Allegedly Does Just That

The Huffington Post

A war of words between a judge and attorney in Florida ended after the judge allegedly punched the attorney in the head.

Judge John Murphy of Brevard County, Florida, challenged veteran public defenderAndrew Weinstock to a fight on Monday, and it was all caught on tape and obtained by WFTV.

The station reports that Murphy pressured Weinstock during court proceedings to make his client waive his right to a speedy trial.

“I’m not waiving,” Weinstock can be heard telling the judge.

The two men, seemingly frustrated with one another, start to get heated.

“You know, if I had a rock, I would throw it at you right now,” Murphy shoots back. “Stop pissing me off!”

Murphy tells Weinstock to sit down.

“I have a right to be here,” Weinstock says to the demand.

“If you wanna fight, let’s just go out back and I’ll beat your ass!” Murphy can be heard saying. Weinstock then walks away from the camera.

In the hallway and out of view from the courtroom cameras, Murphy allegedly grabbed Weinstock by the collar and punched him in the head, according to WGHP.

“You want to f**k with me?” one of the men is heard shouting during the brawl.

Two deputies broke up the altercation. Murphy then returned to the courtroom to applause, saying, “I will catch my breath eventually. Man, I’m an old man.”

Public Defender Blaise Trettis told Florida Today that Weinstock did not return to the courtroom, and that criminal charges won’t be pursued.

Weinstock was reassigned to another area so he and Murphy wouldn’t interact with one another.

The public defender’s office told WFTV that the incident will be reported to the Florida Bar.

President? REALLY? 5 Things You Don’t Know About JEB

Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush

Daily Kos

I remember reading a conservative article in 2012 that yeah, the GOP is going to get roasted that year but just wait till 2016!  Marco Rubio! Chris Christie!  Rand Paul!  Hooo boy!  The pickin’s will be good!  Nowhere did the article mention Jeb Bush, which shows how far the GOP field has fallen.

Jeb is a has-been who’s last campaign was 14 years ago. During that time he has not done anything productive or constructive–except try to get rich. What he considers his biggest legacy, education, has turned out to be a failure and liability.  He also faces a changed country:  its a lot browner, and his potential supporters have gotten a lot more racist and crazier.

But suddenly, he is now the GOP frontrunner.

He may just win the primary because just like Romney in 2012, all of the other GOP candidates are imploding.  This time earlier than usual.  But another Bush in the White House?  Against a Clinton?  I don’t see it.

I never thought I’d be writing about him again, but here we are. Most people outside of Florida only know him from his disastrous handling of Elian Gonzalez, the 2000 election (selection) of his brother, and the Terri Schiavo debacle.

So just a few quick things about W’s brother:

1.  Jeb was paid big bucks by Lehman Brothers on a scheme to save them.   Lehman Bros, as you recall, was the shady firm engaging in toxic mortgages that was the catalyst for the 2008 financial collapse.  They hired Bush in a desperate bid to save themselves on a plan code-named “Project Verde“. Essentially, Bush was to go to Mexico and convince (trick) a telecom mogul into making a large investment. It failed spectacularly. “Project Verde was unsuccessful”, Bush wrote back.  This is one of many instances where his quest for money overtook his judgment.  Which brings me to #2…

2.  Greedy. Rushed into very shady deals to make money.   Jebbie is always all about the money.  He has been chasing dollars since his early years.  During the 80s, while Jeb was working real estate angles in Miami, he told the Miami Times “I want to be very wealthy”.  Jeb actually felt slighted and whined openly about having to rebuild his wealth during all those years “serving” the public as governor.   He was in such a rush that the NY Times notes that a lot of these deals were quite questionable:

The Times chronicles the efforts of the brother of President George W. Bush – both sons of President George H.W. Bush — to recruit investors for InnoVida, a Miami-based start-up company, as a handsomely paid consultant and member of the board of directors.

Leaders of InnoVida, a manufacturer of inexpensive building materials, had faked documents, lied about the health of the business and misappropriated $40 million in company funds, records show, according to the Times. The nascent company went bankrupt in 2011, its founder eventually went to jail and investors lost nearly all of their money.

Jeb Bush also sat on the board of Swisher Hygiene, a soap maker, “at a time when, its executives acknowledged, their financial statements were unreliable and their accounting practices inadequate,” the Times reported.

3.  Tea party hates him. I mean really.    He is the ultimate insider-establishment candidate.  The tea party has little love for the Bush clan, and Jeb can’t disavow all the spending his brother did out of family loyalty.  Then there’s the pandering. On his trip to  kiss the ring of Sheldon Adelson,  he gave the “act of love” immigration comment. (Re: Jeb’s sudden interest in immigration means he is really running and he read Romney’s showing with Hispanics).   Although Jeb has probably shown sufficient contempt for blacks (in 1994, when asked what he would do to help the black community, he famously replied “probably nothing”), the tea party also hates brown.  Jeb stabbed them in their racist hearts by not going with the “taking over our country” meme.  (Speaking Spanish and marrying a Mexican is also tough for winning over the bigot caucas.) But the icing on their hate cake will come out when they learn that Jeb was on the board for Tenet, a company that aggressively encouraged Americans to sign up forgasp oBaMaCare!!!

You know you have your work cut out for you with your base when national joke Donald Trump has you booed at a tea party rally.

4.  Jeb was the one responsible for Stand Your Ground.   Compared to the incompetent, tone-deaf, and outright corrupt Rick Scott, Jeb looks good in comparison.  But Rick isn’t responsible for the most violent mistake in our state history (just for expanding it and now hiding it from public records).  Bush turned Florida into an NRA meth lab, allowing them to draft awful bills like SYG and then celebrate passage with them.  ALEC would then bring it to the rest of the nation.  No one here asked for SYG; in fact, most of us fought against it–including law enforcement.  There was not one instance in our entire state history that Jeb could point to where someone who shot in self-defense was prosecuted.  But we did warn of the consequences.  The media ran several stories saying it was a license to hunt and kill.  Democrats in the FL House and Senate correctly predicted catastrophe if the bill passed.  The blood of its many victimes, including 26 children, are on Jeb’s hands.  Speaking of children….

5. Ran the most dysfunctional Department of Children and Families in the nation.   The DCF under Bush was beyond disgraceful.  Rilya Wilson and Jami Cotter are just two horror stories involving two innocent children that should have sunk his campaign.  They didn’t.  And since Rick Scott, the situation at DCF has only gotten worse.  The fact that there is still no outrage is more a reflection on our apathetic citizens than these two men.

6.  Bonus: His name isn’t even Jeb.    He calls himself that for the bubba crowd.  Do you really think an elitist family would ever call their son Jebediah?  His name is John Ellis Bush.  Lawton Chiles, who defeated Jeb in his ’94 bid to be Florida gov, made sure everyone here knew that.

I could go on with his “palling around” with terrorists, his imaginary Chinese friend, or any number of fails during his tenure, like eliminating our growth management, but I’ll let others pick apart his record once he dives in.  And he will.

I had really hoped Florida would at least learn something from having a Bush at the helm.  Instead, we elected Rick Scott, who is so bad that even his supporters discourage him from seeking higher office.   But Rick is also a man who Jeb Bush whole-heartedly endorses for governor.  Knowing all that Rick has done to Florida, that says everything you pretty much need to know.

Jeb wasn’t as dumb as W or as horrible as Rick Scott, but that’s hardly something to build a campaign on.  Unfortunately for the GOP, that’s the best they have.

Florida House Passes Bill Making It Easier For People To Arm Themselves During A Natural Disaster

shutterstock_gun violence 3x2

CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

I imagine Florida law makers  have the mind of little children during the 50′s and 60′s playing “cops and robbers” or “cowboys and Indians”.  To put it even more succinctly, these people are stuck on stupid.

Think Progress

“The bells of liberty are surely ringing throughout Florida today.” said state Rep. Heather Dawes Fitzenhagen (R). The cause of Fitzenhagen’s delight is a bill that would allow people with no criminal record to carry a concealed weapon without a permit in crisis or evacuation scenarios. Her bill, which applies to natural disaster scenarios such as hurricanes or forest fires and emergencies declared by the governor or local authorities, passed the state House of Representatives by a 80-36 margin.

Other lawmakers are not quite so excited about this bill. Democratic Rep. Victor Torres, a retired New York City transit police officer, opposed the bill noting that guns in places like storm shelters could be dangerous and increase tension in an already stressful scenario — “[y]ou are talking about introducing concealed firearms into an environment that is already teeming with tension. I hope that tragedy will not be a byproduct of our decision here today.” The bill’s opponents also noted that it would be difficult to check whether a particular individual has a criminal record in an emergency situation such as a hurricane when many technological databases would be unavailable, and that firearms could be used in robberies or other crimes at a time when looting is widespread.

While the bill received support from the National Rifle Association, several law-enforcement lobbyists, most notably the Florida Sheriffs Association, opposed the bill. When asked about their opposition, Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford offered “We don’t want to kill the bill, we want to clarify it. Does it mean when you’re moving out, when you check into your hotel?”

 

Florida Moves To Restrict Media Access To Stand Your Ground Case Records

Rep. Matt Gaetz (Florida House of Representatives)

You know something’s wrong when they resort to these measures…

The Huffington Post

After a Tampa Bay Times’ review of 200 cases that involved the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law found an “uneven application” and “shocking outcomes,” one Florida lawmaker is seeking to impede the media’s ability to scrutinize the law.

Earlier this month, state Rep. Matt Gaetz(R-Fort Walton Beach) filed an amendment that would “severely limit access to court records in the self-defense cases,” the Times’ Michael van Sickler reports.

The amendment would allow those found innocent in a Stand Your Ground case to“apply for a certificate of eligibility to expunge the associated criminal history record.”

Gaetz said his amendment was unrelated to the Times’ Stand Your Ground investigation, the Associated Press reports. “The point is to ensure that someone who appropriately uses a Stand Your Ground defense doesn’t have their life ruined by the use of that defense,” he said.

Gaetz’s amendment has sparked concern among journalists, Media Matters reports, who say the loss of access to public records could have damaging effects. Alongside statements from editors at the Miami Herald and Florida Times-Union are the opinions of staff who worked on the groundbreaking review by the Times:

“Closing records and putting controversial cases that involve violence into the dark is a bad idea, it is against democracy,” said Neil Brown, Times editor and vice president. “This would have inhibited our work further. Our work was done based on court records as well as the stories of the incidents when they occurred.”

The Times coverage was named a finalist for the Online News Association’s Knight Award for Public Service and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism’s Taylor Award for Fairness in Journalism. The investigation has played a key role in informing other outlets’ coverage of cases relating to Stand Your Ground statutes.

It utilized hundreds of court and arrest records to reveal that the law was being interpreted in many different ways and being applied without a uniform approach, according to Kris Hundley, one of the three Times reporters who worked on the project.

“If those were expunged, I don’t know how you would ever do any kind of meaningful look back at the law,” Hundley said. “I think it was important because it gave people a sense of how it was applied across the state, how judges made different decisions faced with similar cases and the wide variety of cases in which it was employed. It showed the law was being expanded to far beyond what the legislators anticipated and (was) applied unevenly.”

Marion Hammer, a former NRA national president who founded and heads the organization’s Florida chapter, said the amendment is about protecting individuals who defend themselves within the law.

“It’s overreach on the media’s part to think they need to know everything about everybody’s life,” Hammer, who personally crafted the proposal that would become Stand Your Groundtold the Times/Herald. “The media wants to know this so they can create news. Privacy is an important thing in America. When people are wronged it should be repaired, and it shouldn’t be anybody’s business.”

The bill to which the amendment is attached — which would extend Stand Your Ground immunity to those who fire warning shots during a confrontation — has sailed through the Florida House.

The warning shot measure has enjoyed some bipartisan support in light of the high-profile case of Marissa Alexander. The Jacksonville woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing what she said was a warning shot into her own ceiling during a confrontation with her estranged husband. (An appeals court has ruled Alexander will get a new trial.)

But some Democrats are unhappy with the proposed expansion of Stand Your Ground. One local lawmaker asserted that the law has harmed black residents, and the Times study found that shooters who cited Stand Your Ground were more likely to prevail when the victim was black. Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee), who filed a repeal of Stand Your Ground last fall, has argued instead, “Don’t make this about color, make this about what’s right and wrong. Make this about life and death.”

Gaetz has already encountered resistance from Democrats, including Williams, over Stand Your Ground. Last fall, Florida Republicans seemed to concede to public opposition when they agreed to hold hearings on the law. Gaetz, who was appointed to chair the meetings, announced before the hearings began that he did not “support changing one damn comma of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law,” and characterized any changes as “reactionary and dangerous” and protestors as “uninformed.”

“So much for an objective review of the law’s unintended consequences,” wrote the Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board at the time.

The Senate’s version of the warning shot bill is expected to see a vote this week.

H/t: Ted

In Justifiable Homicide Cases, Race Disparity Extends To Women, Too

Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander | CREDIT: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Clearly, the process needs to be re-examined…

Think Progress

Past studies have found that the notorious Stand Your Ground laws that authorize deadly force in self-defense exacerbate racial disparities. Among all cases, the Urban Institute has found that white-on-black homicides are 354 percent more likely to be found justified than white-on-white homicides in states with Stand Your Ground laws.

As Marissa Alexander is facing 60 years in prison in a case in which she unsuccessfully invoked the defense for firing a warning shot during a dispute with her abusive boyfriend, MSNBC looked at racial disparities among women, albeit those who, unlike Alexander, purportedly killed a man in self-defense. While white women with black victims were found justified 13.5 percent of the time, blacks who kill whites are found justified just 2.9 percent of the time, and even whites who kill whites are found justified only 2.6 percent of the time.

“In any situation where a black male is perceived as being the aggressor, you are much more likely to have the homicide considered justifiable,” said John Roman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute who performed the research for MSNBC.

MSNBCHomicidesWomen

Significantly, these statistics come from an analysis of FBI data, which does not include Florida. So MSNBC looks to a Tampa Bay Times analysis of Florida. “All the cases where a woman did not succeed in claiming self-defense, including several in which she said she was the victim of rape or other physical abuse, involved white males,” MSNBC’s Irin Carmon notes. “By contrast, among the eight murder cases found justified, half involved women killing black men. Those cases included both intimate partner and stranger violence.”

The story of Marissa Alexander raises questions about the role domestic violence considerations play in Stand Your Ground cases. Prosecutor Angela Corey has eschewed sympathy for Alexander, even amidst public outcry. While Corey’s vigorous prosecution yielded Alexander a 20-year prison sentence the first time she was convicted of assault for firing the gun, she is now seeing three consecutive 20-year terms — a total of 60 years, after Alexander was granted a new trial and released from prison in the interim. By contrast, others in Florida who have been granted immunity in Florida were involved in bar fights or heated altercations.

West Wing Week 03/14/14 or “What’s Up, Captain America?”

The White House

This week, the Vice President and Dr. Biden traveled to Chile to attend the inauguration of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, while President Obama worked on improving access to college for students, raising the minimum wage, and negotiating a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Ukraine. He also got out the word about the March 31 deadline for health insurance applications, congratulated NCAA champs, and designated a new national monument.

 

Friday, March 7th

·       The President and First Lady visited Coral Reef High School in Miami, Florida to speak about the importance of signing up for Federal financial aid.

Monday, March 10th

·       The President participated in a conference call with healthcare enrollment leaders.

·       The President congratulated the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division I Champions at the White House.

Tuesday, March 11th

·      Funny or Die released an interview with President Obama on the web series Between Two Ferns.

·      The President added the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands to existing National Monument land in California

·      Later that day, the President visited a Gap Store in New York City to highlight Gap’s choice to raise the minimum wage for their               employees.

Wednesday, March 12th

·     The President met with a group of advocates who are getting the word out about the Affordable Care Act.

·      Later that day, the President held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Ukraine.

·      Then, the President hosted a meeting with women members of Congressto discuss the 2014 women’s economic agenda.

Thursday, March 13th

·       The President spoke on the urgent need to get hardworking Americans the overtime pay they deserve.

·       Later, the President took a photo with the 52nd Annual U.S. Sentae Youth program.

 

10 things you need to know today: March 12, 2014

Searchers for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight started looking in new directions Tuesday. 

Searchers for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight started looking in new directions Tuesday. | (AP Photo/Jeri Huanda)

The Week

Republicans win a preview of November’s mid-terms, Malaysia says plane turned around before vanishing, and more

1. Republican wins closely watched Florida special election
Republican David Jolly beat Democrat Alex Sink in a Tuesday special election to fill a vacant Congressional seat in Florida. The vote was seen as a bellwether ahead of November’s mid-term elections, partly because Florida is a major swing state. GOP leaders said the vote was a condemnation of ObamaCare, although the seat on Florida’s Gulf Coast was held for more than 40 years by Jolly’s late boss, Republican C.W. Bill Young. [Reuters]
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2. Plane that disappeared flew off course
The Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished Saturday with 239 people on board changed course sharply before disappearing from radar screens, Malaysia’s air force chief said Wednesday. Air force chief Gen. Rodzali Daud said the turn was tracked on radar. Investigators still had no solid clues on what happened to the airliner after five days, and they expanded the already vast search area from the South China Sea to India’s territorial waters. [The Associated Press]
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3. Feinstein accuses CIA of spying on Senate panel
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Tuesday accused the Central Intelligence Agency of unlawfully searching her committee’s computers. Feinstein said the CIA “violated the separation-of-powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution” by trying to undermine her panel’s investigation of a controversial CIA spying program. CIA Director John Brennan promptly disputed the claim. [The Washington Post]
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4. Huge fire engulfs San Francisco apartment project
A massive, five-alarm fire destroyed a quarter-billion-dollar apartment complex under construction in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood on Tuesday. The fire started during the afternoon, and by evening was sending flames 40 feet into the air, forcing the evacuation of 100 people from neighboring buildings. There were no reports of injuries as night fell. [San Jose Mercury-News]
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5. Bachelet sworn in as Chile’s president
Michelle Bachelet was sworn in as president of Chile on Tuesday, after being officially declared the winner of a Dec. 15 runoff. Bachelet, of the center-left New Majority coalition, defeated conservative Evelyn Rose Matthei with 62 percent of the vote. Bachelet’s father, air force brigadier general Alberto Bachelet, died in 1974 after being tortured by the government for opposing military ruler Augusto Pinochet. [ABC News]
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6. Prosecutors investigate GM’s delay in revealing cars’ fatal flaw
The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation of General Motors over deadly safety problems that persisted for years before a big recall last month. Prosecutors are accusing the car company — the biggest in the U.S. — of failing to comply with federal laws requiring automakers to promptly report defects. Faulty ignitions switches in Chevy Cobalts and other cars have been linked to 13 deaths. [The New York Times]
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7. Men’s Wearhouse announces it is buying Jos. A. Bank
Men’s Wearhouse said Tuesday that it was buying Jos. A. Bank Clothiers for $1.8 billion. The deal marks the end of five months of wrangling that started when Jos. A Bank tried to buy its larger rival for $2.3 billion. The Men’s Warehouse offer amounted to a 5.1 percent premium over Jos. A. Bank’s Monday closing stock price. “It’s a second Christmas for Jos. A. Bank shareholders,” said one merger expert. [Reuters]
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8. Man allegedly mailed bomb addressed to Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Federal authorities said Tuesday that an Oklahoma man mailed explosives to Arizona sheriff andimmigration hawk Joe Arpaio last year. The package was discovered in a collection box in northern Arizona. Investigators at first thought the device could have been deadly, but they later realized it wasn’t operable. A 55-year-old Oklahoma man, Gregory Lynn Shrader, is accused of putting the device in the mail. [The Associated Press]
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9. Louisiana inmate freed after 30 years on death row
Glenn Ford was released from a Louisiana prison on Tuesday after spending nearly 30 years on death row. Ford was sentenced for the Nov. 5, 1983, murder of Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport businessman. Ford was the longest serving death-row inmate, but was finally exonerated with the help of lawyers from the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana. “It feels good,” Ford said. [USA Today]
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10. FDA approves device to curb migraines
The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that it had approved the first medical device to prevent migraines. The device, called Cefaly, resembles a tiara worn on the head. It has a battery-powered electrode that stimulates nerves beneath the forehead, just above the eyes. In a study published last month in the journal Neurology, 38 percent of chronic migraine sufferers reported a 50 percent drop in migraine episodes. [CNN]

Who are the real thugs?

Michael Dunn is seen during a recess in his trial in Jacksonville, Fla., Monday Feb. 10, 2014. The prosecution has rested in the trial of Dunn accused of killing a teen following an argument over loud music outside a Jacksonville convenience store in 2012. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack, Pool)

The case of Michael Dunn bears a resemblance to another in Florida, Simon says. | AP Photo

Politico - Roger Simon

The Durango is red, which is unimportant. The teenagers are black, which is important.

The teenagers are planning to try to pick up some girls later in the evening and have stopped for some gum — “so our breath would smell good,” one will later testify — and cigarettes. The teenagers are playing loud music in the Durango.

A car pulls up next to the Durango, parking very close to it. Inside is Michael Dunn, 45, a software developer, and his fiancée. Both are white. Dunn’s fiancée goes into the store while Dunn waits in the car.

The couple are coming from the wedding of Dunn’s son. They have Dunn’s 7-month-old dog with them. Dunn had two drinks at the wedding but is not “buzzed,” he will later say. He describes his mood as happy.

But the loud, throbbing music from the Durango upsets him. It is rattling his rearview mirror, he will later claim. The music, he will say, is “ridiculously, obnoxiously loud thug music” and “rap crap.”

Dunn does not change parking spaces or go inside the store to join his fiancée and escape the noise. Instead, he rolls down his window and asks the teenagers to turn down the music. “They shut it off, and I was like, ‘Thank you,’” Dunn later tells police.

But one of the teenagers in the Durango objects and tells the driver to turn the music back on. Dunn rolls down his window again and words are exchanged between him and one of the teenagers. Dunn will tell police the teenagers were “menacing.”

“It got ugly,” Dunn later says. “I heard ‘something-something cracker.’”

The situation escalates. Dunn claims seeing one teenager pushing open the door of the Durango. (This is later denied by the teenagers.) Dunn also claims that he sees a weapon in the Durango. “I saw a barrel come up on the window, like a single-shot shotgun. … It was either a barrel or a stick,” Dunn tells police. “I’m sh—-ing bricks, but that’s when I reached in my glove box, unholstered my pistol … and so, quicker than a flash, I had a round chambered in it, and I shot.” Dunn says he always keeps the pistol loaded.

Why, you might ask, had Dunn taken a loaded 9mm Taurus PT semiautomatic handgun to a wedding?

Hey, this is Florida. The Gunshine State.

Dunn fires four shots into the Durango. The Durango pulls away. Dunn gets out of his car and aims again at the teenagers’ vehicle. “I was still scared and so I shot four more times … trying to keep their heads down to not catch any return fire. And that was it,” Dunn says later.

Police will find no shotgun or any other gun in the Durango or in the vicinity. No witness sees any shotgun or any other weapons in the Durango. When Dunn’s fiancée returns to the car, Dunn mentions the shooting but does not mention any shotgun.

The couple drive 40 miles to a bed and breakfast and relax. They order a pizza, they drink some wine and Dunn walks his dog. He learns from a report on TV that one of the teenagers in the Durango has died. He does not call police.

The next day, he and his fiancée drive 130 miles to his home in South Patrick Shores. Dunn says he “was waiting till we get around people we know” and he wanted to ensure “our dog and everybody were where they needed to be.” A witness to the shooting had called police with Dunn’s license plate number, and Dunn is arrested.

Three of the bullets fired by Dunn had hit Jordan Davis, 17. One severed his aorta, killing him.

Davis, a high school junior, had just gotten a job at McDonald’s to earn extra money. At Thanksgiving dinner, the day before he was shot, he thanked God for his family — especially his mom.

Dunn is charged with one count of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of shooting into an occupied vehicle.

He pleads not guilty, saying he shot in self-defense.

One of his lawyers will tell reporters that Dunn acted “as any responsible firearms owner would have.”

Dunn’s lawyer at trial, Cory Strolla, tells the jury: “God didn’t make all men equal. Colt did. Colt is a firearm. [Dunn] had every right under the law to not be a victim, to be judged by 12 rather than carried by six.”

On Saturday, the jury deadlocked on the charge of murder but found Dunn guilty of attempted murder and shooting into a car. His lawyer says he will appeal. The prosecutor says she will try Dunn again for murder.

There are some similarities between this case and the case of George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin, in Sanford, Fla. In neither case was Florida’s “stand your ground” law cited by defense lawyers, but in both trials the judges mentioned it to the juries.

Florida’s “stand your ground” defense law states that people need not retreat from attackers and can use deadly force in their own defense if they reasonably believe they may be hurt or killed.

In both the Zimmerman case and the Dunn case, armed white men shot and killed unarmed black teenagers.

Strolla, Dunn’s lawyer, said, however, the trial was not about race but about a “subculture thug issue.”

But who are the real thugs? The unarmed black kids who play loud music or walk to stores to buy Skittles? Or the white guys who are armed to the teeth and quick on the trigger?

Michael Dunn Headed to Prison for the Shots that Failed to Kill

MichaelDunn

PoliticusUSA

Michael Dunn will likely receive a lengthy prison sentence after a jury found him guilty on three counts of attempted murder and one count of firing into a vehicle. The jury however was unable to reach agreement on the charge of first degree murder for killing Jordan Davis. On that charge, a mistrial was declared, but the four felony counts that Dunn was found guilty of could still send him to prison for up to 75 years. Dunn’s sentencing is scheduled for March 24th.

Dunn was remanded to custody after being convicted, and if the judge gives him anything close to the maximum sentence on each charge, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. Yet, the verdict was disconcerting for one simple reason. Dunn was not convicted for murdering Jordan Davis. Had he confined his shooting to firing one or two fatal shots, he conceivably could have dodged the four felony counts and been in a position to get away with murder.

The case once again highlights the difficulty in convicting shooters who kill unarmed young black men. Although Dunn did face some consequences for his behavior and the case was so egregious, the jury still struggled with the notion that Dunn was guilty. Apparently by merely raising the suggestion that Jordan Davis could have had a gun, even though no gun was found, Dunn’s attorneys were able to plant the seed of doubt in the jury. A white guy who shoots black teenagers should be given the benefit of the doubt, the jury apparently reasoned. Even if the shooter fails to contact the police after murdering a black youth and instead orders pizza for take out, he is entitled to the benefit of the doubt because after all the guy he shot was black and black people are scary to white people.

In Florida, and in the United States, it is easier to get away with homicide if the victim is black. This is true no matter what race the shooter is although black shooters who shoot African-Americans are less likely to successfully claim self-defense than white or Hispanics who kill African-Americans. In  Stand Your Ground cases in Florida, whites or Hispanics who kill African-Americans are only convicted about ten percent of the time. When a non-white kills a white person and tries to use Stand Your Ground defense they are four times more likely to be convicted than a white or Hispanic person who kills a black person. While the Michael Dunn case did not technically invoke Stand Your Ground in a pre-trial motion, his self-defense argument underscores the racial disparities that define American court cases.

Had the shooter been an African-American who shot four white teenagers who were listening to country music in their pickup truck, does anybody think the jury would have struggled with convicting the black man of murder? It is possible but unlikely. In the United States, racial prejudices still operate and many Americans who find there way on juries presume that young African-American males are threatening or potential criminals. With such latent prejudices looming beneath the surface in the psyches of jurors, it makes convicting a white man who claims he felt threatened by a young black man extremely difficult.

Dunn will go to prison simply because his behavior was so egregious and because he was so trigger happy that he pumped an SUV full of bullets, firing ten shots into the vehicle even after it was retreating.  Nevertheless, the jury’s inability to agree that Dunn committed first degree murder still should give our nation cause for collective pause. A jury once again has raised questions about whether our justice system places the same value on young black lives as it does on white lives. The answer appears to be negative, but perhaps Dunn will be convicted if and when the case is retried. While he awaits a possible retrial, at least he will be doing so from a prison cell.  The only irony is that he will be doing time for the shots that missed and not for the fatal shot that took Jordan Davis’ life. That is a tragedy, even if Dunn spends the rest of his life in prison where he belongs.

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