Michael Dunn, the Florida man who shot a teenager to death in a convenience store parking lot after an argument over loud music playing in the teen’s car, was found guilty on three counts of second-degree attempted murder on Saturday evening, the New York Times reports. After four days of deliberation, however, the jury could not reach a decision on the murder charge, and a mistrial was declared on that final count.
As Rolling Stone reported last year, Dunn, a 47-year-old white man, had opened fire on an SUV containing Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old African-American high school senior, and three of his friends in Jacksonville, Florida on November 23rd, 2012. An argument had erupted between Dunn and the teens after Dunn asked them to turn down the music they were listening to. Dunn claims that Davis had threatened him, and that he saw what he believed was the barrel of a shotgun sticking out from the teens’ car. Dunn fired 10 bullets at the SUV, then drove away to his hotel without ever calling the cops. Police found no gun in the teenagers’ car, no witnesses reported ever seeing one, and Dunn’s own girlfriend said he’d never mentioned that the boys had a shotgun before he was arrested.
Witnesses did confirm that Dunn had shouted at Davis, “You can’t talk to me that way!” and that he had opened his door to get a better shooting angle at the teens’ SUV. Dunn had continued shooting at them as they peeled out of the parking lot, hitting Davis in the chest and groin.
Dunn’s case hinged on Florida’s self-defense laws, which allow people who believe themselves threatened to protect themselves with lethal force, and the trial brought to mind the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. As Dunn’s lawyer, Corey Strolla told Rolling Stone last year, “I don’t have to prove the threat, just that Mike Dunn believed it. This is a family man who never had a violent incident in his life, who acted because of words said by Jordan Davis. He screamed, ‘Fuck you, motherfucker, I’m gonna kill you,’ and was trying to open his door to get out. So absolutely, this is a Stand Your Ground case, based on the law in Florida.” The jurors were ultimately unable to decide whether Dunn had acted in self-defense or was guilty of murder.
Each of the three attempted second-degree murder convictions (one for each of Davis’ three friends in the car, who were not struck by Dunn’s gunfire) carries a minimum sentence of at least 20 years, CNN reports. Dunn may face an additional 15 years for the conviction on firing a gun into a car. State Attorney Angela Corey said that she plans to retry Dunn on the first-degree murder charge.
In an emotional speech after the verdict was delivered, Davis’ father spoke out against Florida’s self-defense laws, as Salon reports. “[Jordan] was a good kid. It wasn’t allowed to be said in the court room, but we’ll say it. He was a good kid,” Ron Davis said. “There are a lot of good kids out there . . . They should have a voice. They shouldn’t have to live in fear … that if they get shot, it’s just collateral damage . . . We do not accept a law that would allow collateral damage to our family members . . . We expect the law to be behind us, and protect us. That’s what I wanted the law to do – to protect Jordan as we protected Jordan.”