Murder of Jordan Davis
This article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject.(January 2021)
|Murder of Jordan Davis|
|Location||8251 Southside Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.|
|Date||November 23, 2012 |
|Weapons||Taurus PT 99 AF|
|Victim||Jordan Russell Davis|
|Perpetrator||Michael David Dunn|
|Charges||First-degree murder, attempted murder, firing into an occupied vehicle|
The murder of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old high school student, happened on November 23, 2012, at a Gate Petroleum gas station in Jacksonville, Florida, by Michael David Dunn, a 45-year-old software developer, following an argument over loud music played by Davis and his three friends.
Dunn was convicted on three counts of attempted second-degree murder for firing at three other teenagers who were with Davis and one count of firing into a vehicle. The jury could not reach a verdict about whether to convict Dunn for the murder of Davis at the first trial. In a second trial, Dunn was found guilty of the first-degree murder of Davis.
The shooting of Jordan Davis took place in Jacksonville in Duval County. Around 7:30 p.m., four teenage boys (Leland Brunson, Jordan Davis, Tommie Stornes, and Tevin Thompson) stopped at a Gate Petroleum gas station. Stornes left the car running while he went into the store. Brunson, Davis and Thompson remained in the vehicle listening to music which was described as "very loud." Michael Dunn and his girlfriend Rhonda Rouer pulled into the adjacent parking spot. Rouer left the car to purchase white wine and chips. She testified that Dunn told her, "I hate that thug music" before she left the car for the store, although Dunn claims he used the phrase "rap crap."
The bass from loud hip-hop music ("Beef" by Lil Reese, Lil Durk and Fredo Santana) playing in the teens' SUV annoyed Dunn, who asked for it to be turned down. The front seat passenger, Tevin Thompson, initially complied, but Jordan Davis requested the volume be turned back up.
The argument continued and an independent witness overheard Dunn say, "You aren't going to talk to me like that." Dunn, who had a concealed weapons permit, took a handgun out of his glove compartment and started firing at Davis's door, hitting him in the legs, lungs, and aorta. As the SUV backed up to evade his gunshots, Dunn opened his own door and continued firing at the car in shooter's stance, later testifying that he still feared for his safety as well as that of Rouer, who was to return to the vehicle imminently.
After the shooting, Stornes drove the SUV away to a nearby parking lot and stopped to find Davis "gasping for air". Rouer returned to Dunn's car and they went back to their hotel where they ordered pizza. Dunn did not contact the police. The next morning, Rouer saw a report about the shooting on the news, indicating that Jordan Davis had died. On the drive home, Dunn testified, he called a neighbor who works in law enforcement to arrange to speak to him about the shooting, but phone records indicate that the neighbor actually called him, and Rouer testified that the shooting was never mentioned during the call. Dunn returned to his home in Satellite Beach the following day at 10:30 a.m., where he was arrested after an eyewitness reported his license plate to police.
After his arrest, Dunn claimed that Davis threatened him with a "gun or a stick." Dunn's girlfriend said no such item was mentioned to her at any point. Investigators later searched the teenagers’ SUV and found no weapons. Davis's friends testified that he could not have opened his door because the child lock was set. Contrary to Dunn's claim that he mentioned a weapon to Rouer several times, she testified that he never mentioned a gun either that night or the next day.
Shortly after Davis's death, his parents, Ron Davis and Lucy McBath, and some of the other vehicle occupants, filed civil complaints against Dunn. They were represented by John Michael Phillips in wrongful death and defamation lawsuits against Dunn. The cases were settled for an undisclosed amount in January 2014. Dunn's insurance company, Progressive Select Insurance, challenged its duty to cover the lawsuit, but dismissed its lawsuit in conjunction with the settlement. In his criminal trial, Dunn had been declared "broke."
In closing arguments at the first trial, the defense lawyer for Michael Dunn cited the language of Florida's stand-your-ground law. On February 15, 2014, after more than 30 hours of deliberation, the jury found Dunn guilty on the three counts of attempted murder. The jury could not reach an agreement on the charge of first-degree murder, and the judge declared a mistrial on that count. Florida state attorney Angela Corey stated that her office would seek a retrial for this charge. Dunn's attorney subsequently requested that sentencing on the four counts of which Dunn already had been convicted be delayed until after Dunn's retrial. Dunn faced a minimum of 75 years in prison on these counts: a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years for each count of attempted second-degree murder, and up to 15 years for firing into a vehicle.
Jury selection in Dunn's retrial began on September 22, 2014, and opening statements took place on September 25. Dunn was found guilty on October 1, 2014, at the conclusion of the retrial. Dunn was given a sentence of life in prison without parole plus 90 years.
Following the trial, Dunn's attorney filed for appeal with the First District Court of Appeal for the State of Florida. On November 17, 2016, his appeal was denied.
Dunn's former neighbor, Charles Hendrix, said he was not surprised by his behavior. Hendrix described Dunn as arrogant and controlling, adding that Dunn's ex-wives told him that Dunn was violent and abusive toward them, although he never personally witnessed this. Hendrix spoke of a previous discussion where Dunn asked him if he knew anyone who would "take care of" someone who infuriated him in an unrelated incident, and Hendrix interpreted further discussion as Dunn wanting to send a hit on this person.
Davis' father Ron Davis said, "I'm in constant contact with Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father, and I text Sybrina [Trayvon's mother] all the time and I just want to let them know, every time I get justice for Jordan, it's going to be justice for Trayvon, for us." He said he wanted to confront Dunn in jail about his son's murder.
Rebecca Dunn, Dunn's daughter, defended her father's story, by her statement during an interview, "He is going to protect himself if he sees no other way than to bring out his gun, then that's what he's going to do." She described Dunn as "a good man. He's not a racist. He's very loving."
Davis' mother, Lucy McBath, ran for Congress in Georgia's 6th congressional district in 2018, running on a platform that included reform of gun laws; McBath cited the activism of students after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting as a reason for her run. She defeated incumbent Karen Handel, winning 160,139 votes (50.5%) to Handel's 156,875 (49.5%). In 2020, she defeated Handel in a rematch to win reelection to a second term.
In January 2015, the documentary 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets (originally titled 3 ½ Minutes) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The documentary, directed by Marc Silver, explores the shooting, the trial, and Florida's Stand Your Ground laws. The documentary won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The film distribution was sold to HBO.
Davis's story also features in the 2015 documentary film The Armor of Light, the directorial debut of Disney heir Abigail Disney. The film follows Rob Schenck, a pro-life Evangelical minister; Lucy McBath, the mother of teenager Jordan Davis; and attorney John Michael Phillips as they interact in the years after the shooting. It debates the question: Is it possible to be both pro-gun and pro-life? The Armor of Light premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2015 before opening theatrically on October 30, 2015.
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He also said he was going home to talk with a law enforcement neighbor about the shooting, and that he called him on the way home. Phone records produced by Guy indicated that the neighbor called him, not vice versa. In a rebuttal, fiancee Rhonda Rouer repeated that Dunn did not tell her about the gun and that the neighbor called him and the shooting didn't come up.
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