|Murder of Jordan Davis|
|Part of racism against African Americans|
|Location||8251 Southside Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.|
|Date||November 23, 2012 |
|Child murder by shooting, attempted murder|
|Weapons||Taurus PT 99 AF|
|Victim||Jordan Russell Davis, aged 17|
|Perpetrator||Michael David Dunn|
|Motive||Personal argument, anti-black racism|
|Verdict||Guilty on all counts|
|Sentence||Two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole[a]|
On November 23, 2012, Jordan Davis, a black 17-year-old high school student, was murdered at a Gate Petroleum gas station in Jacksonville, Florida, by Michael David Dunn, a white 45-year-old software developer, following an argument over loud music played by Davis and his three friends, in what was believed to be a racially motivated shooting.
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 an occupied 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 and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole plus 105 years in prison, which is two de facto consecutive life sentences.
Dunn and his fiancée Rhonda Rouer traveled from their home in Brevard County to attend Dunn's son's wedding in Orange Park, near Jacksonville, Florida. Dunn and Rouer left the wedding early in order to return to their hotel and take care of their six-month-old puppy. On the way back to their hotel, the two decided to stop at the Gate Petroleum gas station to purchase a bottle of wine.
Tommie Stornes, Leland Brunson, Jordan Davis, and Tevin Thompson had been spending the day traveling to various malls when they decided to go to the Gate Petroleum gas station in order to buy gum and cigarettes.
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 his red Dodge Durango SUV running while he went into the store. Brunson, Davis, and Thompson remained in the vehicle listening to music which was described as "very loud." Dunn, driving a black Volkswagen Jetta sedan, and his fiancée Rhonda Rouer pulled into the right adjacent parking spot. Rouer left their 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, though Dunn claims he used the phrase "rap crap."
The bass from the loud music playing in the teens' SUV annoyed Dunn, who asked for it to be turned down. The front seat passenger, Tevin Thompson, initially complied and turned the volume down, but Jordan Davis requested the volume be turned back up.
As Stornes returned to the SUV, Davis' protests continued and an independent witness overheard Dunn say "No, you're not gonna talk to me that way." Dunn, who had a concealed weapons permit, took a handgun out of his glove compartment and started firing at Davis' 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, as the boys ducked for cover. Dunn later testified that he still feared for his safety as well as that of Rouer who was to return to the vehicle imminently.
Rouer returned to Dunn's car. They returned 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. Dunn testified that on the drive home 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 fiancée, who served as an adversarial witness, said no such item was mentioned to her at any point. Investigators later searched the teenagers' SUV and found no weapons. Forensic scientists determined that in the short distance the boys traveled, a weapon could not have been stashed in a place that would not have been immediately visible to crime scene investigators. Contrary to Dunn's claim that he mentioned a weapon to Rouer, 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."
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. Former 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 the following 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 moving 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.
On June 22, 2020, the Florida Supreme Court rejected Dunn's appeal and refused to take the case. Dunn stated that he received "ineffective assistance of counsel". The justices did not explain their reasons behind the refusal.
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 put 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.
Davis' murder is one of many referenced by social justice activists (including many black parents) as a reminder that unarmed children who died at the hands of police or white men mattered as individual human beings. ABC News, Australia says the case has become part of the national conversation about the dangers facing young black men in America today. The murder is believed to have inspired activism of the Black Lives Matter movement. During the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Davis' mother, Lucy McBath, talked about supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and said, "His death doesn't overshadow his life."
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. The film 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.
- Neale, Rick (September 28, 2014). "Dunn jury hears from former fiancee, juror dismissed". Florida Today. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
- Bouie, Jamelle (February 19, 2014). "Michael Dunn, Jordan Davis, and America's Racist Heritage". The Daily Beast.
- "Black Teen's Shooter Rants About Killing 'Thugs' So They 'May Take the Hint and Change Their Behavior'". October 18, 2013.
- Tienabeso, Seni (February 17, 2014). "'I Was the Victim,' Says Loud Music Trial Shooter in Jailhouse Phone Call". ABC News. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- https://efactssc-public.flcourts.org/casedocuments/2019/2063/2019-2063_notice_88213_notice2ddiscretionary20juris2028direct20conflict29.pdf[bare URL PDF]
- "Rhonda Rouer Testimony". Youtube. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
- Eliott C. McLaughlin (February 6, 2014). "Did Jordan Davis have weapon? Attorneys spar in loud music murder trial". CNN. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
- Kinner, Derek (February 15, 2014). "Michael Dunn Verdict: Florida Man Found Guilty Of Attempted Murder In Loud-Music Trial". HuffPost. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Dahl, Julia (February 7, 2014). "Teens testify shooter Dunn said "Are you talking to me?"". CBS News.
- Hsieh, Steven (February 15, 2014). "Jury Fails to Reach Verdict on Murder Charge in Michael DunnTrail". The Nation. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
- Alvarez, Lizette (February 11, 2014). "Florida Man's Fiancée Contradicts Parts of his Testimony in Killing of Teenager". The New York Times.
- "Song played in Jordan Davis shooting revealed". First Coast News. February 8, 2014.[permanent dead link]
- Sloane, Amanda (February 7, 2014). "Friends describe moments before Jordan Davis died". HLN. Archived from the original on February 26, 2014. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
- "Michael Dunn 'Loud Music' Verdict: Mistrial For First-Degree Murder Charge Causes Outrage". IBT. February 16, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
- McLaughlin, Elliot C. (February 11, 2014). "Did Jordan Davis have weapon? Attorneys spar in loud music murder trial". CNN. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- "Michael Dunn testifies; fiancee says he never told her about gun; closings Wednesday". The Florida Times-Union. February 11, 2014.
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.
- Wallace, Kamal (February 10, 2014). "Michael Dunn's girlfriend: 'I heard pop, pop, pop'". HLN.
- Brevard man charged in homicide: Another stand your ground showdown?, Florida Today, December 15, 2013.
- McLaughlin, Elliot C. & Karimi, Faith. (February 14, 2014). "Florida jurors continue deliberations Saturday in loud-music murder trial". CNN.
- McLaughlin, Eliott (February 11, 2014). "Did Jordan Davis have weapon? Attorneys spar in loud music murder trial". CNN.
- Alvarez, Lizette (February 13, 2014). "Weapon in Slaying of Florida Teenager Figures Again in Court". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
- Pantazi, Andrew (January 5, 2014). "Jordan Davis' parents settle wrongful death suit with Michael Dunn". The St. Augustine Record. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- "Progressive Select Insurance Company v. Dunn et al (3:13-cv-00402), Florida Middle District Court". pacermonitor.com. January 13, 2014. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
- Lee, Trymaine (September 13, 2013). "Attorney for Jordan Davis' family says it's about hate, not race". MSNBC. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Ross, Janell (January 25, 2013). "Ron Davis, Father Of Slain Florida Teen Jordan Davis, Ready To Fight". HuffPost. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- "Juror: Some On Panel Thought The Killing Of Unarmed Teen Jordan Davis Was 'Justified'". ThinkProgress. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
- Malbran, Pia & O'Donnell, Noreen (February 17, 2014). "Michael Dunn, in just released phone calls, describes himself as victim after killing teenager". HuffPost. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Hannan, Larry (June 9, 2014). "Michael Dunn won't be sentenced till after new Sept. 22 trial on 1st-degree murder charge of Jordan Davis". jacksonville.com. The Florida Times-Union. Archived from the original on October 23, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
- "EXCLUSIVE: Dunn's daughter, 'It should never have happened.'". First Coast News. February 17, 2014. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
- Muskal, Michael (February 15, 2014). "Michael Dunn convicted on 4 of 5 charges in loud-music murder case". Los Angeles Times.
- "Michael Dunn sentenced to life without parole for killing of Florida teenager". The Guardian. October 17, 2014. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
- "Verdict: Michael Dunn found guilty of first degree murder". Archived from the original on October 1, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
- Kinner, Derek (September 25, 2014). "Florida Man on Trial Again in Loud Music Killing". ABC News. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
- Larry, Larry (May 26, 2014). "Prosecutors want to put Michael Dunn in prison before murder retrial". jacksonville.com. The Florida Times-Union. Archived from the original on October 7, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
- Sanchez, Ray (October 17, 2014). "Life without parole for loud-music murderer in Florida". CNN. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- Michael Dunn sentenced to life without parole for killing of Florida teenager, The Guardian, October 17, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
- Appeal filed in Michael Dunn's conviction in teen Jordan Davis' death, The Florida Times-Union, Mar 16, 2016. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- , "USA Today"
- "Supreme Court rejects Brevard man's appeal in racially tinged murder of Jordan Davis in Jacksonville". Florida Today. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
- NANCY GRACE: "Loud Music Murder" Jury Still Deliberating, February 13, 2014
- He's a very angry man. CNN. February 17, 2014.
- "Ron Davis in contact with Trayvon's father", ABC News. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
- Jordan Davis' dad wants to confront son's killer in jail. CNN. February 20, 2014.
- Grace, Nancy (February 20, 2014), Victim's Father Wants to Meet "Loud Music" Shooter, CNN
- "Hear Dunn's daughter react to verdict". CNN. February 17, 2014.
- Daughter defends father found guilty of attempted murder in loud music trial, Associated Press, February 17, 2014, archived from the original on September 21, 2015, retrieved February 21, 2014
- Ruiz-Grossman, Sarah; Mosbergen, Dominique (May 23, 2018). "Gun Reform Advocate Lucy McBath Heads To Runoff For Georgia House Seat". HuffPost. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
- Williams, Vanessa. "Citing Parkland shooting, anti-gun-violence activist is running for Congress in Georgia". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
- Herndon, Astead W. (November 8, 2018). "Lucy McBath Wins Georgia Congressional Race Against Karen Handel". The New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
- Smith, Aidan (May 9, 2021). "When Black women use motherhood's power to advocate for Black lives". The Washington Post.
- "Timeline: The Black Lives Matter movement". ABC News. July 14, 2016. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
- "Black Lives Matter". University of Berkeley: Move On.
- Cheng, William. "Black Noise, White Ears: Resilience, Rap, and the Killing of Jordan Davis" (PDF). Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.
- "Mother of Jordan Davis Speaks Out: "His Death Doesn't Overshadow His Life" at Democratic Convention". The Hollywood Reporter. July 26, 2016. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
- "Sundance Institute – Award Winners". sundance.org. 2015. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
- Peter Sciretta (February 26, 2015). "Movies Sold at Sundance 2015: A Complete & Updated Guide". /Film. Archived from the original on March 23, 2015. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
- "The armor of light". THE ARMOR OF LIGHT. Retrieved October 21, 2015.