“Maybe he would’ve killed somebody had it not been for me,” Michael Dunn.
Three years ago, Jordan Davis and his friends stopped at a Jacksonville convenience store to purchase gum. The mission for the evening was to meet girls, and fowl breath would obviously dampen their chances. After leaving his son’s wedding, Michael Dunn and his fiancee Rhonda Rouer also stopped at the convenience store to purchase wine before getting back to their puppy, Charlie.
Like most 17 year olds, the music inside Davis’ friend’s Dodge Durango was loud, so loud customers inside the store could here it, and the bass made both Dunn’s car and the car Jordan was in shake.
Dunn, who in court testimony, referred to the music as “rap crap” asked Davis’ friend, Tevin Thompson to turn it down. Thomspon obliged, but Davis objected, demanding his friend turn it back up. A confrontation ensued between the two and before Rouer finished paying for the wine, Dunn fired 10 rounds killing Jordan.
“He said ‘I hate that thug music,'” said Rhona Rouer.
Directed by Marc Silver, 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets explores the seconds it took to kill 17-year-old Jordan Davis, and the two trials needed to convict his killer. Journalists attended a preview screening of the nearly two-hour documentary at Harlem’s famed Schomburg center, followed by a panel discussion featuring Jordan’s parents and hosted by University of Connecticut professor Jelani Cobb.
During the film, which premiers on the three year anniversary of Jordan’s death, viewers experience Ron Davis and Lucy McBath’s unspeakable–but all too common–tragedy through courtroom footage, recorded jailhouse phone calls, one-on-one interviews with those closest to Jordan, and clips from Dunn’s police interrogation.
And while McBath and Davis were a source of strength for each other, Davis said he also obtained comfort from a familiar stranger.
“I received a text from Trayvon Martin’s dad, and he said ‘I just want to welcome you to a club that none of us want to be in,’ “Davis declared. In an interview with VIBE, Davis expressed that he begrudgingly extended that same welcome to Mike Brown Senior. Davis implored Mike Brown Senior to find his voice, and to try his best to not let the media paint his son as the victim and the perpetrator.
“Michael Dunn had every right to not be a victim,” Cory Strolla, Michael Dunn’s lawyer.
Dunn claimed he acted in self-defense and pleaded not guilty to all charges brought against him. Throughout the film, viewers will see Dunn maintained a straight-face and showed no remorse, save for the time he blew Rouer a kiss when she was testifying. Yet despite both Davis and Dunn being on opposite sides of the courtroom, Davis says Dunn, nor his family offered condolences.
“To this day, I don’t think he understood or valued Jordan’s life. He never said ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ or through his attorney say ‘I’m sorry for killing Jordan’ he said it was a 100% Jordan’s fault,” Davis said.
At the close of the trial, Dunn was sentenced to 90 years in prison after being found guilty of three counts of attempted murder. However, it took a second trial to return a guilty verdict on a first- degree murder charge, which carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
3 1/2 minutes is a boulder of racial profiling, entitlement and gun violence that leaves you pensive long after the credits roll. The tears are familiar, the death of a black boy at the hands of a white man is familiar, and the community of parents who experienced it before grows larger as it welcomes its newest inductee.
You realize Jordan has his mother’s smile, and your heart shatters when you see side-by-side images of Trayvon Martin and Jordan wearing a hoodie flash across the screen. “We kind of look alike, dad” Davis recalls Jordan saying to him after the Zimmerman verdict.
Unlike the trigger men of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and the others, Dunn was sentenced to life in prison, but that doesn’t stop Davis from still being a father to his son.
“Whenever I have panels, usually when I come home, the first thing I do is go in Jordan’s room, and I say ‘Jordan, we’re taking care of you. We’re still your parents, even in death.”
3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets Airs on HBO Tonight at 9PM EST