Everyone in the country has heard of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, but few know the name of Trevor Dooley--a central Florida man who shot and killed a neighbor, David "DJ" James, and is defending himself using Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
The James case has a number of similarities with the Martin case, but has not been the subject of the mainstream media meltdown nor the focus of cries of racism, even though the shooter and the victim were both of different races (Dooley is black, and James was white).
Critics of the authorities' handling of the Martin case will doubtless point out that Dooley was, in fact, arrested and charged in his shooting case. As a diarist on liberal website Daily Kos said in a piece on the Dooley shooting written before Zimmerman was charged:
Now we see what happens when a Black Man kills a White Man then asserts "Self Defense". He has to prove it. Other people in the opposite situation, not so much.
That argument ignores a couple of important facts about the Zimmerman and Dooley cases. Like Zimmerman, Dooley was initially released by the police. As an article in the Tampa Bay Times explains:
Trevor Dooley walked out of his suburban house Sunday afternoon, past his trimmed lawn and nice landscaping, to confront a boy riding a skateboard on the basketball court across the street. That's against the rules in this neighborhood, and Dooley, 69, was carrying a gun.
David James, 41, with 20 years in the Air Force, was playing basketball with his 8-year-old daughter. They played every Sunday.
James stood up for the skateboarder, neighbors said. The men argued and got into a "physical confrontation," the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. Then, in front of his daughter, James was shot dead.
What authorities don't know is who pulled the trigger, or whether it was justified.
The Sheriff's Office has not named Dooley as a suspect or charged him with a crime. When police arrived around 4 p.m., he was waiting with the dead man. He invoked his right to remain silent and called his lawyer.
"We haven't named him yet as a suspect. I'm not going to say he's not," said sheriff's Col. Albert Frost. "We have various witnesses and various conflicting statements at this point to start with. Obviously, that doesn't help us. We're trying to sort out the facts and trying to determine what really happened."
So Dooley went back to work Monday morning, driving a school bus loaded with kids.
This did not result in demonstrations or national media coverage. Joe Biden did not step out into the Rose Garden of the White House and say that David James looked like the son Biden could have had. Instead, a local crime played itself out locally.
Another major difference between Zimmerman and Dooley is hinted at in the Times article; Dooley steadfastly refused to cooperate or even speak with law enforcement, whereas George Zimmerman has been repeatedly described as being very cooperative with investigators.
Furthermore, it could be pointed out that Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder, whereas Mr. Dooley was charged with manslaughter. As the Tampa Bay Times points out in the Dooley case:
Legal experts say Dooley is charged with manslaughter in the death of David James because it appears the shooting was not premeditated (required for first-degree murder) or committed during commission of a felony, or with a depraved mind and ill intent or hatred (required for second-degree murder).
And they say prosecutors may have a hard time proving that.
"It all depends on what happened the minute that gun was shown and why the accused felt the need to pull the gun out," said Tampa lawyer Steve Romine.
Just last Friday, Dooley’s lawyers were in court making their case. According to this article in the Times:
Trevor Dooley's lawyers say it was an act of self-defense--pulling the trigger kept him alive.
David James was on top of him, hands around Dooley's neck. Dooley couldn't breathe. He tried to warn James by poking him in the leg twice with a handgun.
When it didn't work, Dooley fired.
Lawyers for Dooley, the man accused of killing his Valrico neighbor, submitted their argument Thursday in a motion asking a judge to dismiss the manslaughter charge against him.
Do the liberal critics of Stand Your Ground really want Trevor Dooley to go to jail that badly?
Related: website dedicated to the victim in the Dooley case: In memory of David "DJ" James