JORDAN DAVIS was shot to death in 2012, while sitting in his friend's car on the day after Thanksgiving. He was 17 and black. His killer, Michael Dunn, was 45 and white. While it was never disputed that Dunn fired the shots that took the teenager's life, it happened in Florida, the land of stand-your-ground laws—where "perceived threat" is a legitimate reason to engage.
Murders of black men and children have been covered more and more in recent years, but never have we had such personal exposure to both the anguish of the families and the showy, depressing criminal justice system as in the new documentary 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets.
The filmmakers let Davis' friends and family tell most of the story, but also pull from taped police interviews and Dunn's trial. The question throughout is if Dunn's "perceived threat" was sufficient to give him a pass on murder.
And to director Marc Silver's credit, 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets doesn't go out of its way to demonize Dunn. His friends and family members don't give any interviews in the film (and it's unclear if they were asked to participate), but we do get to see them testify at the trial, and their words humanize Dunn. We also get to see Dunn speak, both at his trial and in police interviews, where he's astonished to find himself "in deep shit" for killing a child. He is clueless about how racist he is. You could almost feel bad for him, until you remember what he did.
Cases like this are all too common—and as an unfortunate result, they can blend into each another in our collective memory. But keep watching the film through the credits, which feature childhood photos of Davis. Remind yourself that at the time he died, he was only a few years older than that grinning little kid. Then recommend this film to everybody. Jordan Davis will not be forgotten.