Trayvon Martin range targets, remember those?
They depict a faceless, hooded figure holding a bag of Skittles candy and a bottle of iced tea — items the slain 17-year-old was carrying on the night he was shot dead by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, in a controversial encounter in February 2012. That incident rocked the country and launched a national debate on self-defense rights and Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws.
Well, those targets cost a Port Authority police officer in Port Canaveral, Florida, his job.
Sgt. Ron King was fired last Thursday following a complaint filed by two fellow officers who saw King at the range with the shooting targets. King wanted to use them for a training exercise on April 4, but they told the sergeant “they didn’t think it was appropriate.”
Internal affairs investigated the matter and then CEO Port Canaveral Port Authority CEO John Walsh made the decision to cut him loose.
“Whether it was his stupidity or his hatred, [this is] not acceptable,” Walsh told local reporters.
However, now King is fighting back, saying that he was unfairly targeted (forgive the pun) as part of larger conspiracy. In a YouTube video King tells his side of the story and offers an apology to the Martin family.
“I would like to start my statement by first apologizing to the family of Trayvon Martin for being used as a pawn in somebody’s political agenda,” said King.
King alleged that officer who reported him to internal affairs was actually trying to smear the chief of the department.
“I cannot help but think that he is using this in order to try to shed bad light on the chief in an effort to further that agenda,” explained King.
As for why he purchased the Trayvon targets in the first place, King who is a licensed firearms instructor said they are helpful as a ‘no-shoot training aid.’
“As a result of last year’s Trayvon Martin shooting, a company offered for sale a target of a faceless silhouette wearing a hoodie with his hands in his pockets, one of which was holding two objects, these objects in the hand were non-threatening and the target was something that I viewed as a no-shoot situation,” said King.
“While others used it as a novelty, I view it as a tool for scenario based firearms training. Although to date, the targets have never been used, I did possess the targets for those training reasons,” he continued.
Walsh, according to USA Today, was not buying King’s explanation.
“I found the entire situation unacceptable,” said Walsh. “It is not the type of behavior that I want a police officer to have on both a personal and professional level.”
Community activist and attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents Martin’s parents, was also displeased with King’s choice to use the targets.
“It is absolutely reprehensible that a high-ranking member of the Port Canaveral Police, sworn to protect and serve Floridians, would use the image of a dead child as target practice,” Crump said. “Such a deliberate and depraved indifference to this grieving family is unacceptable. The citizens of Port Canaveral deserve better.”
Meanwhile, George Zimmerman’s trial is expected to begin in June. Zimmerman is facing second-degree murder charges.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe King? Were his intentions really that pure? Even if they weren’t, does he still deserve to lose his job?