A Florida police officer has reportedly lost his job after being accused of using targets resembling slain teenager Trayvon Martin at a gun range.
Details of the disturbing story surfaced online over the weekend.
Port Canaveral Interim Chief Executive Officer John Walsh told WFTV on Saturday that Sgt. Ron King was leading a target practice with two other Port Canaveral police officers and a civilian port employee when he pulled out the targets April 4. Walsh says King asked the group if they wanted to use the targets and they said no, telling King to put them back into his patrol car. Port Canaveral is about 50 miles southeast of Sanford, where the 17-year-old Martin was killed in 2012 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense. His trial is set for June. Port Canaveral is about 50 miles southeast of Sanford, where the 17-year-old Martin was killed in 2012 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. (Huffington Post)
Back in May, similar controversy spread after Martin targets were announced.
When a company announced last May that it was producing silhouette firing-range targets based on Martin’s appearance, it brought outrage both from the Martin family’s attorney and from gun enthusiasts, as WKMG TV reported. But the company also said it sold out of its first production run of the targets in two days. The trial of George Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in Martin’s death, is set to begin in June. You can review NPR’s coverage of the case in our archive. (NPR)
Law enforcement officials and a Martin family spokesperson have since come forward.
Port Canaveral Sgt. Ron King was terminated from the police department on Friday, according to Interim Chief Executive Officer John Walsh. “Whether his act was hatred or stupidity, none is tolerable,” Mr. Walsh told WFTV. “He had a target in the back of his car and offered it to two other officers with the port.” It’s undetermined if any of the targets were actually used. Mr. Walsh told reporters the sergeant purchased the targets on the Internet. “Using a dead child’s image as target practice is reprehensible,” Benjamin L. Crump, an attorney for the Martin family, said in a statement. (Washington Times)
Former police officer Ron King has released a video defending the targets.
In the YouTube video, King said he had no intention of using the targets for target practice, instead, he said he viewed the targets as a training tool for “a no-shoot situation.” “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,” he said. “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 said. (ABC News)
Check out Ron King’s response: