Florida Police Sergeant Ron King Fired for Bringing Trayvon Martin Shooting Targets to Training Session
A Florida police sergeant has been fired after an incident in which he brought Trayvon Martin shooting targets to a firearms training session.
WFTV reports that Port Canaveral Sgt. Ron King was terminated from the department on Friday following the April 4 incident, which took place at a facility at the Brevard Community College Cocoa campus. Port Canaveral is only about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Sanford, where Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, was shot dead by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman while visiting his father in a gated community last February.
Sgt. King was supervising a firearms training session when he brought out two shooting targets modeled on Martin. He asked if anyone wanted to use the targets; according to Port Canaveral CEO John Walsh, other officers told him ‘no’ and asked him to put the targets back in his patrol vehicle.
“Whether his act was hatred or stupidity, none is tolerable,” Walsh told reporters. “We are offended by this. We are outraged that one of our officers would have this conduct. It is not tolerable. It is not acceptable.”
“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,” Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Martin’s family, said in a statement.
News 4 Jacksonville reports that King had been with the Port Canaveral police for two years. He was a 22-year-veteran of the Melbourne Police Department before that. King also owns a company offering firearms training and personal safety coaching.
Port officials said King purchased the targets online. Last year, the same shooting targets modeled on Martin– a faceless figure in a hooded sweatshirt but carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea like the slain teen did– sold out within two days of being offered for sale online.
UPDATE: Ron King has issued a video statement in which he apologized to Trayvon Martin’s family, not for any pain he may have caused them but rather for “being used as a pawn in somebody’s political agenda.” In the video, King defended his use of the Trayvon targets, claiming they would help teach officers learn when not to shoot someone. Addressing the dead child’s parents, King asserted that “the use of these targets that are in question is to prevent a tragedy from taking place.”
“I have here copies of the statements made by the complaining party and a witness,” King said in his video statement while holding up multiple documents, “both of whom stating I referred to them (the targets) as a no-shoot training aid.”
King claims he is the victim of “lies, false information and political agendas.”
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