Target practice with Trayvon Martin

Hiller Armament Company
Hiller Armament Company

We have known for a long time that “Trayvon Martin brings out the worst in people.” That he inspires “rabid” hate in so many others. And that folks like to play “Games” with his image. But Ron King defied decency. The Port Canaveral police sergeant showed up at a firearms training session on April 4 with two targets that resembled Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., last year. King offered the target to two fellow officers, who declined the offer and promptly reported him to the police chief. “Whether his act was hatred or stupidity, neither is tolerable,” John Walsh, chief executive of Port Canaveral, told WFTV in Orlando. King was fired on Friday. But he’s not going quietly.

In a video posted Saturday on YouTube, King said he had become the “focus of media attention based on lies, false information and political agendas.” This was after he apologized to the Martin family for “being used as a pawn in somebody’s political agenda.” He said it is “a complete fabrication” that he offered the target to others to shoot. He said it was used as a “no-shoot training aid.” Yet King’s claims of pure intent are ridiculous.

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 its hands in its pockets, one of which was holding two objects. These objects in the hand were non-threatening and the target was something I viewed as a no-shoot situation. While others have used it as a novelty, I used it as a tool for scenario-based firearms training. Although the targets haven’t been used, I did possess those targets for training reasons.

King neglects to show viewers the target. He also neglects to tell them that the two “non-threatening” objects in the silhouetted target’s hands were Skittles and an iced tea. To do that would reveal him to be unbelievably callous since those are the items that were found on the unarmed dead teen. He also never explains why he has a “no-shoot training aid” at a shooting range. And while King may have viewed the targets as innocuous, that wasn’t the intent of the creator of the loathsome target.

“My main motivation was to make money off the controversy,” the unidentified maker of the target told Mike DeForest of WKMG in Orlando when the targets first appeared last May. On the Web site where the targets were then sold, DeForest reported, “According to an advertisement for the targets that had been posted on a popular firearms auction website, the sellers stated they support Zimmerman and believe he is innocent and that he shot a thug.”

The target was made and sold by Hiller Armament Co. The Web site for this Virginia Beach company is nowhere to be found today. But if you want a feel for the clientele this noxious product attracted, just read the chilling comments from last year at this gun-enthusiast blog.

“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,” Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump said in a statement reacting to King’s firing. “Such a deliberate and depraved indifference to this grieving family is unacceptable.” Unfortunately, such depraved indifference is something to which Trayvon Martin’s family has grown accustomed.

Follow Jonathan Capehart on Twitter.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.
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