Officer: Martin Target Was “No-Shoot Training Aid”

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 14 2013 2:02 PM

Fired Officer: Trayvon Martin Target Was Intended as a “No-Shoot Training Aid”

The Florida police officer and firearms instructor who has sparked outrage after word got out that he brought a target resembling Trayvon Martin to a gun range, insists he never told anyone to shoot the target. In a video posted on YouTube, Sgt. Ron King apologized to the Martin family but insisted the target can be a valuable training tool. Port Canaveral Interim Chief Executive Officer John Walsh told local television Friday that King had been fired. According to Walsh, King was leading a target practice when he pulled out the targets that resembled Martin—featuring a faceless silhouette of a person in a hoodie holding a drink and a pack of Skittles—on April 4, reports the Associated Press.

"Port Canaveral Police Department considers that behavior unacceptable," Walsh said, according to CNN.

Yet King insists he never suggested anyone shoot at the target, noting he thought it could be used as an example of a situation in which a gun should not be fired. "Using real-life situations as a training scenario is not uncommon," King said, adding that he saw the Martin target as a “tool for scenario-based firearms training.” King insists he’s being used as part of a political agenda in an effort to damage the leadership of the police department.

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The attorney for the Martin family condemned the use of 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," Ben Crump said in a statement.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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