Trevor Dooley, a black man in Tampa was found guilty of manslaughter for shooting his white neighbor, David James, in front of the victim's 8-year-old daughter. The jury rejected the notion that the 71-year-old was using self-defense when he killed James, after what started as a verbal argument over a skateboarder. “The whole silly ting was over a skateboard…and it just escalated,” said juror Walter Joss.
Jurors took roughly 90 minutes to come back with a guilty verdict, reaching the conclusion that Dooley shot the 41-year-old over “nothing.”
The fatal altercation occurred in 2010, after James permitted a teen to skateboard near to come on an area of the basketball court where he and his daughter were shooting hoops. Dooley argued with James, before pulling up his T-shirt to reveal his weaponry.
James stood at 6-foot-1, and weighed 240 pounds, far greater than Dooley who is 5-foot-7 and weighs 160 pounds. He claims to have used the gun as a safety precaution.
According to witness testimony, including from the skateboarder, and the victim's young daughter, Dooley turned to walk away after showing the gun. James spun Dooley around, and made a grab for the firearm. The two wrestled on the ground before the shooting occurred.
Dooley, a school bus driver from Jamaica, told reporters that racism played a role in the conviction. “Do you really think that if it was the other way around and the skin color would be different, we would be here today?...We wouldn't.”
His wife of 40 years collapsed after the verdict was read.
Currently free on bail, Dooley faces up to 30 years behind bars and will be sentenced on Jan. 10.
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Photo: Tampa Bay Times