In all the outcry over the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was killed in Sanford last month by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, it's worth noting that this isn't the first time an unarmed black teen was shot by armed men who overreacted – and weren't immediately arrested for their actions.
July 16, 2005, 16-year-old Travares McGill was in a parked car with a group of friends in the parking lot of an apartment complex. According to news reports
, police reports and court records, two security guards – William Patrick Swofford and Bryan Ansley – shined a light into the car Travares and his friends were in, and the kids panicked. McGill, who was driving, backed up and then tried to speed away. The security guards were doing a routine patrol of the area but they never identified themselves to the teens. As McGill tried to drive away, he was shot in the back
. The guards said they opened fire because they thought they were in imminent danger – that McGill was at first driving toward them. Even though the car veered away from them, Swofford kept firing even after it was no longer headed in the guards' direction.
At first, no charges were filed against Swofford or Ansley by Sanford police. Turns out, Swofford was a volunteer with the Sanford police department and Ansley was the son of a former Sanford police officer. Ansley and Swofford were finally charged in November of that year – Swofford with manslaughter and both Swofford and Ansley with shooting into an occupied vehicle. The case went to trial
, but it was eventually dismissed by a judge who determined that it was a case of self-defense.
Ansley, by the way, was arrested two more times
after the shooting of McGill. In 2008 he was arrested for overstepping his boundaries and acting like a security guard even though his license was revoked; he said he didn't know his license was no longer good. He was arrested again in 2010 for impersonating a police officer.
The circumstances between the Martin case and the McGill case differ, but the resemblances and parallels are disturbingly obvious.