Sergeant fired for using Trayvon Martin-like shooting targets

8:23 PM, Apr 14, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- A Florida police sergeant's actions are the target of controversy for allegedly possessing shooting targets that resemble Trayvon Martin.

Ron King showed a class of student police officers the shooting targets -- a silhouette of a person wearing a hoodie, holding a drink in its hand, and carrying a bag of Skittles in its pocket.

They are the same items that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin wore and carried when he was shot and killed last year by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman claims the shooting was in self-defense. He is set to stand trial in June.

"While others view [the target] as a novelty, I view it as a tool for scenario based firearms training," said King, who defended his actions in a video posted on YouTube.

King, a member of the Port Canaveral Police Department since 2011, said the targets were meant only as a teaching tool.

"I'm the focus of some recent media attention based on lies, false information, and political agendas," he continued in the video.

King was fired a couple of days after a fellow officer filed a complaint with internal affairs.

"Whether it was his own stupidity or his hatred, we don't know. However, on any level, is it not acceptable," said King's Boss, John Walsh, CEO of the Port Canaveral Port Authority.

The Martin family has released a statement following the investigation into King and his eventual dismissal from the Port Canaveral Police Department.

"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," wrote Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump.

"These objects in the hand were non-threatening, and the target was something I viewed as an example of a no-shoot situation," said King.

But not everyone agrees with using such a polarizing figure as shooting practice.

"The targets are caricatures, almost cartoons, if even that. A lot of the time, I'm using basic NRA bull's-eye targets," said Mike Sfakianos, a firearms trainer at Bill Jackson's.

Still, it appears King it sticking to his defense, but also apologizing to the Martin family, claiming they are pawns in a political game.

"To the Martin family, I would like to apologize again for those law enforcement officials that chose to use your son's death as an element for their personal and political gains," he said.

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