ORLANDO≠ — A Florida police officer fired over his use of shooting targets with an image resembling slain teenager Trayvon Martin is defending himself on YouTube, saying the target was intended as a “no shoot” training aid for an instructional session.
Former Port Canaveral police officer Ron King said in a video on YouTube this weekend that the targets, which appear to depict Martin the night he was killed, were meant to prevent such tragedies in the future.
“I can tell you that using real life situations as a training scenario is not uncommon … They are in fact what teach us to respond to incidents in the future,” King said.
“The only stupid act I performed was to believe that some of my co-workers would be mature enough and care enough to use a bad situation as a learning tool,” he added.
King confirmed to ABCnews.com that he was the man in the YouTube video. He could not immediately be reached by Reuters.
King, who described himself as a 25-year law enforcement officer and a longtime firearms instructor, was fired on Friday after bringing the targets to the Brevard Community College shooting range in Cocoa, Florida, in early April while on duty.
He described the targets as a silhouette of a faceless person wearing a hoodie with his hands in his pockets and holding two non-threatening items. He compared their use to other realistic training sessions depicting bank robberies, traffic stops and school shootings.
Martin, a black 17-year-old, was wearing a hoodie when he was shot in February 2012 by a neighbourhood watch captain in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. In Martin’s pockets were a can of tea and a bag of candy, which he bought at a neighbourhood convenience store.
The then-watch captain, George Zimmerman, is set to stand trial on a second-degree murder charge on June 10. The killing drew national attention and accusations of racism after the police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman. (Reuters)