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Police Sergeant Says Trayvon Martin Shooting Targets Were A Training Aid

Photo caption:

Photo by NPR

An image taken from fired police sergeant Ron King's video statement, in which he defends himself for bringing silhouette targets resembling the hoody-wearing image of Trayvon Martin.

A police sergeant in Port Canaveral, Fla., has been fired after he brought targets bearing images resembling Trayvon Martin -- a silhouetted figure in a hooded sweatshirt, holding a canned drink -- to a police target practice session.

"Whether his act was hatred or stupidity, none is tolerable," Port Canaveral CEO John Walsh says of former officer Ron King, in a report by local station WFTV.

Located along Florida's central coast east of Orlando, Port Canaveral is about an hour's drive from Sanford, Fla., where Martin, 17, was shot and killed last February.

King, who was fired on Friday, apologized for the April 2 shooting range incident in a video statement he released late Saturday. King blames his firing on politics within the police department, and he says the silhouette targets were meant to serve as a "no-shoot training aid," to help officers make decisions on when to fire their weapon.

Addressing the Martin family, King said, "I assure you that the use of these targets that are in question is to prevent a tragedy from taking place."

The targets were reportedly not used at the firing range.

When a company announced last May that it was producing silhouette firing-range targets based on Martin's appearance, it brought outrage both from the Martin family's attorney and from gun enthusiasts, as WKMG TV reported. But the company also said it sold out of its first production run of the targets in two days.

The trial of George Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in Martin's death, is set to begin in June. You can review NPR's coverage of the case in our archive.

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