Race and Gun Violence in the Media; Are We Getting the Whole Picture?

by Jeremy Griffith

Does political correctness in the media taint our perception of race, crime and incidents of self defense with guns? In view of the recent Trayvon Martin story, columnist Michael Filozof of the American Thinker explores these issues in his article, “What if Trayvon Martin had been white, and the shooter black?”

The Christopher Cervini murder investigation presents such a scenario. It shares many details similar to that of Trayvon Martin, only in reverse. Cervini, a 17-year old white teen and his friends were meandering through a Greece N.Y. neighborhood on a cold day in 2009. They had been drinking gin and rifling through cars looking for loose change and cigarettes when they were confronted by Roderick Scott, a black man, who shot Cervini twice, killing him.

In both the Martin and Cervini cases, there was a 911 call before the shooting. In the Cervini case an argument can be made that the boys were committing a crime, albeit a minor one. No such assertion can be made for Martin.

Scott was originally charged with murder, but the charge was downgraded to manslaughter and at the end of the trial he was acquitted by the jury. The jury apparently decided that Scott was justified in his self defense claim.

In a discussion on Internet radio, host Kira Davis and blogger Talitha McEachin interview the Cervini family, (see discussion beginning around 17:30 of the program). While they admit the boys were going through cars in the neighborhood, the family asserts that Christopher was never in any trouble with the law before his death and didn’t deserve to die. The family claims that Scott had no right of self defense,  that he was never in any danger, and their son would still be alive if Scott had remained in his home. The family further asserts that their son’s case was grossly mishandled and largely ignored by the media.

Update: Cervini family interview with Kira Davis and Talitha McEachin. Video adaptation by Jeremy Griffith

The role of the media in covering these two stories is a subject of debate. Davis and Filozof agree that media chooses to ignore the Cervini story because it doesn’t fit with the narrative of a black youth as a victim. African American columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson  believes the media hasn’t done enough to expose the victimization and racial profiling of a young black male at the hands of a white vigilante and says there is a concerted effort to trash the victim and protect a murderer.

It will be interesting to see how the discussion is shaped in the future in regards to race, self defense and the media’s role in coverage of interracial violence.



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5 thoughts on “Race and Gun Violence in the Media; Are We Getting the Whole Picture?

  1. The murder of Christopher occurred April 4th 2009. Christopher opened one unlocked car door and than closed it. This happened away from the property Scott had been residing at. There was no damage of, or theft of anyone’s property! Scott left the property that he was staying at with his gun cocked and a bullet in the chamber. He traveled a substantial distance to where Christopher was.He fired the gun hitting Christopher in the back and than once in the left hand and chest as he was falling. This is explained clearly in the coroners report. The ballistic expert noted that Christopher was never as close as 6 feet to the barrel of the gun. He based this on the type of gun and resin that was not found on Christopher. The scientific evidence and bullets path clearly showed that Scott was never in any threat of his life. The eye witness stated that the gun was fired while Christopher was at the top of the drive way, and that Christopher was not facing the direction of Scott when the gun went off. Scott was at least 20 to 50 feet away from Christopher when he fired the gun. This can be shown in a description made by the police. Scott was never checked for alcohol or drugs. Christopher had no weapon and was defenseless. This is only a small piece of the story.

  2. In both cases..Christopher Cervini and Trayvon Martin are pursued by men that chose to take the laws into their own hands. This is clearly a case of Vigilante Justice! Assuming, suspecting, believing..that they have a right to follow, detain, shoot and kill and call it self-defense. Having a legal gun permit does not give anyone the right to do this..it is against the law! In the Cervini case, Roderick Scott was 42yrs old at the time of the shooting weighed 240lbs, height 6’1, target shoots, gun holder for 25yrs, hunts, enters gun competitions ,has training in three marshal arts. Christopher Cervini just turned 17yrs old, height 5’9, weighed 160lbs,has never owned or fired a gun, never arrested or kicked out of school, does not have any marshal arts training, does not have a permit to drive. Evidence left out of the case..CD of Scotts interview and statements made to police, 911 calls, log sheets of calls placed to the 911 dispatcher,jacket Christopher wore/8 bullet holes to his jacket,time line less than 60 seconds shot and killed,lead investigators not called in to testify(fatal shot ) enters right side of back upward trajectory (link) bullet continues to go through his body and exit his left side of chest into the neighbors house where Scott could have killed other people,Coroners report denied to jury, gun law denied to the jury, pictures of Chris that were to graphic denied, CD of Scotts phone calls made two days after incarceration to his other girl friend. Scott was allowed to approach the (WELL) with the Attorneys during trial..this was subliminal messages sent to the jury that Scott must be important and did he in fact commit a crime. THE CERVINI case was a GROSS MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE!! Christopher died a horrible death at the hands of Roderick Scott. Scott left him to die and bleed to death alone. Roderick Scott got away with MURDER! It is not coincidental that all of this evidence was left out of our case..the DA’s office treated Scott with kit gloves and protected him. The Judge was falling asleep in the court room and allowed the Defense Attorney to make up his own version of events and allowed the Defense Attorney to be in contempt of court never setting a balance in the court. The Cervini case should be open for an investigation! Thank you

      • Thank you, Jeremy for writing this article and taking an interest in our case. We appreciate any coverage that we can get. People should know what happens in the Judicial system and how victims are trashed and Murderers protected. Victims do not have a voice in the system and if they are children..they don’t hold any value because they are not bread winners. We could tell you so much more about our case that most people do not know. For one, The police department and the Town of Greece were under investigation at the time Christopher was shot and killed.There were many conflicts of interest in our case. The Defense Attorney was representing both Scott and the Chief of police whom is now in jail. Sandra Dorley a lead prosecutor was originally on our case was pulled off and replaced with ADA Julie Finnochio whom has never tried a murder case. The Judge was good friends with the Defense Attorney from way back and they made up over the weekend stated in transcript during the trial. There were several police officers under investigation at our crime scene including Chief Rahn and officer Ball that did some of the investigation of Christopher’s case and his work was redone by another police officer. Officer Balls reports are still missing. Chief Rahns reports if any are missing. In fact Chief Rahn, officer Ball and the Defense Attorney for Scott were Accused of covering up a murder case in the town of Greece, these accusations are made by Sandra Doorley. We have a copy of this document. Lead investigators were not called in to testify in our case because the Defense Attorney would have discredited them and the Prosecutors could not use them in the Rahn trial. We know for a fact that Christopher was Murdered because Science does not lie. This was a Kangaroo court and Scott walked free without even a slap on his hand and living right back in our neighborhood with his guns. There needs to be accountability and an investigation into our case. Thank you..

  3. Thank you Jeremy.
    Vigilantism needs to come to an end! I never want to see this happen to any one. The laws concerning self-defense need to be looked at closer especially when jurors can be convinced to ignore them. How does this happen? Defense attorneys can twist the laws during a trial in such away that the law becomes irrelevant. They can focus the entire case against the dead victim and the witnesses. The victim cannot be seen or heard by the jurors. The jurors can only see and hear the story of the murderer.
    If a judge does not particularly care about the law , does not understand the law, or is unwilling to have the jurors hear the law, this can become a major problem, especially since they (Judge) have complete immunity. In our story, when the ADA asked the judge if she could read the law to the jurors, the judge denied it. Does this make sense? I believe it was the judges responsibility to make sure the jurors were following the law or at least helping them to understand it. There is something extremely wrong with the judicial system when there is so much solid evidence, and there is not a conviction.

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