Jonathan Martin has been called to trial on felony charges in connection to a threatening Instagram post on Feb. 22, 2018. The post read, “When you’re a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge.” The text was superimposed next to a shotgun and ammunition, and hashtags for Harvard-Westlake school and the Miami Dolphins. Martin, a 2008 HW graduate, tagged high school classmates James Dunleavy ’07 and TJ Taylor ’07, as well as former Dolphins teammates Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey. Dunleavy is the brother of retired NBA player Mike Dunleavy Jr. and played basketball for the USC Trojans
All four tagged people have bullied Martin in the past, with the brunt of it coming during his professional football career. An NFL report detailed threats by Incognito and Pouncey calling him anti-gay slurs, a c*** and p***y, threatening to have sexual intercourse with his sister, and saying he was dead in their eyes for sharing details of the toxic locker room environment in 2013. Texts between Incognito and Pouncey talked of weapons “perfect for shooting black people,” and how “snitches get stitches blood in blood out,” in reference to Martin. The players’ verbal and sometimes even physical assailing of Martin expanded to two other Dolphins players, and a staff member. Despite this, Incognito earned a share of his team’s “good guy” award in 2012. The repetitive bullying led Martin to experience suicidal thoughts and check himself into a hospital. In a 2013 message to his mom, he voiced that his depression “is debilitating & keeps me from reaching my potential in all facets of life.” He cited that the discomfort of being “one of just a few minorities in elite private schools” contributed to an inability to defend himself.
Eighteen bullets were visible in Martin’s post, raising concerns about the potential of a school shooting just nine days after the tragic events at Stoneman Douglas High School. Harvard-Westlake closed both the upper and lower campuses after seeing the post, with any students already on campus being directed to safe spaces. Head of School Rick Commons assured students and faculty that, “The safety of our community is always our top priority” in a school-wide email the day of the event. Additional security personnel and measures were implemented in the weeks following the school’s closure.
A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge said the social media post was significant enough to warrant a trial on three felony counts, and one count of possessing a loaded firearm. Martin’s lawyer stated that there was no intention of violence, but The New York Daily Mail reported that Martin looked up Richie Incognito’s name on his computer just hours before ordering a shotgun online. Martin is currently free on $210,000 bail and will return to court on Jan. 30.