Despite a defense based on the state’s “Stand Your Ground” laws, a Florida gun owner, Michael Drejka, was found guilty of manslaughter Friday for shooting Markeis McGlockton outside a gas station in Clearwater.
The events unfolded on July 19,2018 as Drejka spotted a non-disabled male/female couple and their kids parked in a handicapped parking space.
Reportedly exasperated by what he saw, Drejka then confronted the woman, Britany Jacobs, as she sat in the car with two of the couple’s children. This occurred as McGlockton, was inside the gas station.
But when McGlockton exited the store and saw Drejka confronting Jacobs about the two having illegally parked in a disabled parking space, he rushed up to then-48-year-old man and hit him so hard that he collapsed to the ground. In response, Drejka pulled out his Glock and fired.
Watch surveillance footage of the altercation below. Drejka can be seen in the upper-left corner:
“He did what he thought he had to do, in the moment, in the split-second time, given that he was attacked,” Drejka’s attorney John Trevena said during closing arguments in his client’s week-long trial. “You may not agree with the law. But you took an oath as a juror to uphold the law.”
The “Stand Your Grand” laws in Florida explicitly state that “[a] person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
“A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.”
While Trevena’s argument appears to be legitimate, the case wound up being bogged down in racial politics because of the race of those involved. Even notorious race hustler Al Sharpton got involved.
“The shooting has been fraught with controversy from the beginning, touching on polarizing issues including gun rights, self-defense and race,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“Drejka is white. McGlockton was unarmed and black. The case drew comparisons to that of George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who won acquittal in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. That case spurred the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Zimmeran is a Hispanic man who fatally shot Martin, 17, after the teen physically assaulted him, forced him to the ground and began grounding and pounding his face:
It’s unclear whether the racial factors amplified by the media played any role in the jury’s decision Friday. What’s known is that the prosecution had cited Drejka’s demonstrable road rage temper as just one piece of evidence against him.
“Since 2012, according to records and interviews, 47-year-old Michael Drejka has been the accused aggressor in four incidents,” the Times noted. “Two involved allegations of Drejka showing a gun. In another, a trooper accused him of aggressive driving and cited him after a crash when Drejka braked hard in front of a woman driving with two children.”
The fourth case involved the same handicapped parking spot and another black man, Richard Kelly. During the trial this week, Kelly testified that after he illegally parked in the same handicapped parking space some time in the past, Drejka threatened to kill him.
“He said, ‘I should shoot you, kill you,'” he reportedly told jurors.
In interviews last year, he explained that he’d done so out of abject fear.
“What’s going through my mind is he’s coming after me again. I was thinking he’s going to finish what he started,” he reportedly said to detectives.
In the surveillance footage up top, McGlockton does appear to approach Drejka again after knocking him to the ground.
“I was very scared,” he added in a statement to local station WTSP-TV. “I’ve never been confronted like that or never been assaulted like that, if you will, ever. … It felt like I was tackled or someone hit me from behind with something. I left my feet and slid along the ground before I was able to- but, yes, I was stunned, yeah.”
He also said that he wouldn’t change anything if he could go back in time.
“I’ve had plenty of time to think about it, but as far as changing any of the events? I really, no, not off the top of my head,” he said. “I followed the law the way I thought the law was supposed to be followed.”
According to the Times, McGlockton’s family is pleased with the jury’s decision and is now awaiting Drejka’s upcoming sentencing hearing. He reportedly faces 30 years. Also pleased with the verdict are the prosecutors, who reportedly hugged McGlockton’s family after the trial’s conclusion.
“We’ve had to listen to that defense team talk down your son quite a bit now. No more,” local prosecutor Fred Schaub reportedly said to the family. “Now we’re going to have a sentencing. Y’all have a right to talk. Speak for your son.”
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