Florida's "Stand Your Ground" laws clear gunman in parking lot shooting that killed a young father
A man who was captured on surveillance video fatally shooting another man in Florida, during a parking-spot spat will not be arrested due to a Florida law.
Law enforcement authorities reported that the motorist who shot and killed a man after being slammed to the ground during a heated altercation over a handicapped parking space will most likely not be charged. 47-year-old Michael Drejka has been cleared by authorities in the shooting of 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton in Clearwater, Florida. On Thursday, an argument between the two over proper parking etiquette took an ugly turn.
At a recorded press conference on Friday, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the shooting "is within the bookends of stand your ground and within the bookends of force being justified". "I'm not saying I agree with it, but I don't make that call," the sheriff added.
25-year-old Britany Jacobs, McGlockton's girlfriend, was driving a 2016 Chrysler 2000 with her boyfriend when she pulled into the parking lot of the Circle-A Food Store at 3.27pm, according to the surveillance footage released by authorities.
Although there were several spaces free in the parking lot, Jacobs was seen parking in a handicapped spot on the side of the building for convenience. The footage shows McGlockton and his five-year-old son exit the vehicle while Jacobs waits in the driver's seat. The father and son duo are then seen walking into the convenience store.
Just moments later, a Toyota 4-Runner pulls up nearby and Drejka exits the vehicle. He notices that Jacobs has parked in the handicapped spot without having a placard on her vehicle. Drejka is then seen scolding the driver of the vehicle while pointing towards other empty spaces in the lot. According to authorities, while the confrontation did get heated, there were no threats involved.
As the argument escalated, a witnessed entered the store and alerted the clerk that there was some disturbance outside.
McGlockton is then seen rushing outside and confronting Drejka directly, subsequently hurling him to the ground. In a sudden move, Drejka pulls out a handgun and fires McGlockton in the chest, just seconds after being shoved to the ground.
According to authorities, the pair did not exchange any words throughout the incident. After being shot, McGlockton is seen stumbling towards the store where his son was waiting for him. Unfortunately, he was pronounced dead at an area hospital later.
The shooter, who has a valid concealed carry permit, waited at the scene until cops arrived, placing the gun inside his vehicle until then. He was reportedly open about what happened and cooperated with investigators. "Several witnesses called 911 as the incident unfolded. When deputies arrived, Drejka was cooperative with them. Drejka told deputies he placed his firearm in his Toyota 4-Runner prior to their arrival," police said.
However, when law enforcement elected not to bring charges against Drejka, Jacobs was devastated."It's a wrongful death. It's messed up. Markeis is is a good man … He was just protecting us, you know?" she told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday. "And it hurts so bad."
For those confused, this is Florida's self-defense law "stand your ground" in action. It authorizes deadly force in self-defense "with no duty to retreat from an attacker". The law has previously stirred controversy when it was invoked in the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
That said, Sheriff Gualtieri said Drejka acted out of fear for his own safety, or at least appeared to, and did so completely within the bounds of the law. "I'm a firm believer in the adage just because you can doesn't mean you should," Gualtieri said. "But I'll also say this, I'm also not going to substitute my judgment for Drejka's judgment sitting on that ground, after having been slammed to the ground. He made a decision. So it really doesn't matter what I would have done or what anybody else would have done... he's just a citizen, and he felt he had to defend himself."
"According to witnesses, McGlockton exited the store and walked over to Drejka who was still arguing with Jacobs in the parking lot. Witnesses say McGlockton forcibly pushed Drejka causing him to fall to the ground. "Witnesses told detectives that Drejka was on the ground when he took out a handgun and fired one single round at McGlockton striking him in the chest," police said in a statement.
The sheriff announced the case will be sent to the state attorney's office for a final determination.
"This will go to the state attorney. Drejka will not be charged [and] will not be arrested by us," Sheriff Gualtieri said. "The state attorney will review it and either he’ll concur or not. And, if he concurs, then there’ll be no charge. Period.
"If he doesn’t concur, then he’ll make a determination as to what to do with it. And, if he feels like he can overcome that heavy burden at a Stand Your Ground hearing of proving by clear and convincing evidence that Drejka was not entitled to use force in this circumstance, then that’s the state attorney’s determination to make."