In the wake of the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton last week in Pinellas County, a coalition of activist groups are calling on Pinellas/Pasco County State
Attorney Bernie McCabe to file charges against the shooter, 47-year-old Michael
Drejka, who is white, shot and killed McGlockton, a 28-year-old African American man, outside a convenience store after a brief altercation the two had over McGlockton parking in a handicapped parking space last Thursday afternoon.
According to a video posted on You Tube, after McGlockton parked in the spot and entered the store, Drejka approached the car and began arguing with McGlockton’s girlfriend, who remained in the passenger seat. When he left the store, McGlockton confronted Drejka, pushing him violently to the ground. Drejka then pulled out a gun and shot and killed McGlockton.
According to local news accounts, Drejka informed Pinellas County Sheriffs that
he feared for his life, and invoked the 2005 controversial Stand Your Ground law.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that the existing law prevents him from
even arresting Drejka. That is infuriating parts of the community – and bringing
more criticism about the Stand Your Ground law from state Democrats.
“Where you have somebody that is unprovoked, slammed to the ground like
that…and his statement that he believed McGlockton was going to come back at
him, and he fired in a very short amount of time. Four seconds probably,
somewhere in that range,” Gaultieri said at a press conference last Friday. “That is
within the bookends of ‘Stand Your Ground.’ And within the bookends of force
“This was an unnecessary and avoidable death,”said Tampa House Democrat and
attorney general candidate Sean Shaw. “The Stand Your Ground law is making
our streets more dangerous and making it more difficult for law enforcement to
do their jobs. We should place trust back with those investigating and prosecuting
potential crimes rather than applying a blanket immunity standard that can be
too easily manipulated by violent criminals.”
Shaw says he wants the 2005 law repealed. It said that the defense had to prove
“by the preponderance of the evidence” that a shooter used his or her gun in self-
Ashley Moody, a former Hillsborough County Circuit Court judge and now GOP contender for attorney general, disagrees. She believes Sheriff Gualtieri has made the correct move in not arresting Drejka.
“My heart goes out to Ms. Jacobs and Mr. McGlockton’s family on the loss that they suffered. But, the Stand Your Ground law does not need to be changed as a result of this incident,” Moody writes in an email sent to the Florida Phoenix., referring to Britany Jacobs, the girlfriend of McGlockton. “A person has the right to protect oneself if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent imminent death and great bodily harm. The video is just one part of the story here and there are many more facts that will come out in the coming months as the investigation unfolds. In the end, the state attorney will make the final decision on whether Mr. Drejka should be charged.”
When unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin was gunned down in Central Florida in
2012, there were protests throughout the state against the legislation and calls
for the law to be repealed or at least scaled back.
While those efforts went nowhere, Republicans were successful in making it even
harder to prosecute those who want to use the Stand Your Ground law as a legal
defense. New legislation passed in 2017 says the state must show the burden of
proof with “clear and convincing evidence.”
That passed despite opposition several state attorneys such as Hillsborough
County’s Andrew Warren, who said the new law undermines the fair and equal
criminal justice system.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King says that public opposition to
Stand Your Ground might be greater than imagined, and contends it might be
easier to reform – if not repeal – the current law.
“You’ve got law enforcement from the state in favor of repealing it because they
believe it’s making their lives more vulnerable, and I think you’re going to see a lot
of support in the urban community that thinks this is just another policy which is
making their children less safe,” he said Monday.
Because Gualtieri has opted not to arrest Drejka, all eyes are now on McCabe, the
local prosecutor with jurisdiction on the matter. Activists with Black Lives Matter
Tampa, ANSWER Suncoast and the Restorative Justice Coalition have created a
petition for citizens to sign calling on McCabe to prosecute Drejka.
“Now, once again, a family is without a father and a community is left to question:
when will Black Lives Matter? The activists said in a statement.
McCabe has yet to comment publicly about the shooting.
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