A Florida sheriff says the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law prevents the arrest of a man who fatally shot another man last week during an argument over a handicapped parking spot.
Markeis McGlockton, 28, shoved Michael Drejka, 47, to the ground during the argument Thursday at a Clearwater convenience store and then was shot and killed when Drejka, from a sitting position, pulled out a gun he legally owned and opened fire, shooting McGlockton once in the chest.
“He told deputies that he had to shoot to defend himself. Those are the facts and that’s the law," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said, according to WFTS-TV. “No matter how you slice it or dice it that was a violent push to the ground.”
Gualtieri announced Drejka had been cleared Friday. His decision led to a small protest at the store Saturday, Fox 13 Tampa reported. The State Attorney General could still make an arrest.
Fox 13 on Friday aired surveillance video showing the shooting and the moments leading up to it.
The station quoted Gualtieri as saying the facts were clear: McGlockton violently shoved Drejka to the ground and Drejka feared for his life. Because of that, he was covered under "Stand Your Ground.”
McGlockton, of Clearwater, shoved Drejka after he came out of the store and saw Drejka arguing with his girlfriend Britany Jacobs, 25, who was parked in the handicapped parking spot.
Drejka, also of Clearwater, confronted her because she didn’t have a permit to legally park there, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
McGlockton had gone inside to purchase snacks and sodas with their 5-year-old son, according to the paper. Jacobs was waiting for him in their car with their two other children, a 4-month-old and a 3-year-old.
Jacobs told WFTS that Drejka was getting away with murder.
“How is this 'Stand Your Ground' law?" she asked. "It’s not! Markeis pushed him, how does that justify a bullet?”
The Tampa Bay Times reported interviewing Rick Kelly, 31, who said that two months ago he was at the store and parked in the same handicapped spot. He said he saw Drejka walking around his vehicle checking to see if he had a permit, which he didn’t.
He said that during the ensuing argument Drejka threatened to shoot him.
"It’s a repeat,” Kelly told the paper. “It happened to me the first time. The second time it’s happening, someone’s life got taken. He provoked that."
That doesn’t matter, Gualtieri told reporters when he announced that Drejka wouldn’t be charged.
“What’s relevant is not whether this guy’s a good guy, nice guy, or whether he’s a jerk, or whether he’s a thorn in people’s side and what he’s done, whether it’s three weeks ago, three months ago or three years ago,” the sheriff said. “What’s relevant and the only thing we can look at here is was he in fear of further bodily harm.”