ORLANDO, Florida. – A dispute last week over a disabled parking spot quickly escalated into a fatal shooting, and now the dead man’s family is outraged that the shooter has avoided arrest, apparently protected by Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law.
The family of Markeis McGlockton late Tuesday for the public to put pressure on the state Attorney-Bernie McCabe to bring an action against Michael Drejka, a white man who fatally shot the black father of three last Thursday on is pushed to the ground outside a Clearwater, Florida convenience store.
“The lord Drejka is walking around the streets of Clearwater free as a bird,” Michele Rayner, a lawyer for the McGlockton family, said at a press conference. “In essence, this is murder, plain and simple.”
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, last week announced he was not going to arrest Drejka and said that the State Attorney’s Office will make a decision on the costs.
Drejka face McGlockton’s girlfriend about parking in a handicapped space without a permit while they waited in a car outside a supermarket, and tells her to move her “f—— the car,” the friend, Britany Jacobs, said Tuesday at the press conference.
After leaving the shop and seeing the argument, McGlockton moved Drejka on the ground, and Drejka drew his gun. Seconds later, Drejka shot McGlockton in the trunk, according to the camera footage from the store.
The case fell under Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, which allows people to use force without retreating when they feel threatened, the sheriff said.
“I’m not saying that I agree, but I do not think that to call it,” Gualtieri said at a press conference last Friday.
The few seconds between the time that Drejka hit the ground and fired the shot “give me a break,” the sheriff said.
But Rayner said McGlockton was just protecting his girlfriend and two children in the car when he moved Drejka and that McGlockton is not a direct threat to the shooter. McGlockton was back when he was shot in the side, ” she said.
“There is a lot of conversation … about the ‘stand your ground’ law and the problems with the ‘stand your ground’ law, how it disproportionately do not benefit people of color, how there are too many nuances in the law and it is to be loosely applied,” Rayner said. “Ultimately, this case was not ‘stand your ground.'”
A number of legal experts, though, said Tuesday that the case is a classic example of the “stand your ground” law. The often racially charged, the statute gained national prominence in 2012 after neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman fatally shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, claiming self-defense. Zimmerman, a white hispanic, eventually waive his right to self-defense immunity hearing and was acquitted of criminal charges at trial.
Nova Southeastern University professor Shahabudeen Khan said Drejka would have felt threatened while on the ground.
“The main problem faced by the shooter, it is the physical position on the ground he is in, because of that first edition,” Khan said. “He fell on the ground. He is in a weak physical position and posture even if there is a few seconds pause.”
Added Khan, ” The law allows him to do exactly what he did. That is to stand your ground.”
For the past 13 years, Florida’s “stand your ground” law has eliminated a citizen’s duty to retreat before using deadly force in response to an apparent threat. A change of the law last year switched the burden of proof on defense attorneys, a case for the prosecutors have to disprove the self-defense claim.
Jacobs, who has three children with McGlockton, and his parents described him as a family man who liked to rap and draw.
“He found it not to be so! He found it not to be so!”, she said.
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