FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. – Prosecutors charged a white man with murder Monday in the death of an unarmed black man whose video recordings in a store car park has revived debate over Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
Michael Drejka, 47, is charged with the July 19 death of Markeis McGlockton outside a Clearwater supermarket, Pinellas County state Attorney Bernie McCabe said. Drejka was held in the county jail on $ 100,000 bail. It is unknown whether he has an attorney.
McCabe refused to comment further, referring reporters to court records that are not directly available.
McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, who was based in the couple’s car with two of their children, in the age of 3 years and 4 months, said Drejka facing her is parked in a disabled accessible space. McGlockton, 28, had gone into the store with their 5-year-old son. Jacobs said Drejka was cursing at her. Video shows McGlockton leave the store and pushed Drejka on the ground. Seconds later, Drejka drew a pistol and shot McGlockton as he backed away.
McGlockton family attorney Benjamin Crump — who gained national notoriety that the family of Trayvon Martin, after black teenager’s fatal shooting by a Spanish man in 2012 — said in a statement Monday, “it’s about time” Drejka was arrested. The family, civil rights groups and others had held protests demanding he be charged.
“These self-appointed wannabe cop tried to hide behind ‘Stand Your Ground’ to defend his indefensible actions, but the truth finally cuts through the noise,” said Crump. “I have full faith that this truth will prevail, for the punishment of this cold-blooded killer who is angry made of the argument that led to Markeis’ unnecessary death.”
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri originally declined to charge Drejka, saying, a day after the shooting that the man was protected by Florida’s stand-your-ground law. The sheriff passed the case to the public prosecutor for a final decision. The law says people can use deadly force if they believe they are in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm, and have no obligation to retreat. Under a change made by the Legislature last year, if a suspect calls a stand-your-ground defense, prosecutors must prove that the law does not apply.
“I support the Attorney’s decision and will have no further comment as the case continues to work its way through the criminal justice system,” Gualtieri said in a statement Monday.
The silent store security video shows the confrontation began about a minute after Jacobs pulled up in a handicapped accessible spot in the parking lot. Jacobs told reporters last week McGlockton had picked her from her job as a nurse assistant, the car park was busy and they were only to stop for a minute. McGlockton and his oldest son got out and entered the shop.
Drejka pulled up in his SUV seconds later, parking perpendicular to Jacobs, the woman account. She said Drejka got out, walked to the back of Jacobs’ car, looked at the license plate, and then went to the front, apparently looking for a handicap sticker. He seems to say something to Jacobs and points to the two empty spaces in the neighbourhood.
The video shows he walked up to Jacobs’ window. He speaks of about a foot (0.3 meters) away and gesturing with his hands. A man entering the store about 15 feet (5 meters) from the hotel, stops to look and a woman looks on.
McGlockton then exits the store, walks in the direction of Drejka, and, like Jacobs get out of the car — press Drejka with both hands. Drejka lands on his back, and McGlockton takes a step in the direction of him. Drejka sits up, pulls his gun from his right front pocket and points on McGlockton, three steps back, with his arms at his side. Drejka burn, save McGlockton, who runs back into the store on his chest, and clamped. Witnesses said he collapsed in front of his son, waiting within.
Michael McGlockton, the dead man’s father, told reporters at a press conference days later that his son was protecting his family when he slipped the Drejka.
Crump also represented the family of Martin, a 17-year-old black youth who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a Spanish man who his Orlando-area neighborhood watch captain. Zimmerman had confronted Martin, who ran back to the house of his father’s fiancee after making a purchase in a supermarket.
Zimmerman said he thought Martin might be a burglar casing houses. They fought, and Zimmerman fatally shot him. There were no eye-witnesses or videos. Zimmerman said he thought Martin, who was unarmed, was about to kill him, and a jury acquitted him of second-degree murder.