A 47-year-old man who shot and killed someone over a parking space dispute will not face criminal charges, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced during a Friday afternoon press conference.
The Thursday afternoon incident falls under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, he said. Investigators say Michael Drejka fatally shot Markeis McGlockton, 28, after he was shoved to the ground. The altercation was captured on video.
“People have a right to stand their grand and they have a right to defend themselves when they believe they’re in harm,” Gualtieri said.
A “pretty significant yelling match” broke out when Drejka arrived at the Circle A Food Store at 1201 Sunset Point Rd. in Clearwater and saw that McGlockton’s girlfriend, 24-year-old Brittany Jacobs, had illegally parked her car in a handicap spot.
“There was no physical violence,” said Gualtieri. “There was no threats, but it was a disturbance that they were yelling at each other and he was complaining about her parking in the handicap spot.”
McGlockton, who was in the store with his 5-year-old son, exited the store, walked to Drejka and pushed him down to the ground. Gualtieri said the push had “great force.”
“McGlockton approached Drejka. He didn’t waste any time getting to him, and then he pushed him, but it isn’t just a push. He really slammed him to the ground,” Gualtieri explained.
Drejka, who is a lawful concealed carry permit holder, then reaches for his gun and points it at McGlockton, who begins to back away from him. Video surveillance captures Drejka firing his pistol and striking McGlockton in the chest.
McGlockton stumbled back into the store where he collapsed, according to a new release. He was pronounced dead at Morton Plant Hospital.
According to Gualtieri, Drejka was cooperative with deputies and told them that he was in fear and believed that he was going to be attacked again by McGlockton.
“He felt after being slammed to the ground that the next thing was that he was going to be further attacked by McGlockton and that he was focused on McGlockton’s lower body, really couldn’t see his hands, but he felt the next thing was that he was gonna be slammed again and that he’d be struck again and he was in fear.”
Gualtieri said the “stand your ground” law is clear and subjective and that this incident “is within the bookends” of the self-defense law, which was recently modified. He explained that the burden of proof for “stand your ground” entitlement used to be on the defendant but now the State Attorney must prove that the shooter is not entitled to a “stand your ground” defense.
The case will be referred to the State Attorney’s Office, Gualtieri noted.
“I’m not saying I agree with the [the law], but I don’t make that call,” said Gualtieri, who added that the roughly four seconds between when Drejka hits the ground and when he fires his weapon gives him pause.
Toward the end of the press conference, Gualtieri said the law has a range and that his department must work with the evidence it has and enforce the law.
“Maybe somebody could make the case that this guy could’ve handled this differently, but that’s why you’ve got a range and you’ve got bookends and you’re going to have things that fall toward one end of the bookend or the other, that aren’t squarely in the middle. I think there’s an argument that this falls toward one side of the bookend, but it doesn’t take it outside the bookend.”