A man who fatally shot another man during a fight over a parking spot in Florida won’t be charged, due to a self-defense law, according to the local sheriff.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that the incident, which took place on July 19 outside a Circle A Food store in Pinellas County, fell under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law.
Britany Jacobs, 24, was sitting in her vehicle in a handicapped space outside the store while her boyfriend, Markeis McGlockton, 28, and their 5-year-old son, Markeis, went inside.
McGlockton was approached by Michael Drejka, 47, and the two began an argument over the parking space, police officers said in a statement obtained by ABC Action News. Drejka was upset because he believed Jacobs was parked illegally in the handicapped space.
“According to witnesses, McGlockton exited the store and walked over to Drejka who was still arguing with Jacobs in the parking lot,” police said in a statement. “Witnesses say McGlockton forcibly pushed Drejka, causing Drejka to fall to the ground. Witnesses told detectives that Drejka was on the ground when he took out a handgun and fired one single round at McGlockton, striking him in the chest.”
After McGlockton was shot, he ran inside and collapsed in front of his son; Jacobs rushed over and called 911, while Drejka placed his firearm inside his vehicle and waited for the police. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, enacted in 2005, enables residents to use force—including deadly force—if they reasonably believe they’re at risk of death or bodily harm.
“Sheriff Gualtieri outlined the subjective standard [in a press conference] set by the Florida Legislature that precluded the Sheriff’s Office from making an arrest by Florida State Statute under the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law,” the sheriff’s office stated in a press release.
The sheriff said that McGlockton didn’t just push but shoved Drejka to the ground with great force. “I mean this is a violent push, this isn’t just a push or a shove, this is violent and he slammed him to the ground,” he said.
“Drejka was cooperative, and during the interview what he claimed was that he had a verbal altercation, he was approached, he was slammed to the ground, and that he was in fear. And he felt after being slammed to the ground, that the next thing was that he was going to be further attacked by McGlockton.”
However, before McGlockton was shot, he visibly retreated once he saw the gun, calling into question whether he actually remained a threat to Drejka. McGlockton’s family doesn’t think so, and plans to hire a criminal attorney to investigate, they told ABC Action News. Jacobs said Drejka “got away with murder.”
“How is this ‘Stand Your Ground’ law?” Jacobs said. “It’s not! Markeis pushed him. How does that justify a bullet?”
Due to recent changes in Florida’s law, the burden is now on the prosecution to prove that the defendant was not acting in self-defense. Before, the defendant had the burden of proof.
“I’m a big believer in this adage that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. This case may be an example of that,” Gualtieri said in a press conference. “Nonetheless, we don’t build it, we just sail it. What I mean by that is, I don’t make the law, I enforce the law.”
Holly Kellum contributed to this report.