Prosecutors have charged Michael Drejka – who shot and killed a man over a parking spot in July – in a reversal of the sheriff’s decision not to bring charges in the incident that prompted debate over “stand your ground” laws.Drejka, 47, was arrested and charged with manslaughter Monday by the district attorney for Pinellas County in western Florida, authorities said. He is being held on $100,000 bond in the killing of Markeis McGlockton, 28, in Clearwater.
The July 19 shooting was the culmination of a heated but brief exchange between the two men. Drejka confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend about her vehicle parked in a disabled spot at a convenience store while McGlockton was inside with their 5-year-old son.
McGlockton rushed to defend Britany Jacobs, his girlfriend, and shoved Drejka to the ground, surveillance video shows. Drejka pulled out a pistol and shot McGlockton in the chest. McGlockton staggered inside and collapsed. Their other children were in the car as the shooting unfolded. McGlockton died less than an hour later.
The next day, in a lengthy defense of his decision not to pursue an arrest, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a 30-minute news conference that Drejka acted within his right to defend himself with deadly force.
But prosecutors have since diverged from the sheriff’s assessment. State Attorney Bernie McCabe said his office reviewed Gualtieri’s investigation and conducted their own probe.
“We reached the conclusion that this is a charge we can prove,” McCabe told The Washington Post on Monday. Drejka will appear in court Tuesday as he faces charges that could bring up to 30 years in prison, McCabe said. It is not clear whether he has retained an attorney.
Florida law says that people who think someone is trying to kill or seriously harm them don’t have an obligation to retreat before using deadly force.
Drejka “felt after being slammed to the ground, the next thing was he was going to be further attacked by McGlockton,” Gualtieri said in July. He has been sheriff since 2011 and also has a law degree.
The killing of McGlockton, and Gualtieri then declining to arrest or charge Drejka, has been among the most prominent incidents in the debate over “stand your ground” enforcement.
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