‘Killed Markeis in cold blood:’ Florida man charged with manslaughter in ‘stand your ground’ case
PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Michael Drejka, who fatally shot Markeis McGlockton after McGlockton shoved him in a Clearwater, Florida, convenience store parking lot, has been charged with manslaughter, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
“Consistent with the decision-making process established under Florida law in this case, the State Attorney conducted his review and decided to charge Drejka with manslaughter,” Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a news release.
Drejka was arrested Monday morning and booked into Pinellas County Jail. His bail is set at $100,000, the sheriff’s office said.
His first court appearance is set for Tuesday afternoon.
McGlockton’s family issued a statement praising the decision to charge Drejka.
“This man killed Markeis in cold blood, without a second thought about the devastating impact his actions would have on our family, but this charge gives us a measure of hope that the truth will win and justice will prevail in the end,” a family statement said.
The family’s attorney, Michele Rayner, commended the state attorney’s office for the manslaughter charge.
“This is a big step forward in the direction of justice, not only for Markeis’ family but also for society as a whole,” Rayner said in a statement.
Previously, Gualtieri said the state’s “stand your ground” laws prevented him from arresting Drejka last month.
“To arrest, it must be so clear that, as a matter of law, ‘stand your ground’ does not apply in any way to the facts and circumstances that you’re presented with,” Gualtieri said.
His comments came after McGlockton’s family and girlfriend slammed the decision not to arrest Drejka. Drejka, 47, is white, and McGlockton was black.
McGlockton, 28, died July 19 after the altercation with Drejka, which began as an argument over a parking space. McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, had parked in a handicapped parking space, and Drejka confronted her while McGlockton was inside the store.
McGlockton came outside, approached Drejka and shoved him to the ground, surveillance video shows. Drejka pulled out a handgun, and as McGlockton backed away from him, shot him in the chest.
“My decision not to arrest is merely doing what Florida law compels,” Gualtieri said at the time. “A whole bunch of people have offered a whole bunch of different opinions. … I’d suggest to you that the mere fact that so many people have so many different opinions validates the decision not to arrest Drejka (at) this stage.”
Pinellas and Pasco County State Attorney Bernie McCabe told CNN he came to his decision to charge Drejka after a nine-day review that began August 1.
“We interviewed witnesses and looked at all the available surveillance video, and we made our decision to move forward based on all the information available,” the prosecutor said.
Florida’s “stand your ground” law, perhaps the strongest in the country, grants immunity to the person acting in self-defense and puts the burden of proof on the state.
“I support the State 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 his Monday statement.