Florida man in fatal parking lot dispute sentenced to 20 years
A Florida man was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison for killing an unarmed black man who shoved him in a parking lot dispute. The slain man’s family embraced the sentence, saying they feel they’ve received a measure of justice.
The victim’s lawyers say Michael Drejka’s punishment is a significant victory against what they say is repeated abuse of Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” self-defense law.
Drejka was convicted of manslaughter in August, after shooting and killing Markeis McGlockton in July 2018 outside a convenience store in Clearwater, Florida. At trial, his lawyers had tried unsuccessfully to use elements of Florida’s “stand your ground” law as a defense for justifiable homicide.
“Now I can go home and tell my children that the killer didn’t get away with murder of their daddy,” Britany Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend and mother of his four children, told reporters after the sentencing.
“I know Markeis is up there in heaven smiling, because we did get justice for him.”
Prosecutors had asked for 30 years, the maximum sentence, and McGlockton’s relatives asked for the same during a hearing Thursday morning before Judge Joseph Bulone in a Clearwater court.
McGlockton’s father, Michael McGlockton, told reporters he’ll accept the sentence. But, paraphrasing what he’d told the judge, he said he’s not ready to forgive Drejka for killing his only son.
“I know in the Bible it talks about you’ve got to forgive those who trespass against you, but at this point in my life, I’m not there yet,” Michael McGlockton said.
“And if the Lord just so happens to choose to take me before I get to that point, I guess me and Michael Drejka will have to finish that in hell.”
The incident began when Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend, parked in a handicapped-accessible space at the Circle A Food Store in Clearwater on July 19, 2018, with McGlockton and their children in the car, authorities said.
After McGlockton and their 5-year-old son went inside the store, Drejka, then 47, got into an argument with Jacobs over the spot. McGlockton left the store, walked over and pushed Drejka.
Surveillance footage shows Drejka on the ground pulling out a gun and shooting McGlockton as he started to move away. Drejka, who had a concealed weapons license, argued that he saw McGlockton moving toward him and thought McGlockton was going to kick and beat him.
“If he was going to hit me that hard to begin with, a blind side from the get-go, what else should I expect?” Drejka said in his police interview.
Police questioned him several times on the discrepancy between the video and his statements that McGlockton took steps toward him.
“I shoot to save my own ass, and that’s that,” Drejka said in his police interview.
At trial, prosecutors argued Drejka was a “parking lot vigilante” who acted illegally. The defense portrayed him as a man who acted legally out of fear for his life.
Case brought renewed attention to ‘stand your ground’ law