Michael McGlockton is convinced that two things killed his son in a Florida parking lot last month: The man who pulled the trigger and the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law.
Markeis McGlockton, 28, died a few yards from his children and girlfriend at a store in Clearwater after a confrontation over a parking spot that reignited the debate over the law. The local sheriff said that under “stand your ground,” Michael Drejka was justified in the killing.
In an interview with The Associated Press — his first one-on-one with a news outlet since the shooting — Michael McGlockton said that if the law didn’t exist, his son might have gone home the night of July 19, or Drejka might have been arrested. Instead, McGlockton said, he buried his firstborn while the killer walked free.
“No law should be able to protect somebody to the point that they kill somebody on the street and they can lay in the bed the same night,” McGlockton said. “To me and my family, that’s a slap in the face. (Drejka) would’ve thought twice before he pulled the trigger. With the law, he knew that he could hide behind that.”
The law received international attention in 2012 when black teenager Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman. In the end, Zimmerman did not argue a “stand your ground” defense and was acquitted anyway.
The dispute with Drejka started when he yelled at McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs — who was in a car with two of the couple’s small children — outside a store for parking in a handicapped space. McGlockton, who was black and unarmed, pushed Drejka, who is white, to the ground. Drejka pulled out his handgun and killed him.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has declined to press charges. State prosecutors are considering whether to charge Drejka, 47.
“I didn’t make the law, and I do not do what people want because of outrage,” Gualtieri said. “If you’re outraged by the law and don’t like the law, then change it.”
The case drew hundreds to a rally last weekend in Clearwater.
Instead of scrapping the law, Florida lawmakers have strengthened it to force prosecutors to prove the shooting doesn’t fall under a “stand your ground” defense. Previously, defendants had to prove that defense applied.
A 2015 American Bar Association task force report on “stand your ground” laws found the statute is unpredictable, results in racial disparities and undermines victims’ rights. Additionally, the report said there was widespread confusion among law enforcement as to when shootings were justified.
Dennis Baxley, a Republican Florida legislator from Ocala and an initial “stand your ground” sponsor, says the law’s intent was to make it clear that when people are attacked, they have a right to defend themselves.
“I don’t think anyone should be raped or beaten because they think they would get in trouble for defending themselves,” Baxley said.
Baxley called the Clearwater case a “tough call” but said it’s up to the sheriff and prosecutor to decide whether a crime was committed.
McGlockton said it is his son who was defending himself and his family against a threat.
“This law does not work in favor of black people,” he said.
While Gualtieri has declined to file charges, McGlockton said he hopes for a different outcome from prosecutors.
“Everybody in America can see that tape,” he said, referring to the video of the confrontation. “I’m hoping the state’s attorney can see the exact same thing.”
McGlockton’s family is focused on pushing for Drejka’s arrest, prosecution and conviction. Then, he said, he’ll focus on pushing to change the law.
“He didn’t have to pull that trigger,” McGlockton said. “But because of ‘stand your ground,’ this is what happens.”
UPDATE: Michael Drejka was arrested on Aug. 13 on manslaughter charges related to this shooting, according to Fox News.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.