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Florida Shooter Michael Drejka Speaks for the First Time Since Arrest
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Florida Shooter Michael Drejka Speaks for the First Time Since Arrest

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FLORIDA — September 4, 2018

After much controversy, breaking his silence in a jailhouse interview, the white Florida man charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in a dispute over a parking space says "I cleared every hurdle" of the state's "stand your ground" self-defense law.

Michael Drejka, who is now charged with the killing of Markeis McGlockton, made his first speech since being arrested and charged. The incident occurred on July 19 during over a handicapped parking space. Based on surveillance video and reports of the encounter, McGlockton and his 5-year-old son were at the Circle A Food Store in Clearwater when Drejka approached their car, which was parked in a handicap space. McGlockton's partner, Britany Jacobs, was in the car with the couple's kids. Drejka and Jacobs began to argue over whether McGlockton and Jacob were allowed to park there.

Drejka, 48, invoked the "stand your ground" law, saying that he was in fear of his life after McGlockton shoved him to the ground when he came out of a store.

"I followed the law the way I felt the law was supposed to be followed," Drejka told WTSP-TV in Tampa Bay. "I cleared every hurdle that that law had put in front of me."

Asked if he could go back and change anything he did that fateful day, Drejka said, "No, [not] off the top of my head."

Drejka spotted Jacobs sitting in her car parked in a handicap spot outside the Circle A convenience store in Clearwater waiting for McGlockton, the father of her three children, to come out.

He said he confronted Jacobs because he has a "pet peeve" about seeing people illegally parked in spots reserved for the disabled.

Drejka said he once had a childhood sweetheart who was disabled in a car crash when she was 16, and that his mother-in-law is also disabled.

"I always said, my whole life is always looking for a handicapped parking spot," Drejka said in the interview conducted Friday at the Pinellas County Jail, where he is being held on $100,000 bail. "And it just always touched a nerve with me."

He also noted that the incident had nothing to do with race, and said it was "totally false" that he used racial slurs in the encounter with Jacobs or anyone else. Before that McGlockton family attorneys said it was just a racial question.

Drejka refuted the allegations and said "No sir, not by any means. I've worked with too many people, I've met too many people in my life to be that kind of person. There's no way to survive really by being like that."

Then prosecutors again dismantled video from surveillance cameras and identified that Drejka, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, pulling a 40-caliber Glock handgun while he was still on the ground and firing it at McGlockton, who appeared to be retreating.

The video shows McGlockton being shot once in the left side. Jacobs said she and McGlockton's 5-year-old son witnessed the shooting. McGlockton stumbled back in the store mortally wounded and later died at a hospital.

Drejka said he feared for his life when McGlockton "tackled" him to the ground.

"There was only one way to look at that. You have to be scared ... because if you’re not and you're wrong you know… that’s that," he said. "So, yeah very scared having never been confronted like that or never been assaulted like that if you will."

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri initially declined to arrest Drejka after the gunman invoked the "stand your ground" defense, saying his decision was bound by the law.

Drejka said he felt "vindicated" by Gualtieri's decision, even as protests broke out in Clearwater and across the nation over the shooting.

"I'm a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights and the fact that everybody deserves to feel secure in their person no matter where they go or what they're doing as long as they're there legally, of course," he said. "So yeah, I guess you can say I'm a big supporter of the Second Amendment. I suppose not overtly outspoken about it, but in my heart."

When asked if he could say anything to McGlockton's loved ones, he initially declined. But later in the interview, he said, "I'm sorry, that's all I can really say to them."

"And thinking about it, would you accept those kinds of words from someone? I don’t think I would," he said.

On August, 13 Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe filed a manslaughter charge against him, and then Drejka confessed he was surprised and said that the court has lied to him.

"And under the guise of returning my property, he requested me to show up at the sheriff's office to talk to the original detectives," he said during the arrest.

There was only one moment when Drejka showed emotion, when he was asked about his family, who he claims have been facing death threats and eviction from their rented home.

"I miss my girl. I miss my girls. All of them, yeah," he said crying.

Attorneys for Jacobs and the McGlockton family didn't comment on Drejka's arrest but said it was the prosecutors' decision.

"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 a statement after Drejka was charged with manslaughter.

Jacobs' attorney, Benjamin Crump, has called Drejka a "self-appointed wannabe cop" who attempted to "hide behind 'stand your ground' to defend his indefensible actions."

"I have full faith that this truth will prevail to punish this cold-blooded killer who angrily created the altercation that led to Markeis' needless death," Crump said the day Drejka was charged. "We will continue to fight until justice is brought for the family of Markeis McGlockton."

Drejka has plead not guilty to the charge and has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for October 19.

Earlier, Drejka's case caused a wave of controversy in Florida and beyond. This story was all over national media. McGlockton’s wife and friends gave compelling interviews. Gun control supporters used this tragedy to push their agenda. Florida “stand your ground” law has been declared “controversial” and there have been calls for its revision. Many have also noted a racial element in the story, as Drejka was white and McGlockton was black, however, now the accused himself has denied these statements.

Drejka also reportedly has a history of confronting people over handicap spaces, allegedly threatening to shoot a trucker in the past over the issue. But the sheriff said that, legally, Drejka’s history isn’t relevant to the July 19 shooting.

Florida’s “stand your ground” statute grants immunity to those who fear for their lives and use force to defend themselves. In the US, this law has been in force in most States for more than 100 years (Beard V. U.S. 158 U.S. 550 1895 g.)

It allows a law-abiding citizen to kill a person if the said person poses a danger to the life/property of the citizen or illegally tried to enter his private territory.

"If you're hit — give back, and not wait until you're getting beaten to death."

Author: USA Really