Stand Your Ground: No Charges After Man Shot Dead in Florida Parking Lot
FLORIDA — July 24, 2018
A man killed another man in Florida parking lot after an argument over a parking space. He was not arrested or charged because of the state's "stand your ground" law.
As it turned out, Markeis McGlockton, 28 was just trying to protect his girlfriend from being hassled over a handicapped parking space by a gun-toting gadfly, but instead, he was killed.
The confrontation began when McGlockton left his car idling in a handicapped parking space Thursday to run into the store to purchase snacks. His girlfriend Britany Jacobs was waiting in the car with their two children when Michael Drejka, 47 approached and told her to vacate the parking space since they did not have a permit to park there.
"He wanted somebody to be angry at," Jacobs said. "He just wanted someone to fight him. He was picking a fight. I'm just sitting, waiting for my family to come back to the car."
Then, as surveillance video showed, McGlockton left the store and kocked Drejka to the ground. Drejka then drew a handgun and shot and killed McGlockton, who appeared to be retreating just a few feet from the car.
“The guy is on the ground and he pulls the gun out,” Jacobs told ABC. “My dude steps back ’cause my dude is fearing for his life - all of us were.”
McGlockton, wounded, stumbled into the store, where he collapsed. He was pronounced dead roughly 30 minutes later at a hospital.
Drejka told police he feared for his life, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Friday at a press conference, where surveillance video of the shooting was released.
Now, the "Stand your ground" law is coming under intense scrutiny again. It went into effect in October 2005 as an effort to deter crime.
Apparently, the law has had little effect on reducing crime while giving gun-owners the license to shoot first and invoke the Stand Your Ground defense later.
Florida state Rep. Sean Shaw, D-Tampa, a candidate for state Attorney General, said he'd like to see the law repealed.
"This was an unnecessary and avoidable death," he said. "The 'Stand Your Ground' law is making our streets more dangerous and making it more difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs."
However, the final decision will be made after court. It is well known that Florida's law grants protection to people who claim self-defense after a shooting or violent incident.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri declined to file charges against Michael Drejka.
"He had to shoot to defend himself," Gualtieri, a legal concealed weapons permit holder, said at a press conference Friday. "Those are the facts and that is the law. No matter how you slice it or dice it, that was a violent push to the ground."
Bernie McCabe, the State Attorney for Pinellas County, is investigating the case to determine if any charges against Drejka are warranted.
According to the Ashley Moody, a former judge and prosecutor, who is one of Shaw's Republican opponents, the law should remain in place.
"A person has the right to protect oneself if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm," Moody told the newspaper.
"It [the Stand Your Ground law] allows a person to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that they are in danger of any harm or death," said a former federal prosecutor to journalists. "It also sort of eliminates this duty to retreat. It used to be when you were in public you had to flee; you had to retreat from a situation. Now even if the alleged attacker is retreating you can still use deadly force against that person."
"I also think that this is a law that gives people a license to kill black and people of color with no consequences despite having no objective fear or no justification," he added. "Everybody who looks at this video knows clearly the reason why this murderer isn't in jail is because of race."
Many states have enacted so-called stand your ground laws that remove the duty to retreat before using force in self-defense. Florida is among the 27 states in the nation that have the Stand Your Ground law; the first such law was passed in 2005, generally allowing people to “stand their ground” instead of retreating if they reasonably believe doing so will "prevent death or great bodily harm."
Other states followed with laws specifically affirming one's right to defend themselves, even outside of their homes and with deadly force if necessary. The wording of each state's laws will vary, but typically require you to have the right to be at the location in question. State self-defense laws may also overlap, but generally fall into three general categories:
Stand Your Ground: No duty to retreat from the situation before resorting to deadly force; not limited to your property (home, office, etc.).
Castle Doctrine: Limited to real property, such as your home, yard, or private office; no duty to retreat (use of deadly force against intruders is legal in most situations); some states, like Missouri and Ohio, even include personal vehicles.
Duty to Retreat: Must retreat from the situation if you feel threatened (use of deadly force is considered a last resort); may not use deadly force if you are safely inside your home.