The man accused of fatally shooting an African American man at a parking lot in Clearwater, Florida, was arrested on manslaughter charges Monday, authorities said. The shooting of Markeis McGlockton reignited the debate over Florida’s “stand your ground law” after the local sheriff’s office declined to bring charges in the case last month.
Michael Drejka, 47, was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail, the State Attorney’s office said. His bond has been set at $100,000. Officials said the decision to press charges was consistent under Florida law.
“It’s about time,” McGlockton family attorney Benjamin Crump said of the arrest. Crump gained national prominence representing Trayvon Martin’s family after the black 17-year-old was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in 2012.
“This self-appointed wannabe cop attempted to hide behind ‘Stand Your Ground’ to defend his indefensible actions, but the truth has finally cut through the noise,” Crump said in a statement Monday. “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.”
Last month, McGlockton parked in a handicap spot with his girlfriend and three young children before going into a convenience store with his 5-year-old son to buy snacks. Outside, Drejka approached McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs. She said Drejka yelled at her for parking in a handicapped spot without a permit.
Surveillance footage shows McGlockton walking out of the store and shoving Drejka to the ground. Seconds later, Drejka pulled out his gun and fired a single shot at McGlockton in the chest. He later died at a nearby hospital.
Drejka has a concealed weapons permit and told police he shot McGlockton because he feared for his life. The sheriff’s office originally declined to pursue charges last month and passed the case onto prosecutors to make the final decision. The office said Drejka was protected by the state’s “stand your ground” law, which allows people to use deadly force when fearing “imminent death or great bodily harm” without a duty to try to escape the danger.
“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,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a statement Monday.
Jacobs, however, said McGlockton backed away from Drejka after he pushed him. “This is wrong,” she said, “because what my man was trying to do was protect his girl like anybody else would.”
The McGlockton family said Monday that the manslaughter charge provides them “with a small measure of comfort in our time of profound mourning.”
“While this decision cannot bring back our partner, our son, our father, we take solace in knowing our voices are being heard as we work for justice,” the family said in a statement.
In the weeks following the shooting, protesters marched throughout the city demanding changes to the law and called on authorities to arrest Drejka.