CLEARWATER, Florida — A Florida man convicted of manslaughter for killing a man who shoved him during a dispute over a handicapped-accessible parking spot wassentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday.
Michael Drejka faced up to 30 years in prison for shooting and killing Markeis McGlockton in July 2018 outside a convenience store in Clearwater, Florida. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with credit for the 92 days he already has served.
A jury convicted Drejka in late August after a five-day trial.
Drejka, who didn’t take the witness stand, tried unsuccessfully to use elements of Florida’s “stand your ground’ law as a defense for justifiable homicide.
McGlockton’s father, Michael McGlockton, told reporters in August that the verdict against Drejka will allow his family to rest.
“Now we can start putting the pieces back together and move on,” Michael McGlockton said then.
The incident began when Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend, parked in a handicapped-accessible space at the Circle A Food Store in Clearwater, 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
McGlockton’s death brought renewed scrutiny to Florida’s “stand your ground” law, in part because the county sheriff initially declined to arrest Drejka, saying that law appeared to give him immunity from prosecution.
The “stand your ground” law says that a person has no duty to retreat and has the right to use deadly force if he “reasonably believes” that doing so will prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.
But the law also states that “stand your ground” does not apply to a person who initially provokes the use of force against himself, unless he has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger.
A month after McGlockton’s death, a state attorney charged Drejka with manslaughter, dismissing the “stand your ground” immunity argument.