CLEARWATER, Fla. — The State Attorney's Office has reviewed the controversial 'stand your ground' case into the death of Markeis McGlockton and has decided to file a manslaughter charge.
An arrest warrant was issued on Monday morning and Pinellas County detectives arrested Michael Drejka. He is being booked into the Pinellas County Jail and bond has been set at $100,000.
“This only step one," said Michael McGlockton, father of Markeis McGlockton, "Once we get this guy behind bars for good—or at least 30 years—that’s justice to me.
McGlockton, 28, was shot and killed on July 19 by Drejka, 47, outside of a convenience store in Clearwater. The shooting stemmed from a dispute over a handicap parking spot between Drejka and McGlockton's girlfriend.
"Let it be known that you cannot pick a fight and kill a man and claim immunity," said Desseri McCray, McGlockton's cousin.
ABC Action News spoke with a criminal defense attorney, Bjorn Brunvand, who calls this a strong case for the defense. He points out two key obstacles for prosecutors. First, the surveillance video showing McGlockton pushing Drejka. Secondly, the fact the stand your ground law changed last year to place the burden of proof on the prosecution to show it's not a stand your ground case instead of the defense to prove it.
“Is it reasonable that he was in fear? I think it was reasonable. I’m not a fan of the stand your ground law but that is our current law and I think it will be very beneficial to him," said Brunvand.
He adds should the defense file to dismiss, based on stand your ground, and a judge side with Drejka there would be no trial.
Drejka has a concealed carry license.
The arrest warrant released on Monday reveals McGlockton was about 10 to 15 feet away from Drejka at the time of the shooting, with the probable distance being 12 feet. It also several occasions where other people contacted police accusing Drejka of hold up a gun and threatening them.
WATCH: Video shows deadly shooting over parking spot
Statement from the family of Markeis McGlockton in response to Michael Drejka being charged with manslaughter:
“The announcement that Michael Drejka will be charged with manslaughter provides our family 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. This man killed Markeis in cold blood, without a second thought about the devastating impact his actions would have on our family, but this charge gives us a measure of hope that the truth will win and justice will prevail in the end.”
Statement from Attorney Ben Crump:
“My first thought on hearing this news was: It’s about time. I firmly stand behind the decision by the State Attorney's Office to charge Michael Drejka with manslaughter for killing Markeis McGlockton. 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. 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. We will continue to fight until justice is brought for the family of Markeis McGlockton.”
Statement from Clearwater Attorney Michele Rayner:
“On behalf of the family of Markeis McGlockton, I commend the office of State Attorney Bernie McCabe for charging Michael Drejka with manslaughter for his cold-blooded actions. This is a big step forward in the direction of justice, not only for Markeis’ family but also for society as a whole.”
Statement from Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights leader and President of National Action Network (NAN):
“NAN commends the Florida State Attorney’s Office for its decision to file manslaughter charges against Michael Drejka, who shot and killed Markeis McGlockton last month in a gross abuse of the state’s ‘stand your ground’ laws. These laws are an abomination that systematize a method of vigilante justice that consistently provides cover to racists and bigots for murdering innocent Black Americans – which is why I visited Clearwater this month to stand with NAN leaders and Florida’s Democratic candidates for Governor to call for putting an end to these kinds of laws once and for all. Today’s charges offer a ray of hope – but our work is not done. NAN will continue its work as the leading advocate for change in our nation’s broken criminal justice system.”
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