CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – The man accused in the controversial Stand Your Ground shooting death in Clearwater last month is now facing charges.
On Monday, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office announced the State Attorney had finished reviewing the case and decided to charge 48-year-old Michael Drejka with manslaughter.
Deputies say Drejka shot and killed 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton on July 19 in the parking lot of the Circle A Food Store on Sunset Point Road.
According to investigators, Drejka approached McGlockton’s girlfriend, 24-year-old Britany Jacobs, who was parked in a handicapped parking spot outside the store. Drejka started to argue with Jacobs while she waited for McGlockton and his 5-year-old son, who had gone into the store.
Surveillance video shows McGlockton leave the store and push Drejka to the ground. Drejka then shot McGlockton in the chest.
At the time, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri explained that Drejka was not arrested because the incident fell under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. The law grants immunity to anyone who uses deadly force if they can reasonably claim they were defending themselves.
The case was turned over to the State Attorney, who completed his review and issued an arrest warrant. Deputies arrested Drejka Monday morning and booked him into the Pinellas County Jail, where he is being held on $100,000 bond.
“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.
McGlockton’s loved ones have insisted from the beginning that the shooting does not fall under the Stand Your Ground law. They say he was just protecting his family, and say Drejka’s arrest provides the 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,” they said. “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.”
Benjamin Crump, the attorney who represented Trayvon Martin’s family, has been hired to represent McGlockton’s girlfriend. He released this statement following Drejka’s arrest:
“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.”
Michele Rayner of Rayner Robinson Law Firm, who is representing the rest of McGlockton’s family, released this statement:
“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.”
After the incident, Drejka remained silent and declined to comment on what happened.
Last week, News Channel 8 obtained new reports showing he has a history of road rage encounters. 8 On Your Side also previously spoke with a truck driver who claimed that he also got into a dispute with Drejka over the same handicapped space the led to last month’s fatal shooting.
Last month’s incident in Clearwater gained national attention and drew heavy criticism of the Stand Your Ground law. Last week, Rev. Al Sharpton visited Clearwater and rallied to end it. Sheriff Gualtieri responded to the rally the next day, telling Sharpton to “Go back to New York” and “mind your own business.”
Sharpton released this statement on Monday following Drejka’s arrest:
“National Action Network (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.”