A Florida man who was found guilty of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man during a dispute over a handicapped parking space in Florida last year was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday.
Michael Drejka, who fatally shot Markeis McGlockton, 28, outside of a Clearwater convenience store in July 2018, was found guilty of manslaughter in August.
Drejka had approached McGlockton’s car to see if it had the correct decal for a handicapped space and subsequently got in an argument with McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, who was in the car with two of their children.
When McGlockton came out of the store and saw what was going on, he shoved Drejka to the ground, surveillance footage showed. Drejka then pulled out his gun and shot McGlockton, the footage showed.
McGlockton was unarmed, and video surveillance and autopsy results indicated he was turning away from Drejka when he was shot.
Prosecutors said that Drejka started the altercation by confronting Jacobs because she was parked with her children in the handicapped space. They said Drejka had no reason to fire as McGlockton was retreating.
Jacobs testified that she feared for her safety before the argument escalated.
Drejka did not testify on his own behalf during the trial, which was in Clearwater. His defense team argued that it was Jacobs who was the aggressor, and “not once did Mr. Drejka threaten” either McGlockton or Jacobs.
Drejka, who has a concealed weapons license, was initially not arrested due to Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Nearly a month later though, local prosecutors charged Drejka with manslaughter following protests.
Michele Rayner-Goolsby, who represented McGlockton’s parents, said prior to the conviction that the outcome of the case would be closely watched because of how it touches on race — Drejka is white and McGlockton was black — as well as how law enforcement treats people of color since it took 25 days before any charges were brought against Drejka.
Drejka’s attorneys have said race is not an issue, and that Drejka has confronted other people about parking in the handicapped-accessible spot no matter their background.
In 2005, Florida became the first state to enact a “stand your ground” law, which states a citizen facing a threat or perceived threat does not have a duty to flee the scene and can use deadly force if they fear they face bodily harm.