On July 19, 2018, at about 3:30 p.m., Markeis McGlockton stopped by the Circle A Food Store at 1201 Sunset Point Road near Clearwater. His girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, parked in a handicap-reserved spot outside the convenience store and waited in the car with two of the couple’s children — 4 months and 3 at the time. McGlockton, 28, went into the store with their third child, Markeis Jr., who was 5.
Michael Drejka, then 47, pulled into the parking lot and approached Jacobs, who was 25. He asked Jacobs why she had parked in the spot if she didn’t have a handicap-designated plate or placard. The two started arguing. It escalated to the point that others in the parking lot started paying attention.
One of the witnesses entered the store and reported what was going on. McGlockton stepped back outside, walked up to Drejka, and shoved him to the ground. Drejka pulled out a .40-caliber Glock handgun and shot McGlockton once in the chest. McGlockton was taken to Morton Plant Hospital and pronounced dead shortly after. The entire incident was caught on the store’s surveillance video.
The next day, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced in a news conference that he would not arrest Drejka, saying the shooting fell “within the bookends of ‘stand your ground’ and within the bookends of force being justified.” He referred the case to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office.
The announcement sparked a nationwide debate around Florida’s stand-your-ground self-defense law and laid the pressure on State Attorney Bernie McCabe. It also touched off a conversation about racial disparities in the criminal justice system. McGlockton was black and unarmed. Drejka is white.
Community groups organized vigils and protests over “Stand Your Ground”. Democratic candidates for governor cycled in and out of Clearwater, using the incident to showcase what they called an unjust law. Five members of Congress, including Rep. Charlie Crist and former Sen. Bill Nelson, called for the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation. Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who represented the parents of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, signed on to represent Jacobs. Martin was fatally shot in 2012 by a Sanford community watch member.
On Aug. 13, 2018, McCabe announced he was charging Drejka with manslaughter.
Just over one year later, on Aug. 23, 2019, a six-member jury convicted Drejka of the charge after 6½ hours of deliberation.
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