Clearwater, FL – A Florida man who used the “stand your ground” defense has been charged with manslaughter following weeks of protests from the community.
Initially, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the shooting was “within the bookends of ‘stand your ground’ and within the bookends of force being justified,” and Drejka was not charged, the Tampa Bay Times reporters.
But Pinellas County State’s Attorney Bernie McCabe disagreed, and charged Drejka on Aug. 13 after he received reports on the case from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
The shooting occurred in the parking lot of the Circle A convenience store after Drejka approached Britany Jacobs aggressively about parking her car in a handicapped space, ABC News reported.
Drejka circled Jacobs’ car looking for a handicap decal and when he found none, he began lecturing Roberts about the state’s parking regulations through her car window.
Jacobs said that the dispute became so intensified that it drew the attention of patrons in the store.
“He wanted somebody to be angry at. He just wanted someone to fight him,” Roberts said. “He was picking a fight. I’m just sitting, waiting for my family to come back to the car.”
Surveillance video showed the physical altercation began when Roberts’ boyfriend, McGlockton, came out of the store and saw Drejka arguing with his girlfriend.
The video showed the McGlockton exited the store, saw what was going on, and stormed up to Drejka and shoved him hard.
Drejka flew backwards several feet and landed on the pavement. He then pulled a handgun and pointed it at McGlockton, the video showed.
Drejka owned the gun legally and had a concealed carry permit, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The video showed that several seconds later, while still on the ground, Drejka fatally shot McGlockton as his five-year-old son watched.
Sheriff Gualtieri said Drejka told police he was in fear of being attacked again.
"Our job and our role is not to substitute our judgment for the law and what the Legislature has crafted as the framework," Sheriff Gualtieri said, according to the Tampa Bay Times, "but to enforce it equally and fairly as we’re required to do."
But after an investigation by the sheriff’s department, and weeks of protests by the family and friends of McGlockton, the McCabe’s office intervened and brought charges against Drejka.
McCabe said Drejka was not protected under “stand your ground” in the incident and said the charges against him were "consistent with the decision-making process established under Florida law in this case,” according to ABC News.
"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," Sheriff Gualtieri said in a statement, according to ABC News.
Further investigation had revealed that Drejka was a regular at the Circle A store and had a history of taking issue with people who parked in handicap spots illegally, according to the Washington Post.
McGlockton wasn’t the first person that Drejka had a run-in with at the same convenience store over a parking spot.
Rick Kelly told the Tampa Bay Times he stopped at the Circle A and parked in a handicap spot a few months earlier, and Drejka confronted him.
When the incident escalated, Kelly said Drejka threatened to shoot him, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
"It’s a repeat. It happened to me the first time. The second time it’s happening, someone’s life got taken," Kelly said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. "He provoked that."
Drejka was booked into the Pinellas County Jail and his bond was set at $100,000.