Clearwater, FL - Police will not arrest a man who shot and killed another man during a dispute over a handicap parking space due to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the shooting fell under Florida’s self-defense law at a press conference Friday, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The law gives immunity to people in fear of their lives who use force to defend themselves.
The shooting was “within the bookends of ‘stand your ground’ and within the bookends of force being justified,” Sheriff Gualtieri said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m not saying I agree with it, but I don’t make that call.”
The State Attorney’s Office will make the final decision, according to Sheriff Gualtieri.
The confrontation was captured on surveillance video. Michael Drejka, 47, had confronted Britany Jacobs about parking in a handicap space without a permit.
Jacobs’ boyfriend Markeis McGlockton, 27, came out of the convenience store and walked towards Drejka and pushed him to the ground. While on the ground, Drejka took out his gun and shot McGlockton in the chest. (Video below)
Sheriff Gualtieri said Drejka told police he was in fear of being attacked again. Drejka owned the gun legally and had a concealed carry permit, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
"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."
Jacobs said it was a wrongful death.
“It’s messed up,” Jacobs said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “Markeis is a good man … He was just protecting us, you know? And it hurts so bad."
The couple’s 4-month-old and 3-year-old were in the car at the time of the shooting.
Jacobs said she’s going to hire a lawyer to see what her options are, according to the Tampa Bay Times. She said she wants justice and said that Drejka approached her.
"He’s getting out like he’s a police officer or something, and he’s approaching me," she said. "I minded my own business … I didn’t do anything wrong."
“Stand Your Ground” was passed by the Legislature in 2005. People in Florida could defend themselves, but the law expanded that right saying there was no longer a duty to retreat in a violent encounter, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Last year, lawmakers changed the law and shifted the burden of proof from the defense to the prosecution.
Sheriff Gualtieri said there was a few seconds when Drejka paused before shooting.
"That pause gives me pause," the sheriff said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. "Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. But I don’t get to, and we don’t get to, substitute our judgment for Drejka’s judgment."
Drejka does not have a criminal history in Florida. However, in 2012 a driver accused him of pulling a gun during a road rage incident. Drejka said he did not pull a gun and the accuser did not press charges, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
McGlockton had a drug conviction in 2010 and a 10-year-old arrest for aggravated battery but that charge was dropped, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
A clerk at the convenience store said both men were regulars.
Mustafa Hashen, a clerk and witness to Friday’s shooting, said Drejka was in a similar fight with another customer a few months back.
Customer Rick Kelly said that he had parked in a handicap spot and Drejka confronted him, too. The interaction escalated and Drejka threatened to shoot him, Kelly said.
"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."
Watch the video here: