Michael Drejka GUILTY Of Manslaughter For Killing An Unarmed Black Man

Jury takes just six hours to find Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ shooter Michael Drejka GUILTY of manslaughter for killing an unarmed black man in a row over a disabled parking spot

  • McGlockton was gunned down by Drejka dur­ing a July 2018 park­ing spot dis­pute
  • After just three days of tes­ti­mo­ny, lawyers gave clos­ing argu­ment on Friday
  • A jury found Drejka guilty of manslaugh­ter and he will be sen­tenced October 10
  • He faces a min­i­mum of nine-and-a-half-years in jail up to a max­i­mum of 15 years
  • McGlockton had come out of the store while Drejka was con­fronting his girl­friend
  • The girl­friend had parked in a dis­abled spot and Drejka was unhap­py about it 
  • Surveillance footage cap­tured the shoot­ing and showed him draw­ing his gun four sec­onds after he was pushed over by McGlockton

A Florida man on tri­al for manslaugh­ter for killing an unarmed black man in a 2018 ‘Stand Your Ground shoot­ing’ has been found guilty of manslaugh­ter. Markeis McGlockton was shot and killed by Michael Drejka dur­ing a dis­pute over a dis­abled per­son­’s park­ing spot at a Clearwater con­ve­nience store. Drejka, 49, admit­ted to shoot­ing McGlockton last year, but his defense team unsuc­cess­ful­ly tried to argue it was self-defense, reignit­ing a fierce nation­al debate on the con­tro­ver­sial law. The gun­man will be sen­tenced on October 10 and faces a min­i­mum of nine-and-a-half-years in prison and a max­i­mum of 15 years, accord­ing to Florida state law.

Drejka admitted to shooting McGlockton last year

Drejka, 49, shot and killed Markeis McGlockton, 28, in July 2018 in an argument over a parking spot

Michael Drejka (pic­tured top) is shown in court on Friday, before the jury was sent out for delib­er­a­tions. He declined to tes­ti­fy. Drejka, 49, shot and killed Markeis McGlockton (below), 28, in July 2018 in an argu­ment over a park­ing spot

McGlockton's father, Michael McGlockton (pictured), said following the verdict: 'It's been well over a year... but my family can rest now. We can start putting the pieces back together'
McGlockton’s father, Michael McGlockton (pic­tured), said fol­low­ing the ver­dict: ‘It’s been well over a year… but my fam­i­ly can rest now. We can start putting the pieces back togeth­er’

The 49-year-old had been argu­ing with McGlockton’s girl­friend over a park­ing spot in a dis­abled bay out­side a food store in Clearwater, Florida. He did not have any­one in his vehi­cle and is not dis­abled him­self but he said see­ing peo­ple abus­ing hand­i­cap spots upset him. 
Jury delib­er­a­tions last­ed rough­ly six hours, it was report­ed, with a short break at around 9:30pm when jurors request­ed clar­i­fi­ca­tion on the instruc­tions for decid­ing guilt or inno­cence. When McGlockton emerged from the store, he pushed Drejka over. Drejka reached for his weapon and shot him in the chest, killing him. Members of McGlockton’s fam­i­ly wept as the ver­dict was read and hugged and shook hands with the pros­e­cu­tors after the court was adjourned.

Michelle Rayner (pictured), attorney for Markeis McGlockton's parents, said: 'I want to express thankfulness and gratefulness to the law firm and the office of the state attorney'
Michelle Rayner (pic­tured), attor­ney for Markeis McGlockton’s par­ents, said: ‘I want to express thank­ful­ness and grate­ful­ness to the law firm and the office of the state attor­ney’
Jury deliberations lasted roughly six hours, it was reported, with a short break at around 9:30pm when jurors requested clarification on the instructions for deciding guilt or innocence
Jury delib­er­a­tions last­ed rough­ly six hours, it was report­ed, with a short break at around 9:30pm when jurors request­ed clar­i­fi­ca­tion on the instruc­tions for decid­ing guilt or inno­cence

This con­vic­tion does­n’t bring our son back, but it does give us some sense of jus­tice because far too often the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem fails us by allow­ing peo­ple who take the lives of unarmed Black peo­ple to walk free as though their lives meant noth­ing,’ McGlockton’s moth­er, Monica Robinson, said in a state­ment. ‘We are hope­ful that this con­vic­tion will be a brick in the road to chang­ing the cul­ture of racism here in Florida.’ McGlockton’s father, Michael McGlockton, said on the court steps fol­low­ing the ver­dict: ‘It’s been well over a year… but my fam­i­ly can rest now. We can start putting the pieces back togeth­er.’ Michelle Rayner, attor­ney for Markeis McGlockton’s par­ents, said: ‘I want to express thank­ful­ness and grate­ful­ness to the law firm and the office of the state attor­ney.

Drejka will now be sentenced on October 10 and faces a minimum of nine-and-a-half-years in prison up to a maximum of 15 years behind bars, according to Florida state law
Drejka will now be sen­tenced on October 10 and faces a min­i­mum of nine-and-a-half-years in prison up to a max­i­mum of 15 years behind bars, accord­ing to Florida state law

It was very clear it was­n’t just anoth­er case. It was very clear… that you sought to make the jury remem­ber to make the world remem­ber that Markeis mat­tered. ‘We’re thank­ful the jury got it right. We’re thank­ful that the jury saw that we saw — that a park­ing lot vig­i­lante with an ax to grind, mur­dered Markeis Mcglockton. ‘There are oth­er fam­i­lies that do not have jus­tice for their loved ones and so while we will cel­e­brate that we will also con­tin­ue stand­ing in the gap for those fam­i­lies. ‘So once again we are incred­i­bly thank­ful to the pros­e­cu­tion, we’re grate­ful to the jurors of this case that they saw what they saw and I’m so proud and hon­ored to stand here with Markeis’ fam­i­ly.’ Michael McGlockton, Markeis’ father added: ‘It’s been well over a year… but my fam­i­ly can rest now. We can start putting the pieces back togeth­er.’ 

Drejka’s attor­neys argued that he thought he was at dan­ger and for that rea­son, he should be found inno­cent. Prosecutors, how­ev­er, said sur­veil­lance footage of the inci­dent proved that he was not in dan­ger and that he shot too soon, with­out prop­er­ly assess­ing the risk. ‘This is real­ly a cut and dry case. There’s no mis­in­ter­pret­ing that Markeis McGlockton was going back­ward,’ he said, in ref­er­ence to the fact that McGlockton was walk­ing away from Drejka when he was shot. ‘Did Michael Drejka rea­son­ably believe he was about to die? Did he believe he was about to be beat­en to a pulp? No,’ Scott Rosenwasser told the jury. ‘You can­not shoot an unarmed retreat­ing man, regard­less of if he’s pushed you,’ he went on. 

Prosecutors said he thought of him­self as a ‘vig­i­lante enforcer’ who had a ‘pet peeve’ about able-bod­ied peo­ple park­ing in dis­abled spots. ‘He’s got a pet peeve… he takes it upon him­self to be the enforcer. He’s a park­ing lot vig­i­lante,’ he said. He also crit­i­cized the way Drejka used police ter­mi­nol­o­gy while being inter­viewed by detec­tives when he had no law enforce­ment back­ground. ‘How many civil­ians walk around say­ing ‘neu­tral­ize’ and ‘neg­a­tive’. Those are law enforce­ment and mil­i­tary terms. Nobody talks like that. But he does. ‘He goes to enforce a spot at a con­ve­nience store, not like it’s his own prop­er­ty, and then he’s like, ‘I can’t believe she would talk back to me like that.’ ‘That’s his men­tal­i­ty,’ he said. Drejka’s attor­neys pre­sent­ed expert wit­ness­es to try to hold up his Stand Your Ground Defense. 

Drejka is shown lying on the floor during his police interview, reenacting shooting the victim
Drejka is shown lying on the floor dur­ing his police inter­view, reen­act­ing shoot­ing the vic­tim


In his clos­ing argu­ment, one of his lawyers told jurors to ‘use your com­mon sense’ and said it was entire­ly rea­son­able for him to pre­sume that McGlockton was going to hurt him. ‘He was­n’t going out there to hug him. Come on! Use your com­mon sense,’ attor­ney John Trevena said. ‘Your fun­da­men­tal right is to stay alive,’ he said, adding that Drejka ‘did not have the phys­i­cal capac­i­ty to defend him­self against such an aggres­sor.’ Trevena also chipped away at pros­e­cu­tors’ char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of him as trig­ger hap­py and said he had legal­ly owned a gun with­out fir­ing it for 25 years. ‘You’d think if some­body was itch­ing to use a firearm, if that was their agen­da, you would­n’t have found some­one in 25 years’ time?’ he added. ‘No one is dis­put­ing that he shot this man. It’s all on video,’ he said. He added that he felt pros­e­cu­tors had ‘manip­u­lat­ed’ the jurors. 

Britany Jacobs, 26, spoke publicly for the first time about the circumstances leading up to the death of her long-term boyfriend, Markeis McGlockton, 28, at the Clearwater convenience store parking lot on July 19, 2018
Britany Jacobs, 26, spoke pub­licly for the first time about the cir­cum­stances lead­ing up to the death of her long-term boyfriend, Markeis McGlockton, 28, at the Clearwater con­ve­nience store park­ing lot on July 19, 2018

The defense focused on the term dead­ly force and how it applies to cit­i­zens and not just law enforce­ment under the law. They asked the jury to con­sid­er not whether McGlockton was actu­al­ly pos­ing a threat, but whether they think it was rea­son­able for Drejka to assume that he was and draw his weapon. The pros­e­cu­tion tore it apart and said they jury ought not to rule on what Drejka per­ceived as a threat, but what a rea­son­able per­son would per­ceive as a threat. The defense tried to use a real gun as a prop at one stage to try to make their case but the judge did not allow it. The defense pre­sent­ed just three wit­ness­es. Drejka chose not tes­ti­fy, telling the judge through a state­ment: ‘I pre­fer not to tes­ti­fy.’ The pros­e­cu­tion pre­sent­ed more than 17 wit­ness­es. They also played a video of his inter­view where he told the cops: ‘I shoot to save my own a**. And that’s that.’ 

Elsewhere in the inter­view he said he thought McGlockton was going to kick him. ‘It hap­pened so fast and that was that. …I thought kicks were com­ing or at least he’d be on top of me. ‘As I come out I start draw­ing my weapon. As I start lev­el­ing off my weapon, he makes his next step towards me and 21-foot rule. ‘It hap­pened so fast and that was that. …I thought kicks were com­ing or at least he’d be on top of me. ‘I’m think­ing he’s com­ing to do the rest of it… what­ev­er beat­ing was com­ing after that. If he’s gonna hit me that hard to begin with from blind­side from the get-go, what else should I expect? ‘He bare­ly made the sec­ond step before I pulled the trig­ger.

At one point in the hour long inter­view, Drejka got on the ground and mim­ic­ked how he’d shot McGlockton. He said that even though McGlockton was unarmed, he did not know that and that he thought his life was in dan­ger. Drejka said he feared he was going to ‘fin­ish what he start­ed’ when he pushed him over and that he was try­ing to pre­empt it. The shoot­ing was cap­tured on sur­veil­lance videos out­side the store. The footage shows McGlockton edg­ing away from Drejka when he was shot. 

The first trial witness was Rich Kelly who said Drejka threatened to shoot him for parking in the same spot four months earlier
The first tri­al wit­ness was Rich Kelly who said Drejka threat­ened to shoot him for park­ing in the same spot four months ear­li­er 

When the detec­tive told Drejka that instead of approach­ing him, he was back­ing away, Drejka said he ‘dis­agreed’. The detec­tives found it unusu­al that Drejka knew so much about the 21ft rule — a term invoked by law enforce­ment which refer the dis­tance a sus­pect can trav­el towards an offi­cer by the time they have iden­ti­fied a threat and pulled their weapon. There was also tes­ti­mo­ny from a police train­er who was famil­iar with the 21ft rule. He said the Drejka was wrong to invoke it and said it did not apply in his case. Among oth­er wit­ness­es was Noël Palma, the med­ical exam­in­er who per­formed an autop­sy on the vic­tim’s body. The bul­let trav­eled through his left lung and pierced his heart and right lung, caus­ing him to die ‘pret­ty quick­ly.’ Other state wit­ness­es includ­ed a doc­tor who deter­mined McGlockton had ecsta­sy in his sys­tem at the time of his death. On Wednesday, the dead man’s girl­friend, who wit­nessed his death with her chil­dren in the back of her car, said she remem­bered think­ing that she want­ed Drejka to leave her and ‘her babies alone’. There was also tes­ti­mo­ny from a dif­fer­ent black motorist who Drejka threat­ened to shoot for park­ing in the same dis­abled spot four months before McGlockton’s death.

Parking lot vig­i­lante’ Michael Drejka had a ‘pet peeve’ for peo­ple improp­er­ly using dis­abled spots and viewed him­self as ‘the enforcer’ 

Throughout the tri­al, there was lit­tle men­tion of Drejka’s back­ground or why he was so irate when McGlockton’s girl­friend parked in the dis­abled spot. 

He is not dis­abled and there was no one else in his car. 

But through­out the inves­ti­ga­tion, it emerged he had pre­vi­ous­ly told peo­ple he became upset when he saw able-bod­ied peo­ple abus­ing the park­ing spots. 

WHAT IS THE ‘21ft RULEMICHAEL DREJKA TRIED TO USE TO JUSTIFY KILLING 

The 21ft rule, oth­er­wise known as the Trueller rule, is invoked my law enforce­ment and taught in train­ing exer­cis­es.  It refers to the dis­tance — 21ft — a sus­pect may trav­el towards an offi­cer dur­ing the time it can take an offi­cer to iden­ti­fy a dead­ly threat and draw their weapon to stop them.  It orig­i­nat­ed from a Salt Lake City detec­tive, Sergeant Dennis Tueller, and applied at the to knife attacks. The detec­tive test­ed how long it took in drills for peo­ple to cov­er 21ft, and found that it could be cov­ered in just 1.5 sec­onds.  While it is well known among law enforce­ment ranks, it is not com­mon knowl­edge among civil­ians.  Prosecutors said it was unusu­al for Drejka to fix­ate on it giv­en he has no back­ground in law enforce­ment. 

His moth­er-in-law is hand­i­capped and he had a high school sweet­heart who was also dis­abled and is now dead, he told some. Prosecutors said he was a ‘vig­i­lante enforcer’ with a ‘pet peeve’ for peo­ple who parked in the spots improp­er­ly. ‘He’s got a pet peeve… he takes it upon him­self to be the enforcer. ‘He’s a park­ing lot vig­i­lante,’ he said. Drejka and his wife, who has not been named pub­licly and has spo­ken only on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty after receiv­ing death threats in rela­tion to the case, have been mar­ried since 2010. She gave an inter­view after the shoot­ing last year to say that she was stand­ing by him, but she oth­er­wise has not spo­ken. He pre­vi­ous­ly worked as a tree trim­mer but stopped when he injured him­self. Originally from Delaware, he moved to Florida and got mar­ried in 2010.

Since then, he has worked as an Uber dri­ver but he gave up that job when his car became ‘inop­er­a­ble’, accord­ing to pre­vi­ous state­ments from his attor­ney. Drejka was described as a fre­quent cus­tomer of the food store where the shoot­ing took place and the own­er, who was among the state’s wit­ness­es, char­ac­ter­ized him as a ‘nosy’ per­son. He is nev­er thought to been giv­en police or law enforce­ment train­ing but was quick to make ref­er­ence to the 21ft rule when being ques­tioned by police in the hours after the attack. The 21ft rule refers to the dis­tance a sus­pect may be able to trav­el towards an offi­cer in the time that they have iden­ti­fied a threat and have drawn their weapon. Drejka said he invoked it when McGlockton was stand­ing in front of him and said he thought he was going to be harmed if he did not shoot.

But experts picked apart his sto­ry, say­ing the rule did not apply, because McGlockton was nei­ther mov­ing towards him nor was he 21ft away from him. They also ques­tioned whether he posed any real threat since there was no weapon drawn. Drejka drew his weapon and fired it four sec­onds after McGlockton pushed him to the ground.