Parking-space enforcer in Florida 'stand your ground' case sentenced to 20 years in prison
The Florida man who fatally shot Markeis McGlockton during a dispute over a handicapped parking spot was found guilty of manslaughter. USA TODAY
A white man who claimed self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground’’ law after killing an unarmed black man over a parking dispute was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison.
A jury had found Michael Drejka guilty of manslaughter in August for the shooting death of 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton outside a convenience store in Clearwater, Florida. Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone referred to the convicted killer as a “wanna-be’’ law enforcement officer and a self-appointed “handicapped parking-space monitor.’’
Drejka, 49, had engaged in an argument with McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, in July 2018 over parking in a spot for handicapped people without the proper permit. She had stayed in the car with the couple’s younger children while McGlockton went in the store with their 5-year-old son.
When another customer alerted McGlockton to the dispute, he came out and pushed Drejka to the ground. Surveillance video shows McGlockton backing up with his arms to his side when Drejka pulls out a gun from a sitting position.
McGlockton was turning toward the front of the store and away from the gunman when he was shot once in the torso, then ran into the store and collapsed in front of his son, Markeis Jr. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
At the sentencing, Bulone pointed out the irony of Drejka parking illegally next to Jacobs’ car and confronting her about parking improperly.
“He just seems to come out of nowhere, kind of like a superhero, to see that he enforces the handicapped parking spot,” Bulone said.
Jacobs and McGlockton’s parents spoke at an emotional hearing before the sentence was announced, asking for Drejka to get the maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
“There are no words to fully describe what his loss has done to our family,” Jacobs said. “Our youngest two children will never have memories of their daddy.”
The defense read a letter of support from Drejka’s wife, who said she and other relatives and friends had received threats and decided to stay away from the courtroom.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri initially declined to arrest Drejka, citing the controversial “stand your ground’’ law, which allows citizens to use deadly force if they fear “imminent death or great bodily harm.’’
Prosecutors eventually charged Drejka, noting in the complaint that he had a similar heated encounter over a handicapped spot with another resident three months before his confrontation with McGlockton.
Contributing: The Associated Press