A white man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting dead an unarmed black man outside a Florida convenience store after an argument over a handicap parking space.
Michael Drejka, 49, was sentenced on Thursday over the July 2018 death of 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton outside the store in Clearwater.
Drejka had tried to use Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law as his defense.
Judge Joseph Bulone on Thursday called Drejka a ‘wanna-be’ police officer and a self-appointed ‘handicapped parking space monitor’.
Drejka, who was found guilty of manslaughter in August, had told detectives he was irritated by people who illegally park in handicapped spots when he encountered McGlockton last year.
Michael Drejka, 49, was sentenced on Thursday to 20 years in prison over the July 2018 death of 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton outside the store in Clearwater, Florida. Photo on left courtesy of WFLA
He confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend Britany Jacobs for parking in a handicapped space at the Clearwater convenience store.
McGlockton had gone inside the store with his five-year-old son.
As the confrontation continued, a customer went into the store and alerted McGlockton.
Security video captured McGlockton leaving the store and shoving Drejka to the ground.
Seconds later, Drejka pulled out a handgun and shot McGlockton as he backed away.
The judge said he found it most ironic that Drejka drove up, illegally parked next to Jacobs’ car and then confronted her about parking illegally in a handicapped space.
‘He just seems to come out of nowhere, kind of like a superhero, to see that he enforces the handicapped parking spot,’ Bulone said.
Ahead of his sentencing, McGlockton’s girlfriend and the mother of his four children, Britany Jacobs, urged the judge to impose a maximum sentence of 30 years.
Drejka had confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend for parking in a handicap parking spot. Security video captured McGlockton leaving the store and shoving Drejka to the ground. Seconds later, Drejka (on the ground) pulled out a handgun and shot McGlockton as he backed away
Security video captured McGlockton leaving the store and shoving Drejka to the ground after another customer alerted him to the confrontation outside
‘There are no words to fully describe what his loss has done to our family,’ she said.
‘Our youngest two children will never have memories of their daddy.
‘The defendant’s weakness, his cowardice and his anger are the reasons Markeis is dead.
Drejka had tried to use Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law as his defense for shooting McGlockton. He was found guilty of manslaughter in August
‘Think about raising four children alone without their daddy. Without Markeis my world can never be whole again.’
During the trial, Drejka’s attorney argued that he thought he was in danger when he was pushed to the ground.
But prosecutors said surveillance footage of the incident proved that Drejka fired without assessing the risks.
They pointed out that McGlockton could be seen backing away when he saw Drejka’s gun.
‘This is really a cut and dry case. There’s no misinterpreting that Markeis McGlockton was going backwards,’ prosecutors argued.
‘You cannot shoot an unarmed retreating man, regardless of if he’s pushed you.’
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.
Drejka is shown lying on the floor during his police interview, reenacting shooting the victim
‘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.
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.
Prosecutors played in court a video of his police interview where he told investigators: ‘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.
‘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.