Florida Creep Actually Charged For Allegedly Rage-Murdering Black Guy, Can You Believe It?
Michael Drejka, the guy who shot and killed Markeis McGlockton in front of McGlockton's girlfriend and children in a Clearwater, Florida, convenience store parking lot, was finally arrested and charged with manslaughter Monday. Drejka had initially been turned loose after the local sheriff decided the shooting was legal under Florida's "stand your ground" law, AKA the Open Season on Black People Act. Now that charges have been filed against Drejka, get ready for rightwing media to declare him a brave avatar of self-defense, because after all, McGlockton shoved him, so he feared for his life, don't you know.
Drejka started the incident when he began yelling at Britany Jacobs, McGlockton's partner, for being parked in a handicapped spot -- it was one of his favorite things to do. He had previously threatened to shoot a trucker in a similar situation (allegedly), because he just really cares that much about the law. McGlockton and his five-year-old son had gone into the convenience store, and when he came out and saw Drejka haranguing Jacobs, he gave Drejka a shove. Drejka fell to the ground, pulled a gun, and as McGlockton stepped away from him, fatally shot him for being a scary black man.
Drejka, it turns out, has quite a history of waving guns around in road-rage incidents, the Tampa Bay Times reported last week. Records show he was involved in four aggressive driving complaints, including two where he brandished a gun over very minor slights. In one non-gun-waving instance, he got a ticket after he slammed on his brakes in front of a woman who then crashed into him. She had two kids in her car, but he really had to do it, because he thought she'd cut him off.
In another incident, Drejka honked at another car because he thought they should have been going faster in a school zone. Yes, faster. They flipped him off, and they said he pulled a gun on them (he denied it). The cop let him know a concealed carry permit didn't give Drejka the right to show a gun after being given the finger.
Drejka also threatened to shoot a truck driver who had parked in the same handicap space at the convenience store a month before he shot McGlockton. In that case, Drejka used "a racial slur" while yelling at the trucker, if you can imagine that. Then Drejka called the septic tank company the driver worked for to complain about the parking. He said he didn't like the way the driver had talked to him and added the driver was "lucky I didn't blow his head off." The Times story doesn't mention the race of the other targets of Drejka's road ragery.
Unfortunately for Markeis McGlockton, nobody Drejka waved a gun at pressed charges -- if they had, Drejka could have had his concealed carry permit revoked.
The Pinellas County Sheriff, Bob Gualtieri, said under "stand your ground," none of Drejka's prior behavior mattered, as long as he felt in fear of serious harm at the moment he gunned down McGlockton. This is because "stand your ground" is insane. But a couple of legal experts the Tampa Bay Times talked to said that if Drejka's case goes to trial, prosecutors could use the earlier incidents as evidence Drejka was given to irresponsibly pulling a gun on people, and that, as one former prosecutor said, the shooting was "not a product of fear, but a product of anger."
But that's the beauty of Florida's "stand your ground" law. You can be as big an asshole as you want and start all sorts of fights, but as long as you manage to be in fear for your life -- or just serious injury -- at the moment you blow someone away, you can kill with the blessings of the state and the NRA, too. Unlike standard laws governing self-defense, you don't have to retreat if you have the chance, because not resorting to deadly force is unmanly. And in a recent revision to the law, Florida placed the burden of proof on the prosecution, so prosecutors have to show the shooter wasn't in fear of harm.
Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe didn't go into any detail on how he'd come to the decision to pursue charges, but did say his office "reviewed everything, and we filed the charge we think we can prove." Sheriff Gualtieri said he supported McCabe's decision -- reading between the lines, it sounds like he was even relieved, because decisions are haaaard:
[Gaultieri] reiterated that in order to make an arrest, the facts would have to clearly show stand your ground doesn't apply, which he said wasn't the case here [...]
That differs from a normal arrest in which law enforcement officers "establish if we have the elements of a crime without considering the defenses," said the sheriff, who is also a lawyer.
"There's no other provision in Florida law that says we have to consider these defenses," he said.
In any case, now Gualtieri, a Republican who's up for re-election, can now claim he had to let a killer walk free because it's the law, but thank goodness the prosecutor took care of it. There's still no guarantee the case will ever get to a jury, however, because, as we may have mentioned, "stand your ground" is insane.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.