Florida Jury Finds Michael Drejka Guilty of Manslaughter, Rejecting His ‘Stand Your Ground’ Defense for Killing Markeis McGlockton

July 2018 mugshot of Michael Drejka who was found guilty of manslaughter for death of unarmed black man Markeis McGlockton outside a Clearwater convenience store.
Photo: (Pinellas, Fla., County Sheriff’s Office via AP

All hail Florida!

Six years after the Sunshine State was marred in shame for its controversial “stand your ground” law—which let George Zimmerman off for killing Trayvon Martin in cold blood—the tides may be turning.

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Michael Drejka, who shot and killed an unarmed father in front of his family in a dispute over a handicap parking space, was found guilty of manslaughter on Friday night.

According to CNN, the jury came to its guilty decision after six hours of deliberation and later clarification on instructions for deciding guilt or innocence.

Drejka’s attorneys argued he acted in self-defense and invoked Florida’s “stand your ground” law for taking the life of Markeis McGlockton on July 19, 2018, outside of the Circle A grocery store in Clearwater.

Drejka reportedly had a permit to carry a concealed weapon and later told Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office detectives that he thought McGlockton, 28, was “going to finish what he started” in a lengthy interrogation video which was played for the jury.

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However, surveillance video of the actual incident clearly showed that Drejka started the altercation with McGlockton’s girlfriend, who was parked with two of her children in a handicapped-accessible spot.

Described as a “quiet” and “regular guy” by the store owner, Drejka has a dodgy history of road rage and traffic violations and reportedly got into a dispute with another motorist for parking in a handicap space.

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So sure that Florida’s murky self-defense laws and shady jury pools would be on his side, the Delaware native never took the witness stand.

Drejka, 48, now faces up to 30 years in prison. The judge set the sentencing date for Oct. 10.

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The state’s controversial stand your ground self-defense law went into effect in 2005, allowing people to use lethal force if they consider their lives to be in imminent jeopardy.

“We are incredibly grateful and thankful to the prosecution,” McGlockton family attorney Michelle Rayner said, following the verdict. “We are grateful to the jurors of this case that they saw what we saw and I’m so proud and honored to stand here with Markeis’ family. It has been the honor of my life.”

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About the author

Karu F. Daniels

Hailing from "the thorough borough" of Brooklyn, Mr. Daniels has written for The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Essence, VIBE, NBC News, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and Word Up!