In a case that drew national attention to Florida's Stand Your Ground weapons law, a panel of judges condemned a licensed gunman for manslaughter on Friday night after considering six hours after a one-week trial.
The defendant, Michael Drejka, was accused of killing Mark McGlockton in the parking lot of a Clearwater supermarket on July 19, 2018, after arguing with McGlockton's girlfriend about a disabled parking lot. Drejka claimed that he had fatally shot McGlockton in self-defense.
In a surveillance video for the jury, McGlockton emerges from the store and pushes Drejka to the ground. Seconds later, Drejka picks up the Glock .40 caliber handgun and shoots at McGlockton, 28, as he turns away. What he thought he was doing in fractions of a second when he was attacked, "said Drejka's lawyer, John Trevena, during his final argument according to the Tampa Bay Times. "You may not agree with the law. But you, as jurors, have taken an oath to uphold the law. "
" He did what he thought he would do in a fraction of a second at the moment he was under attack.
In addition to being a test of the "Stand Your Ground" law, the case also assumed racist dimensions, with Drejka white and McGlockton black.
Violence Against Threats
Florida's Arms Act "Stand Your Ground", which came into force in 2005, established the right of gun owners to use deadly force to defend themselves against threats, regardless of whether it was possible first withdraw. In 2017, the legislature revised the law to impose the burden of proof on prosecutors to refute a Stand Your Ground claim, rather than defending the defendants to prove one The circumstances would suggest that they are in mortal danger or gross bodily injury. But it also means that the shooter could not have instigated the argument.
The sheriff of Pinellas County, Bob Gualtieri, did not arrest Drejka at first because he was prevented by the controversial law. Three weeks passed before Pinellas-Pasco prosecutor Bernie McCabe announced that his office had been officially arrested and Drejka charged with manslaughter.
Some policy or race suggestions played a role in the sheriff's initial decision not to arrest, but Gualtieri quickly dismissed these accusations.
"He told the deputies he had to shoot to defend himself. That's the facts and that's the law, "Gualtieri told Fox News at the time. "No matter how you cut or roll it, that was a violent pressure on the floor."
Culture of Racism
But civil rights activists said the shootings and the sheriff's delay in arresting Drejka spoke to a culture of racism in the state of Florida. The National Rifle Association and the Republican legislators who helped to draft the bill denied the sheriff's interpretation, and all five Democratic candidates for the governor were present at a rally on March 5, 2018, on "Justice for Markeis." Rev. Al Sharpton call for repeal of the law.
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McGlockton's family was satisfied with the verdict.
"This conviction does not bring back our son, but it does give us some sense of justice, because the criminal justice system far too often fails to allow people who take the lives of unarmed blacks to go free as if her life meant nothing, "said McGlockton's mother Monica Robinson in a statement. "We are confident that this belief will be a stone's throw from the culture of racism here in Florida."
Drejka is sentenced in October and could sit behind bars for up to 30 years.
Fox News & # 39; Allie Raffa and the Associated Press have contributed to this report.