CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge on Tuesday kept bond at $100,000 for a man charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a man who assaulted him outside a convenience store in a dispute over parking.
Judge Joseph Bulone in the Pinellas County court on Tuesday said that if Michael Drejka posts bail, he must surrender all of his guns to the sheriff, wear an ankle monitor and not leave the county. He said he didn’t have the money to hire a private attorney, which means a public defender will be appointed. Drejka appeared in court from the county jail via video.
The 48-year-old Drejka was charged with manslaughter in the July 19 shooting of Markeis McGlockton, a 28-year-old black man, during a parking lot confrontation. That videotaped shooting revived debate over Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law.
McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, was seated in the couple’s car July 19 with two of their children, ages 3 years and 4 months, when she said Drejka confronted her for being parked in a handicapped-accessible space. McGlockton had gone into the store with the couple’s 5-year-old son, also named Markeis.
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“I can tell my kids now that the police got the bad man,” Jacobs said, following the brief bond hearing. She was one of several family members who attended. “I’m still answering their questions about when daddy is going to wake up. And all I can tell them is, daddy is resting right now.”
Video showed McGlockton leaving the store and shoving Drejka to the ground. Seconds later, Drejka pulls a handgun and shoots McGlockton as he backs away. McGlockton then runs back into the store clutching his chest. Witnesses said he collapsed in front of young Markeis, who was waiting inside.
“The charges are only one step in this journey to get justice for the unbelievable killing of Markeis McGlockton in front of his children,” said Benjamin Crump, the family’s attorney. “They understand when you look at the history of the state of Florida and stand your ground that this doesn’t equal a conviction. All of America is watching Clearwater, Florida to see if there will be equal justice for Markeis McGlockton … If the facts were in reverse, nobody would doubt what the outcome would be.”
In court documents, McCabe and Pinellas sheriff’s Detective George Moffett cited three other drivers who said Drejka threatened them during confrontations that preceded his run-in with McGlockton. Two of them said he displayed a gun.
A black man who drives a septic truck told Moffett he parked in the same handicapped-accessible spot three months before McGlockton’s shooting, the documents show. The man said Drejka began yelling at him and said he would shoot him. The driver said he left, but as he pulled away Drejka shouted racial slurs. The man’s boss told Moffett that Drejka later called, telling him “that he was lucky he didn’t blow his employee’s head off.”
In separate 2012 cases, drivers reported that Drejka waved a gun at them during road rage confrontations. In both cases, officers stopped Drejka and found a gun in his car, but he denied showing it to the other drivers.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri originally declined to charge Drejka, saying one day after the shooting that the man was protected by Florida’s stand-your-ground law. The sheriff passed the case to prosecutors for a final decision.
The family, civil rights groups and others had been holding protests demanding Drejka be charged.
Crump had represented the family of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black youth who was fatally shot in 2012 by George Zimmerman, a Hispanic man who was his Orlando-area neighborhood’s watch captain. Zimmerman had confronted Martin, who was walking back to the home of his father’s fiancee after making a purchase at a convenience store. Zimmerman said he thought Martin might be a burglar casing homes. They fought and Zimmerman fatally shot him. There were no eyewitnesses or videos. Zimmerman said he feared Martin, who was unarmed, was about to kill him and a jury acquitted him of second-degree murder.
Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale.