Florida gunman who killed man in parking row charged

  • Published
Media caption,

Stand your ground: CCTV captured the shooting in a Florida car park

A white man who shot and killed an unarmed black man over a parking dispute in Florida has now been charged with manslaughter, prosecutors say.

Michael Drejka, 47, shot Markeis McGlockton after a fight broke out over a disabled parking space on 19 July.

He was not immediately arrested due to the state's "stand your ground" law, which protects those claiming self-defence after a violent incident.

Police arrested him on Monday. His bail has been set at $100,000 (£78,000).

Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe said his office "filed the charge we think we can prove", the Tampa Bay Times newspaper reported.

He did not offer further comment about the case.

According to the arrest warrant, viewed by the Times, police noted Mr McGlockton had immediately stepped back "when confronted with the firearm" and turned away from Mr Drejka.

Investigators also found Mr Drejka was around 12 ft (3.6m) away from Mr McGlockton when he shot him.

Mr McGlockton's family said in a statement that the arrest was "a small measure of comfort in our time of profound mourning," US media reported.

"While this decision cannot bring back our partner, our son, our father, we take solace in knowing our voices are being heard as we work for justice.

"This man killed Markeis in cold blood, without a second thought about the devastating impact his actions would have on our family, but this charge gives us a measure of hope that the truth will win and justice will prevail in the end."

The family's lawyer, Benjamin Crump - who also represented the family of Trayvon Martin - said in a statement on Monday "it's about time" Mr Drejka was arrested.

"This self-appointed wannabe cop attempted to hide behind 'Stand Your Ground' to defend his indefensible actions, but the truth has finally cut through the noise," Mr Crump said.

Image source, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
Image caption,
Michael Drejka had a valid concealed weapons licence, police say

Florida's "stand your ground" or "shoot first" law gives protection from criminal prosecution or civil liability to people who claim self-defence after a shooting or violent incident.

Police faced criticism for the initial decision not to charge Mr Drejka in July.

"I don't make the law. I enforce the law," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri had said at the time.

"I'm going to enforce it the way it's written. Others can have the debate about whether they like it or not."

Mr Gualtieri had forwarded the case to the state attorney's office on 1 Aug.

In a statement on Monday, Mr Gualtieri said: "I support the State Attorney's decision and will have no further comment as the case continues to work its way through the criminal justice system."

Image source, Justice for Markeis McGlockton/Facebook
Image caption,
Mr McGlockton's family said he was trying to protect them when he shoved Mr Drejka

What happened?

Mr Drejka was shoved over by Mr McGlockton after he confronted his girlfriend who was parked in a space for the disabled.

Footage of the shooting was recorded on CCTV outside the convenience store and shows Mr McGlockton rushing back inside the building while clutching his chest.

Witnesses say he then collapsed before shoppers called 911. He was taken to hospital in the city of Clearwater and pronounced dead.

The police say Mr Drejka was co-operative when they arrived and had a valid concealed weapons licence.