The white man who killed a black man in a controversial Clearwater shooting that’s drawn national attention to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has been charged with manslaughter and was arrested today, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office reports.
Michael Dreyka is being booked into the Pinellas County Jail and bond has been set at $100,000, the sheriff’s department said in a statement.
“Consistent with the decision making process established under Florida law in this case, the State Attorney conducted his review and decided to charge Drejka with manslaughter. An arrest warrant was issued this morning and PCSO detectives arrested Drejka,” the Pinellas Sheriff’s Department said in a statement issued Monday morning.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri had come under fire for his decision not to arrest or charge Drejka in the case. The sheriff said that his hands were tied because of how the Stand Your Ground law is currently applied. He turned the case over to Pinellas State Attorney Bernie McCabe, and McCabe filed the manslaughter charge.
“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.” Sheriff Gualtieri said in Monday’s statement.
Civil rights leaders have been holding protests and calling for a special session of the state Legislature to revisit the law, which was backed by the National Rifle Association. The GOP-dominated Legislature voted not to hold the special session.
On July 19, 47-year-old Drejka, who is white, started an argument and then shot and killed 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton, who is black. Drejka initiated the dispute over a handicapped parking space outside a Clearwater convenience store. McGlockton was unarmed. He had run into the store with his five-year-old, leaving his girlfriend of nine years and their other two children – one age three and one just four months old – in the car.
McGlockton’s girlfriend told CNN that Drejka – a stranger – drove up, parked, and started walking around her and her kids in their car. He “started yelling and cursing,” over the fact that McGlockton had parked in a handicapped space. When McGlockton came out of the store and saw Drejka confronting his family, he immediately intervened and pushed Drejka to the ground. While seated on the pavement, Drejka pulled a gun out and shot McGlockton in the chest, security footage shows. Mortally wounded, McGlockton fled into the convenience store, where he collapsed in front of his five-year-old son.
After Monday’s news that authorities arrested Drejka, state and national leaders responded:
Democratic governor’s candidate Andrew Gillum: “I’m relieved Markeis McGlockton’s family and the people of Clearwater will be heard in this horrific tragedy. I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them — and even sit-in when called upon — to make sure Britany Jacobs, Monica Moore-Robinson, Michael McGlockton, and Markeis’ children get the justice they deserve.
However, Stand Your Ground still created the environment where the shooter believed he had a legal right to murder Markeis McGlockton. I again call on Governor Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency and suspend this law before someone else gets hurt or killed.”
Bay News 9’s Troy Kinsey reported on the reaction from national civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton in a Tweet:
The @TheRevAl calls today's arrest of Michael Drejka a "ray of hope – but our work is not done," adding #Florida's #StandYourGround law is an "abomination that systematize(s) a method of vigilante justice that consistently provides cover to racists and bigots."
— Troy Kinsey (@TroyKinsey) August 13, 2018
Democratic governor’s candidate Gwen Graham:
“Today’s decision to charge Michael Drejka is a step toward justice for Markeis McGlockton — but it also exposes the fatal issues with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Stand Your Ground creates legal loopholes for murderers and ridiculous burdens for local law enforcement. We must repeal it.
“As Governor, I will lead an effort to repeal the law and examine legislation that protects those who are legitimately defending themselves, without creating a legal loophole for criminal behavior. I will also create a task force of prosecutors, community and civil rights leaders to take a look at every self-defense case where a death occurs to ensure that the law isn’t allowing criminals to slip through the cracks.”
Democratic candidate for governor Chris King:
“The state attorney’s office is doing what Sheriff Gualtieri has failed to do thus far –– seeking justice for the death of Markeis McGlockton. This community is crying out for action and the McGlockton family deserves justice, and that’s why I’ve been calling for leaders to act since this tragedy occurred. Today’s decision is another example why Florida’s broken ‘stand your ground’ law must be repealed so that justice in this case and every other tragedy can never be delayed or denied.”