Thursday, November 15, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pinellas commissioners support changing stand your ground law

Pinellas County commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday in support of state lawmakers clarifying Florida's stand your ground law, adding their voices to the debate stemming from the shooting of Markeis McGlockton.

Commission Chairman Ken Welch introduced the resolution, saying there's "concern throughout the community" around the shooting and a lack of clarity with the law that has led to conflicting opinions on Sheriff Bob Gualtieri's decision not to arrest McGlockton's shooter.

"It's clear evidence that the law is broken," Welch said. "It's a real concern in the community — the way that law is being interpreted … back in my day a push … ended in a fist fight, and now it ends in someone being killed because of a parking space, and that's not the kind of environment or community that we want."

The resolution passed 6-0, with Commissioner Pat Gerard absent. The vote by the commission's remaining three Republicans and three Democrats was a rare bipartisan consensus in what has become a polarizing debate over the law and its application in this case.

The resolution supports Sen. Darryl Rouson's call for a special session to discuss stand your ground and changing the law to clarify when it can be used.

It also calls to eliminate protection for those who provoke confrontation and who respond disproportionately with deadly force. There is a section in Florida law that says you can't claim self-defense if you initially provoke the use of force against you, but generally legal provocation is a higher bar than a verbal confrontation, legal experts say.

McGlockton, 28, was shot July 19 by 47-year-old Michael Drejka at a convenience store near Clearwater. Drejka confronted McGlockton's girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, after she parked in a handicap-reserved parking space. McGlockton, who was in the store with his 5-year-old son, learned of the argument, left the store and pushed Drejka to the ground.

Gualtieri announced the next day his agency was precluded from arresting Drejka because of stand your ground. The case has reignited a national debate around the law and, locally, sparked news conferences, rallies and a visit by The Rev. Al Sharpton.

At Tuesday's meeting, Commissioner Dave Eggers talked about his own experience with a tense encounter in which he pulled in front of someone while driving. The man got out and went up to his window yelling. Eggers stayed in his car but wondered how it would have been viewed if he had gotten out.

"Would that have been viewed as aggressive? And then he can defend himself?" Eggers said. "There are so many gray areas … I think clarity is important in all of this."

Comments
Clearwater strong mayor fight is over but rift on City Council remains an open wound

Clearwater strong mayor fight is over but rift on City Council remains an open wound

Hoyt Hamilton asks for apology from Doreen Caudell for her words in Letter to the Editor. She apologizes but claims she was misquoted in her own letter.
Published: 11/14/18
William March: Could a late arrival in Tampa mayor’s race upset the apple cart?

William March: Could a late arrival in Tampa mayor’s race upset the apple cart?

Speculation centers on businessman Mike Griffin or former state Rep. Ed Narain possibly entering the race for Tampa mayor.
Published: 11/13/18
Is he doing a post-election two-step? Ed Turanchik  on the transportation tax, then and now

Is he doing a post-election two-step? Ed Turanchik on the transportation tax, then and now

Before the vote, Ed Turanchik was highly critical of the one-penny sales tax increase to fund transportation improvements that passed overwhelmingly on Tuesday.The former Hillsborough County Commissioner and current Tampa mayoral candidate was the on...
Published: 11/08/18
Updated: 11/09/18
Hillsborough now firmly blue

Hillsborough now firmly blue

A growing urban and suburban population has shifted Hillsborough's politics, pundits say.
Published: 11/07/18
The people’s choice?  Tampa’s Riverwalk

The people’s choice? Tampa’s Riverwalk

It's been the riparian apple of Mayor Bob Buckhorn's eye, so perhaps it's fitting , as the term-limited mayor counts down his final months in office, that Tampa's Riverwalk gets some national love.The American Planning Association awarded the linear ...
Published: 11/07/18
Los Angeles mayor hails Hillsborough transit vote on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’

Los Angeles mayor hails Hillsborough transit vote on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’

Eric Garcetti tells the ABC-TV host that the citizen-driven, voter-approved, penny on dollar sales tax for transportation is one of the midterm election's most exciting results.
Published: 11/07/18
Hillsborough voters approve sales tax hikes for transportation, schools improvements

Hillsborough voters approve sales tax hikes for transportation, schools improvements

The 30-year transportation measure will add a penny on the dollar to the sales tax and raise about $276 million per year. Voters were equally enthusiastic about a 10-year, half-cent sales tax for Hillsborough County Schools.
Published: 11/07/18
Hillsborough Commission District 5 election results: Mariella Smith unseats Victor Crist

Hillsborough Commission District 5 election results: Mariella Smith unseats Victor Crist

Democrats now control a majority on the Hillsborough County Commission for the first time since 2004.
Published: 11/06/18
Updated: 11/07/18
Florida House District 65 results: Incumbent Chris Sprowls defeats first-timer Sally Laufer

Florida House District 65 results: Incumbent Chris Sprowls defeats first-timer Sally Laufer

Sprowls, a north Pinellas Republican, won his third term in office. He remains on track become Speaker of the Florida House for the 2021-22 legislative session.
Published: 11/06/18
Updated: 11/07/18
Tampa Bay Judicial Races: Fuson, Allen, Gutman win in Hillsborough, Ellis wins Pinellas-Pasco

Tampa Bay Judicial Races: Fuson, Allen, Gutman win in Hillsborough, Ellis wins Pinellas-Pasco

Clear victors emerge in all four Tampa Bay judicial races
Published: 11/06/18