U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Charlie Crist are calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton.
In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Assistant Attorney General John Gore, three senators and two members of Congress requested the department's Civil Rights Division open the investigation. McGlockton, 28, was shot July 19 at a convenient store near Clearwater in what authorities have so far deemed a "stand your ground" shooting.
Along with Nelson and Crist, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., signed the letter. Hastings' district includes parts of Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
The death of McGlockton, who is black, at the hands of 47-year-old Michael Drejka, who is white, has reignited the debate over Florida's controversial "stand your ground" self-defense law. Drejka said he was in fear of further attack after McGlockton shoved him to the ground during a dispute over a parking space.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced last week his agency was precluded from arresting Drejka because of the law. The case will soon be forwarded to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office to decide whether to bring forth charges.
McGlockton's girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, retained prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, known for representing the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and other unarmed black men who died in violent encounters.
At a news conference Thursday, Crump said race was a factor in the case, pointing out that Drejka has harassed black men at the convenient store before. The Tampa Bay Times spoke to one man who said Drejka used a racial slur while confronting him after he parked in the same spot last month.
Crump released a statement Friday applauding the members of Congress "for acting swiftly to call on the Department of Justice to investigate."
Elected officials and candidates running in this year's midterm election have called for varying degrees of response to the shooting and reform of the law. Read more about them on the Tampa Bay Times' The Buzz blog.