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Day 5: The verdict / Live stream / Live blog | DAY 4: Jurors hear Michael Drejka in his own words / Facebook Live wrapup / Live stream / Live blog / | DAY 3: Testimony begins / Facebook Live wrapup / Live stream / Live blog | DAY 2: Panel sworn in (live blog) / Facebook Live wrapup | DAY 1: Jury selection begins/ Facebook Live wrapup / Live Blog | PREVIEW: Your guide to watching the trial
On July 19, 2018, at about 3:30 p.m., Markeis McGlockton stopped by the Circle A Food Store at 1201 Sunset Point Road near Clearwater. His girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, parked in a handicap-reserved spot outside the convenience store and waited in the car with two of the couple’s children — 4 months and 3 at the time. McGlockton, 28, went into the store with their third child, Markeis Jr., who was 5.
Michael Drejka, then 47, pulled into the parking lot and approached Jacobs, who was 25. He asked Jacobs why she had parked in the spot if she didn’t have a handicap-designated plate or placard. The two started arguing. It escalated to the point that others in the parking lot started paying attention.
One of the witnesses entered the store and reported what was going on. McGlockton stepped back outside, walked up to Drejka and shoved him to the ground. Drejka pulled out a .40-caliber Glock handgun and shot McGlockton once in the chest. McGlockton was taken to Morton Plant Hospital and pronounced dead shortly after. The entire incident was caught on the store’s surveillance video.
The next day, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced in a news conference that he would not arrest Drejka, saying the shooting fell “within the bookends of ‘stand your ground’ and within the bookends of force being justified.” He referred the case to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office.
The announcement sparked a nationwide debate around Florida’s stand-your-ground self-defense law and laid the pressure on State Attorney Bernie McCabe. It also touched off a conversation about racial disparities in the criminal justice system. McGlockton was black and unarmed. Drejka is white.
Community groups organized vigils and protests. Democratic candidates for governor cycled in and out of Clearwater, using the incident to showcase what they called an unjust law. Five members of Congress, including Rep. Charlie Crist and former Sen. Bill Nelson, called for the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation. Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who represented the parents of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, signed on to represent Jacobs. Martin was fatally shot in 2012 by a Sanford community watch member.
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On Aug. 13, 2018, McCabe announced he was charging Drejka with manslaughter.
Just over one year later, on Aug. 23, 2019, a six-member jury convicted Drejka of the charge after 6½ hours of deliberation.
His sentencing was scheduled for .
Drejka faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of manslaughter in the shooting of Markeis McGlockton. Drejka is originally from Delaware and later moved to Clearwater. He was unemployed at the time of the shooting but had previously worked as an Uber driver and a tree trimmer. His wife is a nurse.
The father of four died in the parking lot shooting. He had been working nights as a clerk at a 7-Eleven store and caring for his three children during the day. His fourth child was born after his death. Friends and family described him as an artist and musician whose kids were his world.
Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend, was confronted by Drejka in the parking lot of the Circle A Food Store. At the time, Jacobs was employed as a certified nursing assistant. McGlockton had just picked her up from work the afternoon of the shooting before they stopped by the store.
John Trevena and Bryant Camareno
The team of attorneys representing Drejka includes Trevena, Camareno, Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy and William Flores. There has been shuffling among the group since Drejka’s arrest. Lysa Clifton was first to represent him, but she withdrew from the case following controversy over how she approached Drejka. Trevena, of Largo, and Camareno, of Tampa, signed on afterward, and later, St. Petersburg lawyer Flores and Tampa lawyer Coy.
Scott Rosenwasser and Fred Schaub
The two Pinellas-Pasco prosecutors assigned to the case have spent their careers at the State Attorney’s Office, Schaub starting in 1985 and Rosenwasser in 1995. Both teach on the side, Schaub at his alma mater Stetson University College of Law and Rosenwasser at St. Petersburg College.
Michele Rayner-Goolsby and Benjamin Crump
The two civil rights lawyers are representing the family of Markeis McGlockton in the case. Rayner-Goolsby has made a name for herself by taking on cases involving police misconduct. Crump is based in Tallahassee and has represented clients in the headlines, including the families of slain shooting victims Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
Michael McGlockton and Monica Moore-Robinson
McGlockton’s parents were involved in vigils and protests following their son’s death and have attended nearly every pre-trial hearing in the case against Michael Drejka. They were also featured in a Black Entertainment Television docu-series about racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Bulone, a former prosecutor, was appointed to the bench in 2005 by Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. He serves as a circuit judge in the Sixth Judicial Circuit — Pinellas and Pasco counties.
All eyes on Clearwater
The fatal shooting of Markeis McGlockton in July 2018 touched off a series of events that kept Clearwater in the national headlines for a month. Here are highlights.
Markeis McGlockton pushes Michael Drejka to the ground and Drejka fatally shoots him during an argument over a handicap-reserved parking space at a Clearwater convenience store.
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announces he will not arrest Drejka, saying the case might fall “within the bookends of force being justified.” Gualtieri adds: “I’m not saying I agree with it, but I don’t make that call.”
People gather and march to call for an arrest and to protest Florida’s stand your ground law. Michael McGlockton, the shooting victim’s father, calls out, “We’re trying to get a movement on this thing.”
McGlockton’s relatives appear with their lawyers to call on the State Attorney’s Office to charge Drejka. “If not, they’re sanctioning a murder, plain and simple,” Clearwater attorney Michele Rayner says. Candidates for governor are weighing in, with Democrats urging prosecution and Republicans split: Adam Putnam supports the decision by Sheriff Gualtieri and Ron DeSantis, silent at first, later questions the decision.
Benjamin Crump, a prominent civil rights lawyer who represented the family of Trayvon Martin after the teen was shot and killed by George Zimmeran in Sanford, signs on to represent Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend.
Crump speaks at a news conference, saying Drejka was the initial aggressor and should be arrested and calling the shooting “cold-blooded murder” by a “self-appointed, wannabe cop.”
Five Congress members, including Florida Democrats Sen. Bill Nelson and Reps. Charlie Crist and Alcee Hastings, sign a letter calling for a federal civil rights investigation into the McGlockton case.
Mourners gather for McGlockton’s funeral at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church and about 250 supporters use the day to call for action. “It’s not over,” says Pastor Carlton Childs.
McGlockton’s family joins 150 people at a town hall in Clearwater where gobernatorial candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum urges voters to make stand your ground a defining issue of the 2018 election.
State Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, calls for a special session of the Legislature to change the stand your ground law, saying, “Every day that passes, we are letting down the citizens of Florida."
At a news conference, Sheriff Gualtieri stands by his decision not to arrest Drejka in the shooting. Local NAACP and Ministerial Alliance leaders decide not to stand with him.
The Sheriff’s Office turns over the case to prosecutors to decide whether charges should be filed against Drejka. Detectives provide the State Attorney’s Office with more than 400 pages of reports.
Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton holds a rally in Clearwater, calling for Drejka’s arrest. About 400 people attend as the five Democratic candidates for governor pledge to repeal stand your ground if elected.
Sheriff Gualtieri, speaking at an unrelated news conference, reacts to Sharpton’s visit: "I wasn’t there, and I don’t really care what Al Sharpton has to say. Go back to New York. Mind your own business.”
The Pinellas County Commission votes 6-0 in favor of a resolution backing stand your ground repeal.
Britany Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend, joins supporters and community leaders in Tallahassee for a rally and march to Gov. Rick Scott’s office to call for a meeting over stand your ground.
State legislators vote against holding a special session on stand your ground.
Pinellas prosecutors issue a warrant for Drejka’s arrest on a manslaughter charge and he is taken into custody. McGlockton’s relatives and their supporters are overjoyed, calling the charge a first step toward justice.
The story up to now
Want to catch up on the details? Check out the Times’ extensive coverage.
The community response
Stand your ground shooter has three-lawyer team (Aug. 15, 2018)
Judge refuses to lower Michael Drejka’s $100,000 bail (Aug. 23, 2018)
Michael Drejka released on bail in Clearwater parking space incident (Sept. 24, 2018)
Why video makes this Florida stand your ground debate different (Aug. 24, 2018)
Five new details on Clearwater parking space shooting (Sept. 24, 2018)
The court proceedings
Past gun threat allowed in trial of Clearwater parking lot shooter (April 26, 2019)
The attorney drama
Prominent Pinellas lawyer John Trevena mired in personal drama (Jan. 25, 2019)
Channel 10 anchor Reginald Roundtree fired after two decades (Feb. 8, 2019)
Drejka attorney’s ex-wife breaks into Largo law firm, police say (June 24, 2019)