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KATHRYN (6:43 p.m.)
Okay, one last thing. The lawyers and the judge just went over jury instructions.
The judge encouraged Drejka to talk to his attorneys about whether he should testify and asked if he was aware it was his decision.
“Yes, sir,” Drejka said.
DAN (6:04 p.m.)
After a long, tense exchange, Buffington’s testimony concludes.
Judge Bulone tells the jury that it’s possible the case could wrap up tomorrow. If that happens, he asks, would the jurors be okay staying late to deliberate? They say that would be fine.
Court adjourns for the day. Check back with us tomorrow for more updates. Thanks for following.
KATHRYN AND DAN (5:40 P.M.)
We’re still going with Rosenwasser’s cross-examination.
He’s asking now about the effects of MDMA. Buffington says euphoria is a desired effect, but it’s not guaranteed.
Rosenwasser points to an article Buffington cited that lists effects of MDMA including euphoria, well-being, happiness, closeness to others, enhanced mood.
“What mostly happens are these things?” Rosenwasser asks.
“Correct,” Buffington says.
Rosenwasser questions Buffington at length about various studies he has cited. They suggest that the common effects of MDMA include happiness and warmth.
He asks Buffington if he expected to see McGlockton exhibiting happiness and warmth upon seeing the confrontation between Drejka and Jacobs.
“Were you expecting to see happiness, warmth and contentment?”
Buffington says he was looking for abnormal behaviors, impulsivity. He says he observed that when McGlockton stepped out of the Circle A store.
Rosenwasser asks if Buffington’s opinion is that an adverse effect of MDMA is that McGlockton left his son behind in the Circle A convenience store and that he should have taken the boy with him to the confrontation.
Buffington says he’s mischaracterizing his testimony.
At one point, Judge Bulone interjected, speaking directly to Buffington: “How about when he asks you a question you actually answer the question?”
DAN AND KATHRYN (5:09 p.m.)
Rosenwasser, a prosecutor, begins a fiery cross-examination.
You would agree that McGlockton was retreating when the firearm came out, right?
When the gun came out, yes, Buffington says.
Buffington gets testy when Rosenwasser repeatedly asks him about the trajectory the bullet took through McGlockton’s chest. He says he would have to pull the medical examiner’s report.
Rosenwasser asks about how much Buffington bills for his services to testify. He charges $400 an hour.
He says has done 8 to 10 hours of work in this case.
Rosenwasser and Buffington get into a disagreement over the maximum amount the defense was allowed to pay him.
Because Drejka is indigent, his court costs have to be approved by an administrative court. The order approving Buffington’s cost allowed for a maximum payment of $7,500. Buffington says that’s more than what he charged and said it may be a “clerical error.”
Now Rosenwasser is breaking down Buffington’s credentials. Buffington also works as an associate professor at the University of South Florida.
“Is it fair to say you make more money testifying for the defense” than you do working as an associate professor at the USF?
The money goes to his practice, Clinical Pharmacology Services, he says. But who owns the practice?
I do, Buffington says.
But it doesn’t supplement his salary, he says. It goes toward running the practice.
Rosenwasser asks him about one of his credentials: president of the American Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
It’s a nonprofit research organization. He started the company, he said. It’s listed at the same address as his for-profit practice, Rosenwasser says.
It’s getting tense. The defense has objected several times. Rosenwasser continues questioning Buffington’s credentials and credibility.
He seizes on something Buffington said earlier, that he has testified for both the state and defense. Yet, based on a record of his cases, Rosenwasser said he didn’t testify for the state at all in 2015. Buffington says it’s an incomplete record.
In 2016, Rosenwasser says, he never testified for the defense in a criminal case, either.
In 2017, you never testified for the state, and 12 times for the defense? No, Buffington says. He points out a case Rosenwasser missed.
“So 2015 never, 2016 never, 2017 one time,” Rosenwasser says.
Based on this list, but it may not be complete, Buffington says.
“Would you surprised to learn that in 2018 you testified 0 times for the state and for the defense 25 times?” Rosenwasser says.
Buffington scrolls through the list. Rosenwasser is correct, he says.
Rosenwasser moves onto this year. How many times have you testified for the state in 2019?
Two times, Buffington says, although it seems like one of them was actually a civil case.
DAN AND KATHRYN (4:40 p.m.)
Buffington says he reviewed videos, police reports, other materials related to the shooting of McGlockton.
The defense begins showing a slideshow depicting a report Buffington wrote on the case. The report summarizes McGlockton’s actions at the convenience store, how he exited the store and saw a confrontation between his girlfriend and Drejka. He goes over each event with time stamps. Coy asks him why.
“I’m looking at reactions. I’m looking for decisions or judgments,” he says.
What happens next? McGlockton shoves Drejka.
“At that juncture, that really seems to be a decision point,” Buffington says. “He stepped forward, and it wasn’t until the weapon was pulled in his direction that he took two steps back.”
Buffington moves on to the autopsy summary. He reiterates that the toxicology report found MDMA and MDA in McGlockton’s system.
Buffington begins talking about MDMA and how it metabolizes into MDA.
MDA has worse psychiatric side effects than MDMA, he says.
McGlockton had more MDMA in his body than MDA, indicating that the drug was starting to be metabolized in his body.
Of the concentration of MDMA in McGlockton’s system, he says, “This value… is substantially high.”
“When you take something illicitly, you have no idea of the amount or volume you’re going to get,” he says.
He adds that it would be disingenuous to say the drug only has one effect.
“This is a very dangerous drug with a wide variety of side effects,” he says.
MDMA affects numerous parts of the brain, disrupting neurotransmitters.
“I would agree this was recreational use,” Buffington says. The level in McGlockton’s body indicates he ingested the drug not too long before he was shot.
Some effects of MDMA may result in impulsivity, aggression, reckless behaviors, impaired decision-making.
“It’s not appropriate to stand here and tell you it’s just a touchy-feely medication.”
Buffington notes behaviors he sees in McGlockton’s case that were consistent with the effects of MDMA: Impulsivity, agitation, emotional instability, paranoia, confusion, altered perceptions.
“What were the specific actions that you felt coordinated with the symptoms of MDMA?” asks attorney Coy.
Buffington’s response: McGlockton left his child in the store. He displayed physical aggression without provocation. There was no assessment of the situation for other risk factors. After being shot, he left his children and girlfriend and went back
Buffington concludes that McGlockton’s actions appeared consistent with known and adverse side effects of MDMA.
DAN AND KATHRYN (4:07 p.m.)
The break is over. Jurors are back. Judge Bulone tells them there’s one more witness before they’ll finish for the day.
The defense calls Dr. Daniel Buffington as their first witness. He is a clinical pharmacologist in Tampa.
KATHRYN (3:39 p.m.)
The state rests its case.
KATHRYN (3:38 p.m.)
We’re back from the break.
Drejka attorney Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy is up for cross-examination.
Coy starts off establishing that Goldberger is not a medical doctor. He has a Ph.D. but not a medical degree.
Coy asks about MDMA. It’s illegal? Yes. If it’s found on someone’s person it’s a felony? Yes.
Symptoms of taking MDMA also include anxiety?
No, that’s not likely, he says.
“Anxiety is not a usual symptom,” he says, citing a study in which patients were examined on the day they took the drug, and the fourth and seventh days after.
Coy asks if they could have had anxiety on the other days that weren’t monitored. He says that would be speculation. And in this case, MDMA was likely used on the day of the incident based on the amount in McGlockton’s system, he says.
Coy asks about other possible symptoms of MDMA use.
What other symptoms are there?
“Empathy for others, well-being, sense of peacefulness, increased sensation,” Goldberger says. “That’s why there’s typically a lot of touching, not necessarily sexual touching, but there’s touching.”
Coy asks about the push, which Goldberger describes as almost a school-yard push.
“It wasn’t very lovey dovey or touchy feely?” Coy asks.
“No, it was not,” Goldberger says.
Coy, through her questioning, emphasizes the drug has not been approved for medical use. Goldberger says yes, and that some of the difficulty is that the U.S. government has labeled it a scheduled substance.
Now Coy asks if Goldberger can tell how long before the shooting McGlockton took the drug.
“More than likely, at least an hour before,” he says.
The effect lasts between four and six hours, he says, but it stays in your system for longer.
Coy asks if different people react different ways to drugs. Yes. So if one person experiences the love drug feeling, someone else could feel different, right?
Well, Goldberger said, with other stimulants, “you see diminished inhibition and acts of aggression. MDMA is a stimulant, but it also has the empathy effect.”
“What about impulsivity?” Coy asks again.
I don’t think so, Goldberger says.
Coy asks about other cases Goldberger has testified in. He says mostly state cases because he’s a state employee and works 2,500 cases a year. But he also works as a paid expert.
How much? Coy asks.
My regular university pay, Goldberger says.
But you and/or the University of Florida is being compensated for you being here right?
Prosecutor Rosenwasser takes up the pay concerns on redirect. Whether you testify or not, you get the same salary? Yes.
And you’re not affiliated with any state attorney’s offices or law enforcement agencies? No.
Rosenwasser asks him to elaborate on what touching means. Kicking, hitting? No, Goldberger said. It’s typically non-sexual gentle touching.
Drejka attorney Coy is back up with a couple more questions.
“How do you explain a person going from touchy feely to aggression?” she asks
“In this situation a loved one was threatened… I think that was a common response,” Goldberger says.
KATHRYN (2:55 p.m.)
The next witness is Bruce Goldberger, Chief of Forensic Medicine, and Professor and Director of Toxicology at the University of Florida.
Rosenwasser is asking him to go over his qualifications. Goldberger says he’s testified about 350 times.
Now onto McGlockton’s toxicology report. They establish McGlockton was under the influence of ecstasy, the common name for MDMA.
Rosenwasser asks Goldberger to explain the difference between MDMA and MDA.
MDMA is the parent drug. MDA is the metabolite, he says. So, if an individual consumes MDMA, it’s metabolized as MDA. It’s not unusual to find both in a decedent, he says.
Goldberger explains that it’s likely drug concentration will change after death.
“There’s no way to freeze the concentrations or keep them static,” he says. “It will change.”
Rosenwasser asks Goldberger to explain what MDMA is.
It’s a classic stimulant, Goldberger says.
“It’s a drug that makes you feel well … it increases the empathy for others.”
It’s been commonly used in raves, parties, where there’s a desire for an increase in sensory perception, Goldberger says. And it’s a social drug.
“Some people would call it like a love drug,” he says. “It’s not a drug that causes one to be irritable or agitated or anxious.”
It’s been tested as a way to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, he says, with good results so far. The drug has not been approved for therapeutic use by the Food and Drug Administration, but it’s at the last clinical trial before it goes to that agency for consideration.
Rosenwasser asks about the amount that was in McGlockton’s system.
“It’s what I would characterize as a typical amount for someone who is using the drug … recreationally,” GoldBerger said.
It was ingested recently, but long enough ago that the metabolite, MDA, would have been formed, he says.
In the video, Rosenwasser asks, does the way McGlockton is walking indicate that he was heavily under the influence of the drug?
“He just looked completely normal,” Goldberger says.
He gives the same answer again and again as Rosenwasser asks about his actions inside the store and when he leaves the store and walks up to the Drejka.
Rosenwasser then compares McGlockton’s actions to Robert Castelli’s actions when Drejka pulls out the gun. There’s no evidence that Castelli was under the influence of any drugs.
Goldberger says he sees them both back away in the video.
“They both began backing away?” Rosenwasser asks.
“Yes…. I think that’s a normal response, is to back away.”
The state seems to be cutting it pretty close asking Goldberger to interpret what’s in the surveillance video, which was a big topic of conversation during several pre-trial hearings. In several rulings, Judge Bulone said the jury can interpret the video themselves.
The judge calls for a 10-minute break.
KATHRYN (2:25 p.m.)
After the bench conference, Judge Bulone instructs jurors to disregard any emotion they see from members of the audience.
It’s tough to tell if he was bringing it up proactively or in response to something. The side of the gallery where McGlockton’s family and friends are sitting has mostly cleared out.
Schaub and Palma position themselves in front of the jury box with a photo from the autopsy showing the gunshot wound.
Schaub takes off his suit jacket and instructs him to point out on Schaub’s body where the gunshot entered and exited. That elicits an objection from Drejka attorney John Trevena, which Judge Bulone overrules.
The bullet entered a couple inches below McGlockton’s left peck. It was recovered near his right armpit. It traveled through his left lung, heart and right lung.
“Would it have caused death pretty quickly?” Schaub asks.
The path of the bullet, he said, went front to back, left to right and upward.
Now they’re talking about the toxicology report. Schaub asks if there was a drug in McGlockton’s system. Yes, Palma says. MDMA and MDA.
Schaub has no further questions.
Drejka attorney William Flores is conducting the cross-examination.
McGlockton was 205 pounds? Yes. Twenty-eight years old? Yes. Six-foot-one? Yes.
He had MDMA and MDA in his system? Yes, in his blood and urine.
That’s all for the defense. Palma is excused.
KATHRYN AND DAN (2:10 p.m.)
Bedard is excused. The next witness is Dr. Noel Palma, a forensic pathologist working for the Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner’s office. He conducted McGlockton’s autopsy. Schaub, the prosecutor, appeared to say something to McGlockton’s family members in the gallery.
His parents, Michael McGlockton and Monica Moore-Robinson, leave the courtroom.
Palma goes over his background, qualifications. He explains to the jury what autopsies are, how they’re conducted.
Prosecutor Schaub asks about McGlockton’s autopsy. The cause of death? Gunshot wound to the chest. The manner? Homicide. Read more on McGlockton’s autopsy here.
Schaub pulls out photos from the autopsy and shows them to Palma in the witness stand. We can’t see them from the gallery. It doesn’t seem like the jury can, either.
Before the state enters them into evidence, the defense asks for another bench conference.
KATHRYN (1:55 p.m.)
Rosenwasser asks Bedard about one specific part of the video, after Drejka takes out his gun but before he shoots.
“I saw two movements previous to the shot breaking that were sort of fanning or waving to the left.”
John Trevena is now conducting cross examination.
After a brief bench conference, Judge Bulone instructs jurors for the second time that instructions on the law will come from the judge, not anyone else.
Trevena brings up topics Bedard teaches on and asks him if he recommends that police not interview witnesses of a shooting within 24 hours. Detectives interviewed Drejka and several witnesses the same day as the shooting.
“When you’re involved in what you call critical incidents, oftentimes you don’t process correctly,” Bedard says.
They may not have a full understanding of what has occurred, he says.
“Sometimes you can even create facts that aren’t necessarily there because you’re trying to fill in missing pieces,” Bedard says.
Trevena continues: You’ve been involved heavily with the stand your ground issue, right? Yes, Bedard says.
Trevena starts to ask more questions about stand your ground, and Rosnewasser objects, then asks to approach the bench. That takes about a minute before Trevena goes to the lectern again to finish cross-examination.
Trevena reads quotes from Bedard’s website that are heavily in support of self defense and protecting your life. Bedard says he agrees with them.
Trevena finishes. Rosenwasser stands up to redirect, also asking about the statements on the website.
You agree with those, Rosenwasser but also, “Anybody’s life is important, right?”
Yes, Bedard says.
DAN (1:40 p.m.)
It’s 1 p.m. and we’re back in court. Before the jury is brought in, the lawyers meet with the judge for a bench conference.
Afterward, the jury enters and Rosenwasser continues questioning Bedard about threat assessment.
“The first criteria we look for is the person’s ability to do us harm,” Bedard says.
“If I possess a knife, I could say I would have the ability to do someone harm.”
The second part of threat assessment, he says, is “opportunity.”
If a law enforcement officer is faced with a person holding a knife, an assessment of the distance between the officer and the person holding the knife determines whether there is the opportunity to do harm.
The third component is intent or jeopardy. We don’t always know a person’s intent, so we have to infer it from their actions and statements, Bedard says.
“Based on the fact that they have the knife and they’re close enough, we have to decide if they are meaning to do us harm,” Bedard says.
The fourth component involves asking if there is anything else one can do to avoid using deadly force.
Bedard uses the hypothetical example of an officer confronting someone inside a building where there is an alarm call. The person has a knife. The officer has to gauge whether there to pursue a course of action short of using deadly force, like moving out of the building.
Deadly force is a last resort.
Generally, if no weapon is involved, the first criteria is diminished, Bedard says.
If someone is moving backward, it also diminishes the threat.
Rosenwasser asks Bedard about the term “force multiplier,” which Drejka mentioned in his interrogation. Bedard says he thinks Drejka misunderstood the term.
He says a force multiplier is something that allows a person to exact greater control over other people. For example, a fence would keep people out of a particular area, allowing an officer to patrol other areas.
Bedard says the term he thinks Drejka should have used was “force continuum,” which has to do with the use of a greater level of force in response to a threat.
Force continuum is all about escalation. There are multiple levels. Verbal force is near the bottom, then there is passive resistance, after that is active resistance (moving one’s arms away), then comes intermediate weaponry (Tasers, etc.).
After that comes punches, kicks, “Things that don’t kill you, but stop you.”
The last level is the use of deadly force.
Noon update: The interrogation room
A few hours after the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton outside the Circle A Food Store, Michael Drejka sat in the corner of a white-walled interrogation room at a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office substation.
Facing him were two detectives, George Moffett and Richard Redman. They asked Drejka what drew him into the fatal argument earlier that day outside the store.
“Every day there’s somebody pulled in the handicapped spot there,” Drejka said. “I have a pet peeve about that.”
In a soft voice, his hands resting on a table at times, Drejka said he had seen a car parked in the handicap-reserved space that day.
He described how he inspected the vehicle and saw no handicap placard. He recounted the argument that ensued with the driver, Britany Jacobs, who said her boyfriend would come outside and deal with the situation. He told the detectives how McGlockton shoved him to the ground and how he drew a pistol and shot McGlockton.
A jury watched a video of the hour-long interrogation Thursday in Drejka’s manslaughter trial. Drejka, 49, claims he was defending himself from an imminent attack when the shooting happened. He said as much in the interview.
“As I start leveling off my weapon he makes his next step towards me and 21-foot rule,” Drejka said.
“Did he say anything to you?” Moffett asked.
“Negative,” said Drejka. “Not a word. … He made a step toward me. And that was that.”
But as they questioned him, the detectives revealed holes in Drejka’s recollection of events.
He told them he feared a beating was imminent.
“Why did you think the guy was going to beat you?” Redman asked.
“Because I just got blind-sided out of nowhere,” Drejka said. “What else would I think? … I’ve never been in that situation before.”
“What if I told you I looked at the (surveillance) video and at no point does he come running toward you?” Redman asked. “He actually takes a step back.”
Drejka said that would not be accurate.
Throughout the conversation, Drejka used military and police terms. He said repeatedly that he “neutralized” the threat.
He said he had a concealed weapons permit and that he had carried a weapon since he was 22.
He was asked why he put himself in the situation to begin with. If he was so concerned about the car parking in a handicap-reserved spot, why not just call the cops?
“Why bother you (the police) with this stupid thing that I got?”
He was asked if he got a look at the man he shot. Drejka said he only saw legs and hips. He could see that the man was black.
“If he hadn’t twitched, I never would have pulled that trigger,” he said.
“The feet said he was coming towards me and so did the hips.”
Toward the end of the interview, Moffett informed Drejka that McGlockton, the man he had shot, was dead.
“Thank you for telling me,” he said quietly.
He was asked if he wanted to say anything else.
“Other than the stand your ground thing,” he said. “I did exactly what I thought I was supposed to be doing at that time considering what was happening to myself.”
— Dan Sullivan
KATHRYN (12:01 p.m.)
The court is breaking for lunch. The jury will return at 1:01 p.m.
KATHRYN (11:37 a.m.)
Bedard identifies himself as a police trainer and a consultant. He’s based in Tallahassee.
Prosecutor Scott Rosenwasser is establishing Bedard’s credibility. He’s asking questions about how many times Bedard has reviewed use-of-force cases. Around 300, he says. Has he testified for the defense as well? Yes. Would he consider himself well-versed in Florida laws about justifiable use of deadly force? Yes.
Rosenwasser turns to this specific case. Bedard says he reviewed all the video and the statement Drejka gave to detectives, both the video recording and the transcript.
“Was there some terminology that caught your eye?” Rosenwasser asks.
Yes. He says he heard Drejka use some “jargon” or “police talk.” One was the 21-foot rule. Another was force multiplier, a military term. It made Bedard wonder what kind of training Drejka had.
Asks Rosenwasser: Are those terms also covered under the umbrella of “threat assessment"? Yes, Bedard says. What does that mean?
“Threat assessment is being able to observe what’s going on in an environment and identify threats. … It is an orientation to environmental cues, essentially.”
Rosenwasser asks another question, and Trevena asks Judge Bulone to approach. They’re now having a bench conference.
Bulone tells the jurors they’re going to do “a bit of legal analysis here” and gives them a 10-minute break. They exit the courtroom.
KATHRYN (11:20 a.m.)
Prosecutor Schaub is questioning Heather Meade, a forensics technician for the Sheriff’s Office.
She wasn’t at the scene but went to the agency’s north district substation, where detectives questioned Drejka.
Schaub is going through several photos of Drejka that Meade took during his interview the day of the shooting.
“Did you notice any injuries on his face?” No.
“Did he complain of any injuries on his face?” No.
She keeps going through the photos, pointing out an abrasion and road rash on one of his arms. There was also redness on his left wrist, which Meade says was due to handcuffs.
Schaub then pulls out photos of Drejka with his shirt off and Meade says there were no visible injuries.
Camareno starts his cross-examination. You said no visible injuries, right? Right, she says.
Do you recall Drejka saying he had pain in his right shoulder? Yes, she says.
Later, Camareno asks, “Do you agree that he was compliant, cooperative?” Yes he was.
Do you recall at any point Drejka using his shirt as a makeshift sling? Yes.
Schaub, on redirect, asks if Drejka ever asked for medical attention. No, she says.
Meade steps down. Next is Roy Bedard, the state’s use-of-force expert.
DAN (11:03 a.m.)
We’re back from the break.
After the jury takes their seats, Judge Bulone reads a statement of fact to them, on which lawyers for both sides agree. The statement reads: “Markeis McGlockton was unarmed when he was shot and had no weapon or firearm on his person at any time.”
Drejka attorney John Trevena is conducting the cross-examination. He’s asking about whether Drejka was injured. Drejka mentioned having pain in his arm and made a makeshift sling from his shirt.
Next, Trevena asks about Moffett. He’s no longer employed with the agency? That’s correct, Redman says. No more elaboration on why he left the agency, which is on purpose. The judge said the defense couldn’t bring up Moffett’s arrest on a DUI charge or his termination. More on that here.
On redirect, prosecutor Schaub asks Redman whether Drejka asked for medical attention. He didn’t, Redman says.
Redman is finished. Another Sheriff’s Office forensics technician is up next.
KATHRYN AND DAN (10:39 a.m.)
In video of the interview, the detectives zero back in on Drejka’s mindset.
“What’s going through my mind is is he coming back at me again? … I’m thinking he’s going to finish what the hell he just started.”
“What he would have done is just pure conjecture.”
That statement reminds me of something Drejka attorney Bryant Camareno said during his opening statement yesterday: “While Mr. McGlockton had no weapon, he was the weapon … The danger may not even be actual. It’s the appearance of danger that can cause him to act justifiably, excusably and in self defense.”
Drejka uses another tactical term, “force multiplier.” The detectives ask him what kind of stuff he reads. He says he reads a lot, but not anything specific to firearms.
“I know less about firearms than a s--t load of other things in my life.”
Toward the end, Moffett tells Drejka: “Just to let you know, the gentleman you shot is deceased.”
There is a pause. Drejka responds, very quietly: “Thank you for telling me.”
Anything else, they ask?
“Other than the stand your ground thing,” Drejka says. "I did exactly what I thought I was supposed to be doing at that time considering what was happening to myself.”
The video concludes. Now for a 10-minute break.
KATHRYN AND DAN (10:27 p.m.)
The detectives are pressing Drejka as to why he didn’t call police about the handicap-reserved spot.
“Don’t you think instead of putting yourself in that type of circumstance, that it may escalate, because people are crazy,” Moffett says, you should have called law enforcement?
“What does this have to do with … me being on my back and... ?” Drejka says.
Later, he concedes the point, but he asks: “Why bother you (the police) with this stupid thing that I got?”
They continue with this line of questioning.
Redman: “Does it ever go through your mind that when you go up and — and talking to these people, informing them of — of them being parked in a handicap spot, that they might not take that right? That this might go sideways a little bit?
Drejka: “Well, sure. But that’s why I take precautions, as well.
Redman: “Like what?”
Drejka: “Well, I’m a very careful person, and I have a permit.”
Drejka says he has carried a firearm since he was 22. He is 47 at the time of the video.
But, Drejka says, “If he’s retreating, then I don’t need to use my firearm.”
“What if he’s standing still?” Redman asks.
“Then I still don’t need to use my firearm.”
He’s asked if he could see the man who shoved him.
“I seen his legs. I know he was a black guy. That’s it.”
Onto the shooting.
“If he hadn’t twitched, I never would have pulled that trigger,” Drejka says.
He says he had no time to think about it.
“I’m not pulling it out with the intention of pulling the trigger,” he says.
“The feet said he was coming towards me and so did the hips.”
DAN AND KATHRYN (10:19 a.m.)
The interrogation video continues. Drejka lays on his back on the floor to demonstrate his actions after he was shoved to the ground.
He tells the detective where to stand to show how close McGlockton was.
“Was he charging at you?” the detective asks.
“Two steps running,” Drejka says.
“I thought kicks were coming.”
“I was thinking he was coming to do the rest of it … whatever beating was coming after that.”
“If he’s going to hit me that hard from the get-go, what else should I expect?”
“He barely made the second step before I pulled the trigger.”
“Why did you think the guy was going to beat you?” Redman asks.
“Because I just got blind-sided out of nowhere. What else would I think? … I’ve never been in that situation before.”
Detective Moffett: “What if I told you I looked at the video and at no point does he come running toward you? He actually takes a step back.”
A few murmurs come from the gallery. On the video, Drejka says that wouldn’t be accurate.
The detective asks if he heard McGlockton say anything after the gunshot.
“Just pain,” Drejka says. “That’s why I assume he was hit.”
So he made no threats that he was gonna come finish his job?”
Drejka says that was just “an assumption” — “Any smart person would” have made that assumption.
He uses more police-like terms. He keeps saying he “neutralized” the threat.
“I shoot to save my own ass, that’s that.”
Drejka starts talking about a prior incident in which he took pictures of a tanker truck parked in the same spot.
He says the driver “was wanting to come at me.”
He says he got the company number off the side of the truck and complained to the driver’s boss.
Drejka is asked about his training with guns. He says he hasn’t practiced with a firearm in years.
He says his father was a state cop for about 20 years.
“I wasn’t allowed to be a cop,” Drejka says. His father wouldn’t let him.
He says he’s practiced shooting from a sitting position but not lying down.
“I knew sitting would … come into play at some point in time.”
DAN AND KATHRYN (10:11 a.m.)
The video begins.
Drejka, wearing a green shirt, sits at the end of a table in the corner of a white-walled interrogation room. Beside him is Detective Moffett, who writes on a notepad. Redman is also present, off-screen.
Moffett starts with a few basic questions — Drejka’s address, date of birth.
Drejka’s voice is quiet. He says he parked his car.
“Every day there’s somebody pulled in the handicapped spot there. I have a pet peeve about that.”
He explains the argument with Britany Jacobs.
“She took that as an affront that I would speak to her that way.”
“I just checked for placards, plain and simple.”
“I told her it’s not very polite to park here when there’s other people that need to use this.”
“I got hit from the left side and thrown straight back in line with her car.”
He stands to show how he was standing when he was shoved.
“I’m pretty sure I landed my wrist under my gun because that’s hurting like a son of a bitch now.”
Drejka uses a police term to describe what happened.
“As I come out I start drawing my weapon. As I start leveling off my weapon he makes his next step towards me and 21-foot rule.”
“Did he say anything to you?” Moffett asks.
“Negative,” says Drejka. “Not a word.”
“He made a step toward me. And that was that.”
“I ended up standing up and made sure all of the threats were clear and then re-holstered my weapon.”
Afterward, “somebody was screaming about her kids. … All I remember is screaming about kids … All I remember’s screaming about kids.”
Then, he says, “I extricated myself from the situation completely” and went back to the car. He unloaded his gun and stored it in his car.
After he put his gun in the car, Drejka says, he walked up to the front door of the store and asked the clerk if he had surveillance video. Drejka says he knew the Circle A had nine surveillance cameras around the store.
The clerk, who was on the phone, nodded yes.
In the jury box, jurors glance from the interview video to binders containing print-outs of the transcript.
The detective circles back to when Drejka first got to the store. Drejka says he couldn’t tell anyone was in the car parked in the handicap-reserved space. He also couldn’t tell if it was still running, he says.
Then, the driver, Britany Jacobs, rolls the window down and asks him what he’s doing. He tells her he’s looking for handicap placards.
“What’s it matter to you?” Jacobs replied, according to Drejka.
“Well it doesn’t matter to me unless my mother-in-law showed up right now and needed a place to park.”
The detective asks if there was anyone in his car that was handicapped.
No, says Drejka.
“The thing I remember her saying is, ‘Do I have to get my man?’ And I said, ‘Well, what's that mean? Are we going to fight?’”
What exactly Jacobs said was a matter of controversy yesterday.
A witness appeared to say in his deposition that he heard Jacobs say, “I’m going to F you up.”
The witness said during his testimony Wednesday that he never actually heard that. Rather, it was his interpretation of what she meant.
This is Jacobs’ testimony from Wednesday: "‘Do you want me to get my man?' I said that as in maybe he’ll leave me alone, maybe he’ll back off if he knows I have somebody with me. … “He said, ‘Yes, if you want him to fight.’”
Jacobs’ response to Drejka’s inquiries: “Who are you talking to me like this? Who do you think you are?”
The detective asks Drejka why he wouldn’t call law enforcement if he was concerned about someone parking illegally.
“Because all we were having was a verbal argument between two people,” says Drejka.
“But wouldn’t it be best to call law enforcement and say there’s somebody illegally parked?” the detective says.
Drejka says she would have left before police got there.
“They always do.”
KATHRYN (9:49 a.m.)
Schaub is peppering Detective Redman with questions about his interview with Drejka. How Redman got involved, where the interview took place, whether he listened to the interview before coming to court today (he did).
The interview was “just shy of an hour,” Redman says.
Schaub says he wants to play video of the interview and asks to distribute copies of the transcript to jurors.
Interestingly, this came up in a Times interview with Mark O’Mara, the attorney who won acquittal for neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Playing the video could give Drejka a chance to get out of testifying. Here’s an excerpt from this guide to the trial:
Drejka participated in a lengthy interview with police after the shooting, but only the state can introduce that statement into the courtroom. That’s why Zimmerman didn’t testify, O’Mara said. Prosecutors introduced five statements Zimmerman gave to police and the media.
“And I’m sitting here going, ‘What are you doing?’” O’Mara said. “Thank you, thank you, thank you. But why are you doing this?”
Prosecutors should think carefully before introducing Drejka’s statements and giving him a chance to wiggle out of testifying, said Lave, the Miami professor. The jury’s perception of the defendant matters tremendously, so testifying can put the defense at a disadvantage.
“Self defense ... in its essence, is an intentional act. You didn’t kill him by mistake. You killed him because you thought you had to," O’Mara said. “You better explain away why you decided to take a life.”
In court, Judge Bulone gives the jurors some preliminary instructions before they see the video: “The court instructs you that the video has been edited to eliminate irrelevant portions that would not aid in your understanding of the case.”
He also says that even though they have transcripts, they must rely on what they hear in the video, not what they read.
KATHRYN (9:38 a.m.)
Detective Upton says he read Drejka his Miranda warning. “You have the right to remain silent," etc.
That’s pretty much all prosecutor Schaub asks about.
Now Trevena is up for cross-examination. He asks about language in the Miranda rights, emphasizing, “can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
“And despite that … he cooperated fully, correct?” Yes.
That’s all for Upton.
Next up is Detective Richard Redman, one of the detectives who interviewed Drejka (more on that here and here). The other detective, George Moffett, was fired from the Sheriff’s Office in January after he was accused of driving under the influence on his way to a crime scene.
DAN (9:30 a.m.)
On cross examination, attorney John Trevena questions Soutullo about changes he made to the video in an effort to enhance the images. He says he changed the contrast, to make it easier to see the edges of the objects in the picture.
Soutullo is excused.
The next witness is Detective James Upton of the Pinellas Sheriff’s Office. At the time of the shooting he was in robbery/homicide.
DAN (9:23 a.m.)
Our first witness today is Joseph Soutullo, a media forensic specialist with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. He collects digital multimedia evidence related to crimes.
In the Drejka case, he made a copy of the surveillance video from the Circle A store where the shooting happened and examined it. He says the video was a typical surveillance video. It could only be played using specialized software.
From the video, Soutullo extracted a series of poster-sized still images. He also enhanced the images to zoom in on the area that depicts the shooting. And he reduced the frame rate so that the video plays in slow motion.
Prosecutor Fred Schaub displays still images of the shooting video. He then plays the original video at normal speed.
We see a truck backed into a parking space, near an ice machine. We see the victim, Markeis McGlockton and his young son enter the Circle A store. We see Drejka pull up in a silver SUV and approach McGlockton’s car, which is parked in the handicap-reserve space. He walks to the back, then the front. We see him gesturing as he speaks with Britany Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend, who is inside the vehicle. They talk for several seconds. McGlockton comes out of the store, pulls up his shorts, then charges toward Drejka, knocking him to the ground.
Drejka, on his rear, pulls a gun almost instantly and points with both arms raised to McGlockton, who is shot. McGlockton runs back into the store.
It is remarkable how quickly all of the events unfold.
Schaub then plays a surveillance video taken from inside the store. We see the front counter, a clerk in a white shirt. A woman approaches to make a purchase. We see McGlockton and his son waiting behind her. McGlockton’s son has a drink. The door opens, a man appears to say something and McGlockton steps outside. The video ends.
Schaub now plays the slowed version of the video. There was some question of whether or not jurors would see the slowed version. More on that here.
KATHRYN (9 a.m.)
Good morning. We’re back in court this morning for more testimony in the state’s case.
But first, a word from McGlockton’s parents. Their attorney, Michele Rayner-Goolsby, said in a news release yesterday that the family was disappointed no African-Americans made it onto the jury.
“The victim in this case was a black man from this community,” Rayner-Goolsby said, according to the release, “and there’s elements of his lived-experience, along with cultural realities related to being a black person in the South, that will likely come up in the proceedings.”
But, she added, the jury reflects the racial demographics of Pinellas County. Recent census data shows Pinellas County is about 83 percent white and about 11 percent black.
Rayner-Goolsby also nodded to Judge Bulone’s effort to ensure the defense didn’t strike prospective jurors based solely on race. More on that from our Day 2 live blog:
The defense tried to strike an African American female juror, one of three black jurors remaining in the jury pool. Prosecutor Fred Schaub objected, asking for a reason other than race.
Defense attorney John Trevena says it had to do with her job in the medical field working in a trauma unit. He also says the defense team’s jury consultant found a few prior arrests for the woman.
The prospective juror indicated on her written juror form she had never been accused of a crime.
Judge Bulone called her back to discuss those arrests, which she explained further. She seemed to have some confusion over whether she was arrested or charged for the crimes. She left the room again.
Bulone asked whether the defense ran sheets on every prospective juror.
“The issue isn’t that she has a prior record,” defense attorney Coy said. “The issue is she failed to tell about it on the juror form.”
The judge asks again whether they ran rap sheets on every prospective juror.
“If you were genuine about this you would have done it with everyone, not just the African-American,” he said.
It got tense after some pushback from attorney John Trevena resenting the implication.
“I have to do a genuine analysis,” Bulone said. “That’s part of my job.”
They did run rap sheets, Trevena and attorney Bryant Camareno said, and they began reading out priors of other prospective jurors to prove it.
Bulone, appeased, asked about their job concerns
“Someone who works in trauma on a daily basis may have certain feelings about… someone who is shot,” Trevena said.
Bulone ended up allowing the strike, reluctantly.
“Let’s just say I’m not 100 percent convinced, but I guess based upon the preponderance of evidence here I’ll grant it,” he said.
Morning update: A second day of testimony
The trial was scheduled to resume at 8:45 a.m. Thursday before Pinellas Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone.
On Wednesday, prosecutors and witnesses detailed for jurors what happened in the fatal shooting of Markeis McGlockton. They heard how Drejka argued with McGlockton’s girlfriend Britany Jacobs because she had parked in a handicap-reserved space. They heard how McGlockton came out, walked up to Drejka and shoved him to the ground. And they heard how Drejka pulled out a gun and fired the shot.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Bryant Camareno asked jurors to consider how Drejka perceived the events. A video recording of the shooting is a key piece of evidence in the case.
Said Camareno, “While Mr. McGlockton had no weapon, he was the weapon."
— Dennis Joyce
Michael Drejka, 49, is accused in the fatal shooting July 19, 2018, of 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton.
McGlockton stopped by the Circle A Food Store at 1201 Sunset Point Road near Clearwater at about 3:30 p.m. 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.
Drejka pulled into the parking lot and approached Jacobs. 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.
Each day, our trial coverage team will live blog events straight from the courtroom.