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Michael Drejka released on bail in Clearwater parking space incident

LARGO — Michael Drejka, the man who shot and killed Markeis McGlockton in a case that set off a national debate about self-defense in July, was released from the Pinellas County Jail on Monday afternoon.

Always Available Bail Bonds posted $100,000 bail for Drejka, who has been in custody on a manslaughter charge since Aug. 13. He didn't talk as he emerged from the front entrance to a gaggle of TV cameras and reporters. An electronic monitor hugged his ankle, a condition of release set by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone during Drejka's first appearance last month.

Drejka wore plaid shorts, a white T-shirt, a gray baseball cap and sunglasses. Lysa Clifton, one of his lawyers, and bail bond agent Tina Ruffo ushered him to a Hummer in the parking lot.

"I couldn't be happier," Clifton said. "This has been our No. 1 goal from the start."

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A family liaison said Drejka's wife saved money and sold possessions to come up with the money. Generally, defendants pay 10 percent of their bail to bond agents, who then post the rest.

The 48-year-old Drejka shot and killed McGlockton, 28, in an argument over a handicap-reserved parking space at a convenience store near Clearwater. Investigators said Drejka approached McGlockton's girlfriend after she had parked in the space outside the Circle A Food Store on Sunset Point Road without a placard or handicap-designated license plate.

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TIMELINE: The Markeis McGlockton case, from shooting to stand your ground furor to shooter's arrest

McGlockton walked outside, according to surveillance footage of the incident. He shoved Drejka to the ground. Drejka drew a .40-caliber Glock and shot McGlockton, who police say had begun to back away when he saw the gun.

The next day, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said he would refer the case to the State Attorney's Office, declining to make an arrest because he said Florida's controversial stand your ground law might apply. Within days, McGlockton's death drew protests over what critics called racial injustice and a flawed law. Every candidate for governor weighed in, and the Rev. Al Sharpton held a rally at a Clearwater church.

Drejka was arrested more than three weeks later. He told investigators he fired one shot when he thought he saw McGlockton take a step toward him on the ground, records show.

Drejka's release from jail has been a key goal of the defense since prosecutors filed charges against Drejka last month. His lawyers argued during a court hearing last month to reduce his bail, arguing that he posed no flight risk, has no criminal history and can't afford bail.

Bulone turned down their request, saying it was "a fair and reasonable bond under all the facts and circumstances of the case."


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Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or Follow @kathrynvarn.