Pinellas ‘stand your ground’ case now in prosecutors’ hands

Family and friends of Markeis McGlockton, who was fatally shot on July 19 in a parking lot altercation in front of his children, gathered in front of the store where he was killed. The shooter was not arrested because authorities said it fell within the criteria of Florida's "stand your ground" self-defense law. Protesters gathered to voice their concerns and seek an arrest in the case. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]
Family and friends of Markeis McGlockton, who was fatally shot on July 19 in a parking lot altercation in front of his children, gathered in front of the store where he was killed. The shooter was not arrested because authorities said it fell within the criteria of Florida's "stand your ground" self-defense law. Protesters gathered to voice their concerns and seek an arrest in the case. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
Published August 1 2018
Updated August 1 2018

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday handed over its investigation into the fatal shooting of 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett confirmed his office received more than 400 pages of reports from sheriff’s investigators.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has repeatedly said that his interpretation of Florida’s "stand your ground" law precluded him from arresting Michael Drejka, 47, who fatally shot McGlockton on July 19 in a confrontation over a handicap-reserved parking space at a convenience store near Clearwater.

Now it will be up to the office of State Attorney Bernie McCabe to decide whether to charge Drejka, refer the case to a grand jury or close the case with no charges.

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Bartlett said it was too early in the process to estimate of how long it will take his office to review the case. He doesn’t expect it will take months, however, because there is video footage of the shooting and the minutes leading up to it.

"What we know about it is what everybody’s been saying," he said, "so we’ve got to kind of get up to speed on the investigation."

The incident started when Drejka confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, for parking in a handicap-reserved parking space without a permit outside the Circle A Food Store at 1201 Sunset Point Road.

McGlockton was inside the store with his 5-year-old son, deputies said, when he learned of the confrontation, walked outside and pushed Drejka to the ground. Drejka then pulled out a firearm and fatally shot McGlockton.

Gualtieri first announced July 20 that he would not arrest Drejka because his claim that he was in fear of further attack met the criteria for defending one’s self with deadly force under Florida’s "stand your ground" law.

However, the incident has inspired another wave of national criticism of the state’s self-defense law, and the sheriff himself for deciding not to arrest Drejka.

Gualtieri, who is also an attorney, held a news conference Tuesday in which he defended his actions.

"Picture a bus route with a bunch of different stops, and this is the first stop," the sheriff said. "I make a decision about arrest. The state attorney makes a decision about charges. That’s our system."

Michele Rayner, an attorney for McGlockton’s parents, said Wednesday she is "very very confident that they are going to apply the law to the facts of this case and that there will be an indictment and arrest."

"They have tremendous attorneys in that office," she continued, "and I believe that they’re going to do the right thing."

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