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Florida Man Charged With Manslaughter In Fatal Parking Lot Shooting


Florida's self-defense law known as "stand your ground" is again in the national spotlight. Prosecutors there today charged a man with manslaughter for his role in a fatal parking lot shooting. That contrasts with the county sheriff's conclusion last month. He declined to arrest Michael Drejka, citing "stand your ground." But now, more than three weeks later, Drejka has been arrested and his bond set at a hundred thousand dollars. NPR's Greg Allen reports.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: It happened at the Circle A food store near Clearwater. Britany Jacobs parked her vehicle in a handicapped spot while her boyfriend, 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton, went inside with her 5-year-old son. Michael Drejka, who's 47, approached Jacobs and got into a heated argument with her for parking in the space without a permit. Hearing about the altercation, McGlockton came out of the store and pushed Drejka to the ground. Seconds later, Drejka pulled out a handgun and shot McGlockton, killing him. After interviewing Drejka, sheriff's deputies decided that under Florida's "stand your ground" law Drejka was justified in using deadly force.


BOB GUALTIERI: He believed that McGlockton was going to come back at him.

ALLEN: That's Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who held a news conference the following day to explain the decision.


GUALTIERI: And he fired in a very short amount of time, a few seconds - four seconds, probably, somewhere in that range. That is within the bookends of "stand your ground."

ALLEN: Under Florida's "stand your ground" law, people can use deadly force to defend themselves when they feel their lives are in danger. What's more, they're immune from arrest or prosecution unless police can prove they weren't acting in self-defense. But today the prosecutor for Pinellas County, state attorney Bernie McCabe, charged Drejka with manslaughter. McCabe says he received the case a week and a half ago.

BERNIE MCCABE: I instructed that we go ahead and interview all of the witnesses, review all of the reports, review the various videos of the scene, the actions and the interview of the defendant. And when all that was done, I made the legal decision that this is the charge that we can prove.

ALLEN: McCabe declined to discuss the details of the case, saving that for the trial. Markeis McGlockton's family held a news conference today where they said they welcomed the decision. One of their lawyers, Michele Rayner, called it the first step on a long road.


MICHELE RAYNER: Our ultimate goal is a conviction in this case. We do stand behind the state attorney's decision to charge as manslaughter. We do believe it's the correct charge in order to sustain a conviction.

ALLEN: The case has drawn the attention of civil rights activists including local ministers, the NAACP and Al Sharpton. They see in the shooting of McGlockton, an African-American, by Drejka, a white man claiming self-defense, parallels with George Zimmerman's 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin and one more reason to reconsider Florida's "stand your ground" law. Greg Allen, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.