‘Stand Your Ground’ manslaughter trial begins today
The Florida man who fatally shot an unarmed black man last summer outside a grocery store, sparking a nationwide debate on the state’s “stand your ground” law, went on trial Monday for manslaughter.
The case dates to last July when Michael Drejka, then 47, got into an argument with Britany Jacobs, then 24, who was parked in a handicapped-accessible spot outside a grocery store, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.
Markeis McGlockton, Jacobs’ 28-year-old boyfriend, and their 5-year-old son Markeis Jr. were inside the Clearwater, Florida, store at the time. McGlockton then went outside, walked over to Drejka and pushed him, causing him to fall to the ground.
While sitting on the ground, Drejka pulled out his gun and shot McGlockton, who had started to move away, surveillance video shows. The entire incident lasted just a few seconds.
After the shooting, Drejka was cooperative with police and had a valid Florida concealed weapons license, police said. And although he started the argument and escalated the encounter with a gun, he was not initially arrested in the killing because the Pinellas County Sheriff said the state’s “stand your ground” law appeared to give him immunity.
“He felt, after being slammed to the ground, that the next thing was that he was going to be further attacked by McGlockton,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said at the time.
A month later, though, the state attorney charged Drejka with manslaughter. He pleaded not guilty and was released from jail on $100,000 bail last September.
The trial is likely to hinge on Drejka’s expected self-defense argument. In a jailhouse interview with WTSP last September, Drejka said he was “very scared” during the incident with McGlockton.
“I’ve never been confronted like that, never been assaulted like that, if you will, ever,” Drejka said.
Jury selection in his trial started on Monday, CNN affiliates report. A defense attorney for Drejka did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday afternoon.