A fatal shooting in Florida has sparked protests over the state’s Stand Your Ground law.
It all started over a handicap parking spot.
Michael Drejka, 47, arrived at a Circle A convenience store in Clearwater last Thursday to find a vehicle parked in the designated spot sans a placard.
The SUV belonged to Brittany Jacobs, 24, and her boyfriend Markeis McClockton, who goes inside the store with their 5-year-old son.
Store surveillance footage shows McClockton walk out of the store to find Drejka confronting Jacobs.
McClockton approaches Drejka and shoves him to the ground, at which point Drejka pulls out a firearm and shoots McClockton, who flees inside the store and later dies at the hospital.
After reviewing the footage, police refused to charge Drejka, a licensed concealed carry permit holder, saying he shot McClockton in self-defense and that he feared for his life.
“After being slammed to the ground, he felt he was going to be further attacked,” stated Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
“He had to shoot to defend himself. Those are the facts and that’s the law,” the sheriff said. “This wasn’t a shove, this wasn’t just a tap. He slammed him to the ground.”
“No matter how you slice or dice it, that was a violent push,” he added.
“Markeis wouldn’t be dead if Markeis didn’t slam this guy to the ground,” the sheriff said.
“I just ask everybody to understand… I don’t make the law. But I will enforce the law and I will enforce it fairly as the legislature has directed that it be enforced. And under these circumstances, this fits within the framework that the Florida Legislature has crafted.”
Protesters drawing comparisons to the Trayvon Martin shooting showed up at the Circle A store over the weekend claiming the “Stand your Ground” law is racist and calling for Drejka’s arrest.
Demonstrators carried signs reading, “Indict Drejka! The Whole System is Guilty,” and, “Repeal racist ‘stand your ground.’”
“There was no conflict had he not initiated it,” said one protester, Stacy Jones. “He initiated it. And they did not process this man. They didn’t process him. And that wasn’t right. Why do we have to lose our children like this? Why? Why?!”
According to reports, Drejka has a history of confronting people over the parking spot.
The sheriff says the Florida state attorney will make the final determination on whether the law covers Drejka.
McClockton’s family has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday.