According to NBC News, a state judge has denied the motion to lower the bail of Michael Drejka, who fatally shot a man over a parking space dispute in Clearwater, Florida, last month.
Drejka was charged with manslaughter for killing Markeis McGlockton outside of a convenience store after getting into a verbal fight with McGlockton’s girlfriend. Drejka tested the limits of the state’s “stand your ground” laws by claiming that he feared for his life when he shot and killed McGlockton. However, a video of the incident shows that McGlockton was unarmed and backing away from Drejka when he decided to pull the trigger.
On Thursday, Drejka’s public defenders requested that their client’s $100,000 bond be reduced based on Florida’s “stand your ground” statute. The Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court judge, however, refused to lower Drejka’s bail. “The thing about a manslaughter, of course,” said Judge Joseph Bulone, “is there’s an alleged victim who is dead. I did consider all of the facts that were alleged in the case.”
During the bail hearing, the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office took the opportunity to establish a pattern of violence by citing multiple incidents prior to the shooting, in which Drejka grew aggressive and threatened other drivers by waving around his firearm.
In one case, Drejka got into a fight with yet another driver for parking a tanker truck in the same exact handicap parking space. Drejka also allegedly yelled a series of racial slurs at the driver, Richard Kelly, who, like McGlockton, is also black. According to prosecutors, Drejka called the owner of Kelly’s truck company later on to complain, saying at one point that he “could have blown his head off.”
The McGlockton family’s attorney, Kelly McCabe, who was also present at the bail hearing, told reporters that Florida’s “stand your ground” law is also being put on trial. “It sends a message that you cannot just kill people. You can not be a vigilante,” McCabe said. “You cannot just kill someone in front of his children and his partner and get away with this.”
Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which was passed in 2005, allows individual gun owners to use deadly force, i.e. shoot, something or someone that poses a genuine, immediate threat to one’s life. While prosecutors are insistent that Drejka’s life was not in immediate danger, rendering the law inapplicable to his case, Drejka is still being charged with manslaughter, rather than second-degree murder.
Drejka is expected to have his pre-trial hearing on October 19.