Markeis McGlockton's Family: 20-Year Sentence For Michael Drejka 'Fair, Historic'
Michael Drejka was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday for the fatal shooting of Markeis McGlockton over a handicapped parking spot in Clearwater last year - a sentence that McGlockton's family praised.
Ben Crump, an attorney for the family, called the sentence fair and historic.
"The Michael Drejka conviction and sentence was important not just for the family of Markeis McGlockton, but it was also important for the spirit of Trayvon Martin and all the victims of stand your ground murders," Crump said after Thursday's sentencing.
The prison term, announced by Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone, takes into account 92 days of time served.
He faced a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Bulone acknowledged Drejka was blindsided when McGlockton pushed him violently in the parking lot last July, and that he had no prior record. But he ultimately felt Drejka abused his right to own a firearm by provoking the fight and that he shouldn't have shot McGlockton.
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He called Drejka a "wanna-be" law enforcement officer and a self-appointed "handicapped parking space monitor."
“I’m not sure that I heard any remorse in this case and I’ve heard the defendant felt justified in what he did and that he’d do it again,” Bulone said. “That’s not really remorse."
The judge said he found it most ironic that Drejka drove up, illegally parked next to Jacobs' car and then confronted her about parking illegally in a handicapped space.
"He just seems to come out of nowhere, kind of like a superhero, to see that he enforces the handicapped parking spot," Bulone said.
The announcement came after attorneys for Drejka, in addition to members of McGlockton's family, made statements to Bulone asking for either leniency or justice.
McGlockton's mother, Monica Moore-Robinson, suggested Drejka should receive the maximum 30-year sentence.
"I don’t wish death on anyone," said Moore-Robinson, reading from a statement. "But no matter what sentence you receive, you still have your life."
"There are no words to fully describe what his loss has done to our family," said girlfriend Britany Jacobs, who had four children with McGlockton. "Our youngest two children will never have memories of their daddy."
Drejka had no one speak on his behalf, though his attorney read a letter from his wife, Cara, in which she said, "He is not the man that the prosecutors and media have made him out to be."
Defense attorney Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy told the judge that threats kept others from being in the courtroom to voice their support for her client.
"There has been an absence of Mr. Drejka, his family or friends, and it is because of obviously these threats," Jean-Pierre Coy said, "and I can tell you that the threat to not only say his family and his wife but even the attorneys on his behalf have received threats as well myself included."
For the family and their lawyers, the sentence was not just a personal victory but a groundbreaking statement.
"When we are killed by state sanctioned violence or when we are killed and Stand Your Ground is able to be used, what happens is that there's a refrain that comes that our character is assassinated," said Michele Rayner, another of the family's attorneys. "And guess what? It ended today."
In August, a six-person jury found Drejka, a white man, guilty of manslaughter in the July 19, 2018, shooting of McGlockton, an unarmed black man.
The shooting occurred after Drejka confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend for parking in a handicapped spot while McGlockton was in a convenience store.
Security video showed McGlockton, 28, shoving Drejka 49, to the ground after coming out of the store. While on the ground seconds later, Drejka pulled out a handgun and shot McGlockton as he backed away.
McGlockton ran inside the store, where he collapsed and died.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
This is a developing story. Stay with WUSF for updates.
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