The death of a Florida man gunned down in a case of “stand your ground” last week has sparked calls from Democratic lawmakers urging the Justice Department to weigh in on whether charges should be filed in the deadly shooting.
According to NBC News, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson on Friday sent a signed letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore asking that they launch an investigation into the incident. Florida congressman Alcee Hastings, as well as Sens. Corey Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) were among those who signed the letter.
” … The Justice Department must actively investigate violent crimes with potential racial undertones to determine if charges should be filed,” Hastings said in a statement. “Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has created a culture of impunity where communities of color are disproportionately affected.”
Meanwhile, state prosecutors are still working to determine whether criminal charges are warranted against Michael Drejka, the 47-year-old white man who shot and killed Markeis McGlockton, a 28-year-old Black man, during a dispute over a parking spot on July 19.
The deadly incident unfolded when McGlockton, his girlfriend Britany Jacobs, and their three children pulled into a local convenience store, parking in the handicapped space. McGlockton and his 5-year-old son ran inside to get candy. That’s when authorities said Drejka confronted Jacobs about the space, and the two exchanged words.
As their argument escalated, surveillance video showed McGlockton race out of the convenience store and shove Drejka to the ground. Moments later, while still on the ground, Drejka pulled out his gun and shot McGlockton in the chest, killing him.
Last week, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced Drejka wouldn’t face charges in the shooting because if falls within the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which offers immunity to those who fear for their lives and use lethal force to defend themselves. Drejka claimed self-defense, arguing it was McGlockton who started the incident by pushing him to the ground.
The slain man’s family says Drejka was the aggressor, however, for confronting Jacobs in the first place. They maintain McGlockton was only trying to defend his family.
The high-profile case has already been likened to the ruling in the Trayvon Martin case, in which shooter George Zimmerman walked away scot-free after gunning down the Black 17- year-old in 2012.
The case is expected to be turned over to the state attorney’s office some time this week.
“The easy thing, in some respects, would have been for me to arrest Drejka and kick it to the state attorney,” Gualtieri told reporters Tuesday. “The easy thing is not the right thing or the legal thing to do based upon the application of law in this case.”