ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge has decided not to reduce the bail of a white man charged with manslaughter in the death of an unarmed black man in a store parking lot.
Pinellas County Judge Joseph Bulone ruled Thursday that the $100,000 bail amount for Michael Drejka should stand. He called it “a fair and a reasonable bond under all the facts and circumstances of the case,” since Drejka faces anywhere from 11 to 30 years in prison if convicted.
The 48-year-old Drejka said he shot 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton in self-defense in an encounter that has revived debate over Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law.
Surveillance video shows Drejka confronting McGlockton’s family for parking in a handicapped spot.
McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, was seated in the couple’s car July 19 with two of their children, ages 3 years and 4 months, when she said Drejka confronted her for being parked in a disabled-accessible space. McGlockton had gone into the store with the couple’s 5-year-old son, also named Markeis.
McGlockton came out of the store and shoved Drejka to the pavement. Drejka then pulled a handgun and fired as McGlockton backed away.
Drejka has been in jail since he was charged Aug 13. His attorney John Trevena argued that he should be released from jail, saying, “He just simply wants to go on with his life with his family.”
But prosecutors argued that the bail fit the crime, and that Drejka, who has been unemployed for much of the last decade, is a flight risk. Trevena added that Drejka was injured after years of working as a tree trimmer, and had worked as an Uber driver, but his car became inoperable.
They added that he was also a threat to the community and to himself, citing four previous incidents in which Drejka either brandished a gun at someone or became angry with them over perceived traffic sleights.
During one incident where he was ticketed, he became upset with a woman and “brake-stopped” — meaning he repeatedly braked hard to force the person behind to take evasive action, prosecutors said. The 32-year-old woman had two children in her vehicle when she rear-ended Drejka’s car.
Drejka also showed two teens his gun when he became upset that they stopped at a yellow light, and also became upset with another motorist for driving too slow in a school zone.
In one instance, Assistant State Attorney Fred Schaub said, Drejka confronted another man at the same convenience store about parking his septic truck in the disabled-accessible space — which isn’t even in a legal spot according to state specifications.
“He was confronted by the owner of that business who told him he had to stop,” said Schaub.
He added that Drejka had a response: “I know I can’t help myself, I keep getting myself in trouble.”