A white Florida man on trial for manslaughter insisted he fired in self-defense when 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton shoved him outside a Clearwater convenience store, then took several steps toward him.
However, surveillance video of the July 2018 incident blows a hole in defendant Michael Drejka‘s claims and shows McGlockton retreating moments before Drejka, 49, fires the fatal shot.
“What happens if I told you that I looked at the video and at no time and point does he come running up toward you,” an officer tells the suspect in an interview the day of the shooting last year, adding, “He actually takes a step back.”
“I would disagree,” Drejka replied.
Clips of that police interview, along with Drejka’s reenactment of the fatal incident, were played in court by the prosecution Thursday as part of his trial, CNN reported. Like Drejka, the defense argued the suspect was only protecting himself after McGlockton knocked him to the ground.
The confrontation between the two men unfolded July 19, 2018, when an irate Drejka confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, after she parked in a handicap-accessible space but didn’t have the proper permit. McGlockton and the couple’s 5-year-old son were inside the convenience store as Jacobs and Drejka argued outside.
In court Wednesday, Jacobs testified that she “just wanted this man to leave … me and my babies alone,” recalling how Drejka scolded her for parking in that particular spot.
The young father eventually exits the store to find Drejka arguing with his girlfriend. He then approaches the enraged man and forcibly pushes him to the ground. That’s when Drejka, struggling to get up, draws his weapon and fires at McGlockton, killing him, according to surveillance footage.
After the shooting Drejka, 47, told deputies that he feared for his life and shot in self-defense.
“I shoot to save my own ass, and that’s that,” he said in a police interview.
The Florida man also cited the state’s controversial “stand your ground law,” which allows people to respond to threats with lethal force without fear of prosecution. In the interview, he told deputies “I did exactly what I thought I was supposed to be doing at that time considering, what was happening to myself,” adding that he feared McGlockton would continue attacking him.
Pinellas County authorities agreed and initially declined to charge Drejka in the incident, arguing that the shooting “fell within the bookends” of the controversial statute. A month later, the state attorney’s office would charge him with manslaughter.
Drejka’s lawyers have decided against using the “stand you ground” defense, which, if successful, would make him immune to prosecution, and have instead chosen to stick with arguing self-defense. His attorney is expected to call a self-defense expert witness to testify, among other witnesses, local station WFLA reported.
Witness testimony in the case continued Friday.
Drejka’s trial is expected to last two weeks, and if convicted he faces up to 30 years behind bars.
Watch more in the video below.