CLEARWATER (CBSMiami/CNN) – A man charged in a deadly parking lot shooting said he fired because he had been pushed to the ground and he feared the man was about to “finish” what he started.
Thursday morning, prosecutors played Michael Drejka’s interview with Pinellas County detectives,
Drejka is on trial in Clearwater for manslaughter for the July 2018 death of Markeis McGlockton.
Security video shows Drejka confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend in her car outside a convenience store. McGlockton came outside and pushed Drejka to the ground. Drejka pulled a handgun and fired, killing McGlockton.
Drejka told the detectives he has a “pet peeve” about illegal parking in handicapped spots, so he confronted the girlfriend. He said he didn’t see McGlockton before he was pushed.
Overall, the prosecution and defense generally agree on the main facts of the case. But they differed in how the jury should interpret those facts.
McGlockton’s death brought renewed scrutiny to Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, which says that a person has no duty to retreat and has the right to use deadly force if he or she “reasonably believes” that doing so will prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.
But the law also states that “stand your ground” does not apply to a person who initially provokes the use of force against himself, unless he has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger. Drejka’s attorneys are not arguing a “stand your ground” case, and are instead saying the shooting was justified on general self-defense grounds.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri initially declined to arrest Drejka, citing the “stand your ground” law. But a month later, the state attorney charged Drejka with manslaughter, and he has pleaded not guilty.
McGlockton’s girlfriend testifies
Britany Jacobs, now 26, said McGlockton was her soulmate. They have four children together, including one who was born after his death.
She said that she parked in the Circle A handicapped-accessible spot last July, and McGlockton and then-5-year-old Markeis Jr. went inside the store while she stayed in the car with their two other children.
Jacobs testified that she became scared when a strange man, Drejka, came over and started angrily pointing and yelling at her about the parking spot. She said she told him she would leave the spot when her family gets back, but he kept arguing.
“He says, ‘people that park here I give problems to all the time,'” she testified.
She raised her voice as well and told him to leave her and her kids alone, and the conversation became heated.
“I said, ‘Do you want me to get my man?’ He said, ‘if he wants to fight,'” she testified.
As the argument continued, McGlockton came over from the store, said “get away from my girl,” and shoved Drejka, she testified. When Drejka pulled out his weapon, she testified that both she and McGlockton retreated.
One witness, Robert Castelli, testified that he pulled up to the convenience store and saw a man very loudly yelling at a car. He told the clerk there was an altercation outside, and McGlockton, at the counter, put his stuff down and went outside, Castelli testified.
He watched the shooting and he saw McGlockton grab his side and run toward the store, he testified. Drejka, he said, walked toward his car and then put his gun away.
“He was also muttering things to himself. You know, ‘He shouldn’t have pushed me down. What did he think was going to happen.’ Not full sentences, just phrases really,” he testified.
An officer who responded to the scene also testified that Drejka was compliant with police after the shooting.
Man says Drejka threatened him before
Richard “Ricky” Kelly, an employee at AA Septic Company, testified about a previous threatening incident with Drejka at that same convenience store similar to the fatal shooting.
Kelly, who drives a tanker, said he went to the Circle A convenience store in February 2018 and parked in a handicap-accessible spot. He went inside the store and when he came out, he saw Drejka taking pictures of his tanker.
They got into a dispute about the parking spot, as Drejka said his mother was disabled, and the situation quickly escalated.
“He said, ‘I should shoot you, kill you,'” Kelly said.
Drejka walked back to his own vehicle and then walked back toward Kelly, he testified. Finally, the owner of the store came out to calm down the situation, and Kelly then left the scene, he said.
Kelly’s boss, John Tyler, then received a phone call from Drejka about the incident, Tyler testified. Drejka said his employee had been parked in a handicap-accessible spot and had been rude, Tyler testified.
“He said, ‘If I had a gun, I could have shot him,'” Tyler testified. “I said, ‘I’m sorry that you would feel that way. I carry a gun and my training I was taught to remove myself from those situations. Don’t let yourself get into those situations.'”
The conversation continued in circles, so they agreed to disagree, Tyler said.
Abdalla Salous, the owner of the Circle A convenience store, testified that he knew both Kelly and Drejka for a long time. He recalled breaking up Drejka and Kelly’s argument, but he said that Drejka was usually calm.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)