Many fear that a jury will not convict the gunman who killed Markeis McGlockton outside a Clearwater convenience store in July, after a Florida prosecutor on Monday (Aug. 13) filed manslaughter charges against the shooter.
Controversy surrounds this case because, once again, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law could shield a white shooter who took the life of an unarmed Black man.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who originally declined to arrest Michael Drejka, booked him into jail Monday with a bond issued at $100,000, NBC News reported.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network (NAN), “commended” the Florida State Attorney’s Office for the move.
“Today’s charges offer a ray of hope – but our work is not done,” warned the civil rights leader, who traveled to Clearwater to lead a rally for McGlockton.
Drejka, 47, shot and killed 28-year-old McGlockton on July 19 in the parking lot of a convenience store. McGlockton pushed Drejka to the ground after he came out the store and saw Drejka arguing with his girlfriend about a handicap parking space.
Gaultieri said on July 20 that Stand Your Ground prevented him from charging Drejka with a crime. The law protects shooters from prosecution if they feared for their life during an encounter.
However, following protests from the Black community, some gun rights advocates—including lawmakers and even the National Rifle Association—argued that Gaultieri misinterpreted the law. Eventually, the State Attorney’s Office that oversees Pinellas County matters received the case.
Sharpton vowed to continue working to change the nation’s “broken criminal justice system,” calling this case “a gross abuse of the state’s Stand Your Ground laws.”
Indeed, if statistics are any indication, Drejka stands a good chance of ultimately walking free. Race has historically played a major role in these cases. People who killed a Black person walked free 73 percent of the time, while those who killed a white person went free 59 percent of the time, according to an analysis by the Tampa Bay Times.
“These laws are an abomination that systematize a method of vigilante justice that consistently provides cover to racists and bigots for murdering innocent Black Americans,” Sharpton said.