A controversy is brewing in Florida over a fatal shooting in a parking lot, one that involves renewed scrutiny of the state's "stand your ground" law. The basics:
- The dispute: On Thursday, 47-year-old Michael Drejka shot 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton in a dispute over a handicapped parking space at a convenience store in Clearwater, reports the Tampa Bay Times. McGlockton's girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, had parked in the spot, and McGlockton had walked into the store with his young son. At that point, Drejka walked over to the car and confronted Jacobs about why they were in the spot.
- The shooting: McGlockton walked back out of the store and shoved Drejka to the ground. Drejka then pulled out his licensed handgun and shot McGlockton, who had taken a few steps backward upon seeing the weapon, reports the New York Times. You can see a video here; it cuts off just before Drejka opens fire.
- No charges: Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says he won't charge Drejka because the shooting falls within the parameters of the state's "stand your ground" law. Drejka says he felt his life was threatened, and the state strengthened the law last year to give those who invoke it the benefit of the doubt, explains CNN. The sheriff says McGlockton's step backward gave him "pause," but he felt it still qualified. The state attorney's office is reviewing the case and could yet charge Drejka.
- The law: It states that a person can use "deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself." Read it in full here.
- One view: Harvard's Caroline Light, an expert on this kind of legislation, is skeptical this one qualifies. McGlockton "shoves [Drejka], seemingly in an effort to get him away from his girlfriend, and then walks away," she tells the Times. "The video would suggest it's actually not reasonable for [Drejka] to fear for his life.”
- Familiar behavior: Circle A Food Store owner Ali Salous says Drejka has confronted "many people" over the parking spot, reports FOX 13. Adds one of those people, Richard Kelly: "He flipped out, saying he would shoot me." Jacobs, McGlockton's girlfriend, tells Good Morning America that Drejka was "picking a fight" and just "wanted somebody to be angry at."
- Another Trayvon? Drejka is white and McGlockton is black, and David Whitley worries in an opinion piece at the Orlando Sentinel that the shooting is going to inflame race tensions in the way that the shooting of Trayvon Martin did. Instead of a needed review of the state law, "we're going to get a lot of hot air, political posturing, race baiting, and media hype." He notes, however, that "stand your ground" barely factored into the George Zimmerman trial.
(Read more Stand Your Ground