A white Florida man who told detectives he was irritated by people who illegally park in handicapped spots has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man outside a convenience store.
Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone on Thursday called 49-year-old Michael Drejka a “wannabe” law enforcement officer and a self-appointed “handicapped parking space monitor.”
Jurors found Bulone guilty of manslaughter in August.
Drejka confronted Markeis McGlockton’s girlfriend in July 2018 for parking in a handicapped space at a Clearwater convenience store. McGlockton had gone inside the store with his five-year-old son.
Security video shows McGlockton leaving the store and shoving Drejka to the ground. Seconds later, Drejka pulls out a handgun and shoots 28-year-old McGlockton as he backs away.
Drejka was not charged until nearly a month after the incident.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri originally declined to charge Drejka, saying one day after the shooting that the man was protected by Florida’s stand-your-ground law. The sheriff passed the case to prosecutors for a final decision, and said he supported the eventual decision to move ahead with the prosecution.
Defendant had threatened drivers in the past
The family, civil rights groups and others had been holding protests demanding he be charged, saying if Drejka had been black and McGlockton white, deputies would have arrested Drejka immediately or shot him.
The judge said he found it most ironic that Drejka drove up, illegally parked next to Jacobs’s car and then confronted her about parking illegally in a handicapped space.
“He just seems to come out of nowhere, kind of like a superhero, to see that he enforces the handicapped parking spot,” Bulone said.
Jacobs, along with McGlockton’s parents, spoke before the sentencing.
“There are no words to fully describe what his loss has done to our family,” said Jacobs, who had four children with McGlockton. “Our youngest two children will never have memories of their daddy.”
In separate 2012 incidents, drivers reported that Drejka waved a gun at them during road rage confrontations. In both cases, officers stopped Drejka and found a gun in his car, but he denied showing it to the other drivers. In one case, the teenage driver didn’t want to press charges. In the other, the driver left before the officer could get her information.