Florida sheriff defends his decision not to arrest shooter in 'stand your ground' case

A Florida sheriff defended his decision not to arrest a man who fatally shot another man during a heated arg...

Posted: Aug 2, 2018 2:26 PM
Updated: Aug 2, 2018 2:26 PM

A Florida sheriff defended his decision not to arrest a man who fatally shot another man during a heated argument nearly two weeks ago, saying the state's controversial "stand your ground" law prevented him from doing so.

"To arrest, it must be so clear that, as a matter of law, 'stand your ground' does not apply in any way to the facts and circumstances that you're presented with," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Tuesday.

Arrests

Continents and regions

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal defenses

Criminal law

Criminal offenses

Florida

Law and legal system

Law enforcement

Military

Military weapons

Missile systems

North America

Self defense cases

Shootings

Southeastern United States

Stand your ground laws

The Americas

United States

Weapons and arms

"That is not the situation here. The facts are not so clear that this is absolutely outside the boundaries of 'stand your ground.' "

His comments came in response to backlash from the family and girlfriend of the slain man and from some Republicans about his decision not to arrest Michael Drejka. Drejka, who is white, shot and killed Markeis McGlockton, who is black, on July 19 outside a convenience store in Clearwater.

The shooting took place after an argument erupted between Drejka, 47, and Britany Jacobs, 24, over the use of a handicapped-accessible parking spot. McGlockton, Jacobs' boyfriend, walked over to Drejka and gave him a "violent push," Gualtieri said at the time.

In response, Drejka pulled out a handgun while on the ground and shot McGlockton in the chest. McGlockton was later pronounced dead.

Gualtieri, who is a licensed attorney, gave an extensive legal explanation of the issue Tuesday. He went line by line through the "stand your ground law" and court precedent to explain that it largely takes the arrest out of police hands.

"My decision not to arrest is merely doing what Florida law compels," he said.

The investigation in the case is ongoing, he said. Once complete, it will be turned over to the county's state attorney for possible charges.

But in the meantime, Gualtieri said he was correct not to make an arrest.

"A whole bunch of people have offered a whole bunch of different opinions," he said. "I'd suggest to you that the mere fact that so many people have so many different opinions validates the decision not to arrest Drejka (at) this stage."

What is 'stand your ground'?

Florida's "stand your ground" law, perhaps the strongest in the country, grants immunity to the person acting in self-defense and puts the burden of proof on the state.

"Nowhere else is there anything like this in criminal law where somebody asserts something and the burden then shifts to the other person," Gualtieri said in a press conference last week. "That's a very heavy standard, and it puts the burden on the state."

He said the state's "stand your ground" law created a standard of how a reasonable person would react that was "largely subjective."

However, several state Republicans questioned Gualtieri's interpretation of the law in comments this week to Politico.

Republican state Sen. Dennis Baxley and others quoted in Politico criticized Gualtieri's view of the law, saying the reasonable person standard is objective, not subjective.

Gualtieri said Tuesday that the reasonable person standard is technically objective "but it has to be viewed through the lens of the person under the circumstances of the time, which inherently has some subjective components to it."

Baxley told CNN he was "very satisfied" with the sheriff's clarification and has full confidence in law enforcement in these incidents.

Jacobs, McGlockton's girlfriend, told CNN affiliate WFLA in Tampa that she thought Drejka was in the wrong in the fatal shooting.

"It shouldn't be right because he came approaching me," she said, "and all Markeis did was try to protect us and protect (his) family."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15229

Reported Deaths: 723
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds99925
Lauderdale73561
Madison72023
Scott65012
Neshoba63038
Jones59825
Forrest55338
DeSoto5337
Rankin4217
Leake42112
Holmes39728
Copiah3104
Jackson30513
Attala29216
Yazoo2734
Newton2714
Leflore25831
Harrison2577
Lincoln25628
Monroe25525
Lamar2355
Oktibbeha23512
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Pike20211
Adams19615
Noxubee1856
Wayne1771
Warren1719
Washington1687
Covington1652
Bolivar16011
Jasper1574
Smith15011
Lee1496
Kemper14411
Clarke14318
Chickasaw13312
Lafayette1314
Coahoma1214
Carroll11711
Marion1159
Clay1124
Winston1121
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Yalobusha905
Hancock9011
Tate891
Grenada893
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Union835
Marshall833
Montgomery831
Sunflower813
Jefferson Davis772
Tippah7311
Panola703
Webster691
Calhoun644
Humphreys607
Amite601
Walthall550
Tunica543
Prentiss523
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Tishomingo320
Pontotoc323
Stone300
Franklin282
Tallahatchie271
Quitman260
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene121
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 61°
Columbus
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 60°
Oxford
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 55°
Starkville
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 55°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather