(CLEARWATER, Fla.) — A Florida man charged with manslaughter in a fatal shooting he claimed was an act of self-defense under the state’s “stand your ground” law made his first court appearance Tuesday as prosecutors released investigative reports alleging he had a history of threatening people with guns.
Michael Drejka, 48, made a brief appearance for a bond hearing via video in Pinellas County court in Clearwater, wearing orange jail clothes and flip-flops, watched by two sheriff’s deputies from a holding cell.
Judge Joseph Bulone ordered that Drejka remain in custody on $100,000 bond and asked the defendant if he could afford an attorney.
“No,” Drejka said.
Bulone said he would appoint a public defender for Drejka, who has not yet entered a plea.
Watching the hearing from the front row of the courtroom were the father and girlfriend of Markeis McGlockton, 28, the man Drejka allegedly shot dead in a dispute over a parking space.
It was the first time Britany Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend of nine years and the mother of his three young children, had seen Drejka since he approached her and her children outside a convenience store in Clearwater and allegedly berated her about parking her car in a handicapped spot.
A security video showed McGlockton, 28, coming out of the store and shoving Drejka to the ground. The footage captured Drejka, who has a concealed-weapons permit, pulling a .40-caliber Glock handgun and shooting McGlockton.
“I can tell my kids now that the police got the bad man,” Jacobs said after the hearing.
Jacobs said she still hasn’t been able to tell her children, including her oldest son, 5-year-old Markeis Jr., that their father is dead.
“I’m still answering their questions about when daddy is going to wake up,” she said. “And all I can tell them is, daddy is resting right now.”
Bulone told Drejka that if he does make bond, he must surrender any guns he has to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, wear an ankle monitor and stay within the county. Bulone also ordered Drejka not to contact Jacobs or any member of McGlockton’s family.
Asked if he had any questions, Drejka answered, “No.”
The court hearing came a day after Bernie McCabe, the state attorney for Pinellas County, rejected Drejka’s claim of self-defense, charged him with manslaughter and had a warrant issued for his arrest.
“Michael Drejka, without lawful justification and by his own act, did kill Markeis McGlockton,” reads a complaint filed by prosecutors.
The complaint also says Drejka allegedly threatened to shoot three different individuals, pulling guns on two people in road-rage incidents dating back to 2012.
Three months before McGlockton’s shooting, Drejka, who is white, threatened to shoot a black man for parking in a handicapped space at the same store where McGlockton was shot confronting Drejka, according to the complaint.
The man’s boss told detectives Drejka later called him to complain about his worker, telling him “he was lucky that he didn’t blow his employee’s head off,” the complaint alleges.
In another incident, an 18-year-old man told Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies in 2012 that Drejka flashed a black handgun at him during a road-rage incident. The teenager told deputies the altercation started when he stopped at a light that turned had yellow, and Drejka, who was behind him, allegedly honked and yelled at him, and pointed the handgun at him from his driver’s-side window, according to the complaint.
The teenager did not wish to press charges against Drejka, the complaint says.
On Dec. 12, 2012, a woman told Largo, Florida, police that a man in a black Toyota truck, later identified at Drejka, pointed a gun at her and her passengers.
“When Largo Police talked to Michael Drejka, he stated that the female driver was driving too slowly through a school zone,” according to the complaint.
Drejka denied pulling a gun on the woman, and police let him go when they did not find a firearm in his truck, the complaint says.
Following the McGlockton shooting, detectives had Drejka reenact the confrontation in a police station interview room.
Drejka sat on the ground and pointed his arms outstretched toward a detective, according to the complaint.
“Michael Drejka directed [the detective] to back up, at which point [the detective] had stepped all the way to the wall and could not retreat any further,” the complaint reads. “The interview room where the enactment took place is a 10 x 10 foot room. Based upon this reenactment, Michael Drejka demonstrated that Markeis McGlockton was in excess of 10 feet from him when he shot him.”
During the interview with detectives, Drejka “maintained his actions were in self-defense,” the complaint says. He told detectives that when McGlockton “tackled” him to the ground he was “in fear” and pulled his gun from a holster on the right side of his body and fired once.
“Michael Drejka stated no words were exchanged by him or McGlockton. He did not see McGlockton’s hands or face. He saw his legs and said he made a twitch towards him and he fired the gun in self-defense,” according to the complaint.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents Jacobs, said Drejka should have been arrested the day of the shooting. But Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri initially declined to arrest Drejka because he had invoked the “stand your ground” law.
“The charges are only one step in this journey — to get justice for the unbelievable killing of Markeis McGlockton in front of his children,” Crump said after Tuesday’s hearing. “They understand when you look at the history of the state of Florida and ‘stand your ground’ that this doesn’t equal a conviction. All of America is watching Clearwater, Florida, to see if there will be equal justice for Markeis McGlockton. … If the facts were in reverse, nobody would doubt what the outcome would be.”
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