A Clearwater man will not face charges after shooting and killing another man in a convenience store parking lot last Thursday, according to police.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office held a press conference Friday to announce that no charges will be held against Michael Drejka, who is white, because he is protected under Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law. According to authorities, Drejka said he feared for his life when he shot and killed Markeis McGlockton, who is black.
Drejka also has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Protesters gathered at the Circle A store Sunday to express disagreement with categorizing the incident under the self-defense law and disapproval of the way the police handled the case in general.
According to deputies, the victim's car was parked in a handicapped spot in front of the store Thursday. McGlockton entered the store with his son, one of three kids at the scene. Meanwhile, Drejka approached McGlockton's girlfriend, who was in the car at the time and said that Drejka began to yell at her for being illegally parked without a handicapped permit.
McGlockton, 28, is seen on surveillance footage walking out of the Circle A and pushing Drejka to the ground. Seconds later in the video, Drejka is seen pulling out his gun and firing a shot into McGlockton's chest, according to police. McGlockton then stumbled into the store and collapsed in front of his son.
"After being slammed to the ground, [Drejka] felt he was going to be further attacked," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Friday, according to USA Today
. "He had to shoot to defend himself. And those are the facts, and that's the law."
Florida's "stand your ground" law allows people to use deadly force when faced with fear for one's life, or "imminent death or great bodily harm." It has been at the center of many conversations surrounding violence and gun control, such as the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense and was acquitted of murder in 2012.
, a South Florida appeals court upheld the constitutionality of an amendment to the state's self-defense law. In Drejka's case, the final decision whether to pursue charges is in the hands of the state attorney's office.
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