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Handicap Spot Shooter Sentenced to 20 Years

Handicap Spot Shooter Sentenced to 20 Years

Michael Drejka, the Florida man who shot and killed Markeis McGlockton after being physically attacked by McGlockton in a dispute over a handicap parking spot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NWa_DhECpc

Michael Drejka, the Florida man who shot and killed Markeis McGlockton after being physically attacked by McGlockton in a dispute over a handicap parking spot, was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison. He was convicted in August of manslaughter.

This case always seemed to me to be sufficiently ambiguous that an acquittal was very possible at trial if the criminal charge against Drejka was vigorously and skillfully defended. Unfortunately for Drejka, my observation of his legal counsel at trial revealed neither a vigorous nor skillful defense. Faced with an aggressive prosecution, such a weak defense is almost certain to result in a conviction.

That said, a manslaughter conviction was certainly never outside the realm of possibility, and such is the case almost any time a person defends themselves with deadly force. Arming oneself with a firearm for serious social purposes bring with it considerable power—life-and-death control over one’s immediate environment against threats—but also an enormous responsibility.

And while one does not need to ask for permission before using that gun in self-defense, the inspection of one’s use-of-force will be subject to after the fact more than makes up for the necessary freedom of action prior.

I always caution clients and students that the moment someone engages them in a physical confrontation they’ve just incurred two risks they weren’t incurring a moment before.

A greater than zero risk of dying in that fight.

A greater than zero risk of spending much of the rest of their life in prison.

Through training and practice and preparation we can reduce both those risks awfully close to zero. But they are never zero.

Make sure the stakes you’re fighting for are worth the risks you’re incurring, folks.

We’ll never know for certain what was going through Drejka’s head when he fired that fatal shot. If he genuinely believed that McGlockton was about to continue a sustained attack upon him after violently knocking him to the ground, then perhaps the shot was the best of the bad options available to him. Being alive in prison beats being dead or maimed in a convenience store parking lot.

On the other hand, if McGlockton was, in fact, attempting to disengage from the physical confrontation he’d initiated, and Drejka was aware that the imminent threat was over, pressing that trigger will certainly be a decision he will now regret for a very long time, indeed.

A closing thought for those who claim that “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by six” is an adequate mindset for dealing with criminal predators—believing that those are the only two options on the table is not a considered opinion.

The actual options on the table are at least three: carried by six, convicted by 12, or acquitted by 12.

McGlockton initiated a physical confrontation and suffered the first of those options—carried by six. Drejka used deadly force in response to McGlockton’s attack, in a manner that the jury found to be unjustified, and he now suffers the second of those options—convicted by 12. (Technically, Drejka was convicted by six jurors under Florida criminal procedure, but you understand my point.)

I’d suggest that both men lost that fight.

Only the third of those options—acquitted by 12, or at least acting so within the legal boundaries that such an outcome is apparent—is what anybody would call a “win,” and optimizing for that outcome takes a better informed and thought-out self-defense strategy than a childish “better to be” cliche.

The good news is that preparing to be well-positioned to win that legal fight, to be hard to convict, is not hard to do. I’m referring here not to learning any legal tricks or magic words to say to the police after the fact. I’m simply talking about understanding where the legal boundaries for use-of-force are and staying within them. If all you do is regularly read my own blog posts on the subject, which you can do almost daily for no cost whatever, you’ll gain yourself an excellent education in the scope and limits of use-of-force law.

Anyone who believes that they are prepared to use deadly force in defense of themselves or others but is not willing to make even such a modest, cost-free effort … well, as I joke with my wife, somebody has to pay for my costly German motorcycle habit. It might as well be people who “volunteer” by choosing to remain ignorant of where those actual legal boundaries lie, and how to best say within them.

In closing, as we say here at Law of Self Defense, remember:

You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.

Know the law so you’re hard to convict.

Stay safe.

—Andrew

Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC
Law of Self Defense CONSULT Program

Attorney Andrew F. Branca specializes in the use-of-force law of the United States. His firm, Law of Self Defense LLC provides use-of-force legal advisory services to attorneys and educational resources such as books and classes to the general public.

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Comments

Paul In Sweden | October 11, 2019 at 3:11 pm

smh…

Sentence seems kind of stiff, given that the female cop in Texas who murdered her neighbor received ten years for a much less understandable crime.

Legal Beagles, a little help here.

I fail to see the difference from an actual outcome of manslaughter and 2nd-degree murder in sentencing

Years ago I would get predawn coffee in a large strip mall in Florida. The place was virtually deserted. Sometimes there was a fellow – perhaps similar to Drejka, I’ll call Mr. Pickup. This self appointed enforcer would honk at people and box their vehicles in with his pickup truck after the offender moved through the first stop sign inside the shopping center.

One day he did it to an older gentleman who did not stop to Mr. Pickup’s liking. Mr. Pickup taunted him with the appellation old man. The old man pulled out a badge and said “You are about to have a very bad day”. Other younger policemen came moments later and escorted Mr. Pickup away. That was the last we saw of Mr. Pickup.

Was Drejka a Mr. Pickup?

Two hotheads. They both paid a heavy price.

Close The Fed | October 11, 2019 at 5:09 pm

I assume the writer’s assessment of the defense is accurate, because I must say, if someone had pushed me to the ground like that, from where I would be sitting, it would be difficult to ascertain exactly what his movements thereafter meant. The aggressor was still near the side of the car, still very close, and I’d be very alert and concerned about where he might head next.

Sounds like weak defense.

Is Florida a “red flag” State? If so, the convicted guy might have been able to turn the other antagonist in and have the cops kick in his door at 5AM and kill him for free. That kind of shit is starting to happen now.

Wow! Absolutely no credit for being physically assaulted. That seems a little strange to me. If they had just gotten into a verbal argument and then he shot him that would be more severe than having been blindsided and knocked to the ground. The video may have shown the attacker walking away but not by very much. He wasn’t ten feet away or acting like he was about to get into his car. Had he been getting into his car or had his hand on the handle then I might have thrown the book at this guy but not the way it happened. Bottom line, never pull your weapon unless your life is in imminent danger. I am even hesitant to think about stepping into a situation where armed assistance may be warranted but involving other people. Look at all of the issues cops have with stepping into a domestic dispute!

Expecting a bloke who has just been king hit to the ground to be thinking/reacting rationally seems unrealistic to me.

McGlockton and his girlfriend have both demonstrated actions that are indicative of …. ‘priors’, for want of a better term. Drejka we aren’t told about, and that could change the picture too.

Andrew’s assessment of this case was spot on from the very beginning. I believe Mr. Drejka would have done a lot better with Mr. Branca as his defense counsel.

So a guy named McGlockton and his GF go looking for a fight, and they find one. Parking Lot Guy has been declared guilty, but I’m having a hard time finding Mr. Tough Guy & Ms. “My boyfriend will whack you” to be innocent.

Drejka was sentenced in accordance with the statutory minimums in place for the crime for which he was convicted. Under FSS 775.087, the minimum mandatory sentence for a felony crime, resulting in death, in which a firearm was used, is 25 years. Drejka was sentenced to 20 years. So, he caught a break.

The problem, which Drejka faced, was the fact that he was the victim of a simple battery, and not a very severe one either. He suffered no significant injuries, or any injury at all. His assailant immediately retreated upon his presentation of a pistol. And the assailant made no movement in Drejka’s direction or any other indication that he was going to continue the attack or that a new attack was imminent. Given the circumstances, a finding of guilt for manslaughter probably occurred because Drejka was attacked, initially. Otherwise the video of the shooting looks a lot like 2nd degree homicide, where Drejka made a conscious decision to shoot McGlockton in retaliation for being knocked to the ground.

The Guyger case in Texas is different in two important regards. The first is that there is no mandatory minimum sentence for homicide. The second is the fact that Texas statutes make it a homicide if a person intentionally shoots another and lawful self defense or acting under color of law id found not to apply. As Guyger intentionally shot Jean, she could not be found guilty of manslaughter, which is confined to accidental deaths. Also, there were mitigating circumstances in the Guyger case. Guyger made a credible claim that she thought that she was entering HER apartment, when she encountered Jean. Also, thought Guyger was in a police uniform, Jean made no attempt to comply with her directions nor did he raise any verbal complaint concerning Guyger’s presence. We will never know why, unfortunately. And, given the size differential, it was not hard to see where Guyger might reasonably have viewed Jean as a threat. However, again, there was no evidence that Jean made any threatening motions toward Guyger or was holding anything which could be identified, even mistakenly, as a weapon. So. Guyger was convicted of the crime of murder and given half the maximum sentence.

    cucha in reply to Mac45. | October 12, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    There was a crime alright. A Black dude attacking a White man for no reason whatsoever.

    At least he is no longer around to continue playing Knockout.

      Mac45 in reply to cucha. | October 12, 2019 at 2:19 pm

      Yes, McGlockton committed a crime, simply battery, a misdemeanor. And, if Drejka had called the police, McGlockton would have been arrested, charged and convicted. The problem here is that McGlockton’s crime does not even legally authorize the presenting of a deadly weapon, a firearm, in a threatening manner in self defense, let alone authorize the actual use of deadly force, shooting someone, in self defense.

      So, McGlockton is executed for his crime. And Drejka gets 20 years in jail. Self defense is complicated. Learn the law, if you are going to put yourself on the line.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Mac45. | October 12, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    “His assailant immediately retreated upon”

    Not much of a retreat, he could have easily continued the attack.

      “He could have easily continued the attack”. No. The attack ended, when McGlockton backed up and stopped. Now, he could have instituted a new attack, immediately. But, he didn’t. That is the point. He could also have instituted another attack an hour later or the next day. And, that is a big deal. It is not legal to kill someone because he MAY attack you at a future time.

      Like the Kenny Rogers song says:

      “You gotta know when to hold ’em.
      Know when to fold ’em.
      Know when to walk away,
      Know when to run.”

      If you are going to carry a deadly weapon for self defense, you better know when you can and can’t use it, legally.

The dude was found guilty because he was White and the so-called victim was Black. Period.

    Mac45 in reply to cucha. | October 12, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    So, now we play the race card to attempt to justify Drejka’s actions? Really? On a legal blog? I mean, the fact that the use of deadly force was wholly unjustified, under the statutes, is now irrelevant? Mr. Branca may choose to put forth the idea that Drejka’s wholly illegal actions could somehow have been legally justified with a better defense is intriguing. But, Drejka OBVIOUSLY committed the crime he was convicted of. And, when he was convicted, he fell afoul of the mandatory sentencing guidelines.

    I pointed out that all of this could have been avoided if Drejka had simply waited until McGlockton made a movement toward him, even one which was not obviously threatening, before he fired. He didn’t. So he is going to jail for a very long time. Nothing racist about this verdict. It exactly conforms to the law.

I’ve debated this at length already and won’t do so again. Harsh sentence, but I’m a gun owner who agreed with the verdict.

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