McGlockton Shooting: "Stand Your Ground" or Manslaughter?

Date: 08/17/18

I was recently asked about my thoughts on the Florida shooting of Markeis McGlockton by Michael Drejka. I reviewed the security camera footage, and I want to provide some insight into why I believe Drejka was ultimately charged with manslaughter. Read below:

Stand Your Ground

Florida seems to be in the spotlight pretty frequently for their "Stand Your Ground Law", as it seems to result in more citizens feeling confident in standing up for themselves against crime and violence. Coming from California, where the majority of the population isn't even allowed to carry a firearm in public, I applaud Florida for having such a pro-self-defense position. Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law essentially states that a person has the right to defend themselves, up to and including deadly force when necessary, and does not have a duty to retreat or attempt to retreat before using force. Let's see how that applies to this situation.

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The Video

The McGlockton shooting has a few circumstances that should alarm anyone with training on when and how to use a firearm in a dangerous circumstance. The video is fairly clear on what we can see, but not very clear on what was being said, though I don't think that carries much weight considering the body language by both parties.

It appears Drejka was speaking McGlockton's female counterpart in the parking lot, allegedly over them parking illegally in a handicap space. It doesn't appear as though Drejka was committing any crime or even being physically aggressive. McGlockton walks out of the store, sees what is happening and immediately shoves Drejka to the ground.

Drejka appears fairly startled by the move, immediately pulls his concealed carry weapon and points it at McGlockton. McGlockton continued approaching Drejka until it appears he sees the gun. He immediately stops the assault forward and begins backing up. Drejka fires a single, fatal shot at McGlockton, who later died from his wound.

The Decision to Draw

Drejka likely only had limited knowledge of the circumstance before he fired. He went from aggressively speaking to a woman about breaking the law to getting battered by an assailant. The amount of force McGlockton used to push Drejka to the ground could mean the difference between life and death. Drejka could have very easily hit his head or broken a bone.

McGlockton also had the element of surprise. Drejka could not have known that a conversation would have led to McGlockton flanking him and shoving him to the ground. Likely startled, Drejka pulled his firearm and pointed it an McGlockton, which was completely justified given the circumstance.

The Pinnacle Moment

What you need to understand about this incident is that shoving a person to the ground qualifies as the "threat of great bodily harm". The amount of force used to push Drejka was great enough to throw him off balance and to the ground, which could have easily resulted in Drejka hitting his head or breaking a bone. A concussion is a very serious matter and, left untreated, can lead to death.

Drejka was, in my professional opinion, completely justified in drawing his firearm. The reason that we are talking about this case now, however, is the moment immediately proceeding Drejka drawing down on McGlockton. 

McGlockton was obviously on the assault until he saw Drejka pull his firearm, but once he realized what Drejka was doing, he immediately started backing up. Drejka did not fire his gun until McGlockton had already backed away. The few steps that McGlockton took in backing away are enough for prosecutors to ascertain that Drejka was no longer under threat of attack, and should not have fired his weapon.

My Thoughts on the Shooting

To the untrained eye, Drejka was either completely unjustified in shooting McGlockton because of a lack of understanding of  justifiable deadly force, or Drejka was complete justified because one doesn't understand the nuance of the law.

The truth of the matter is, there is a scenario where both men walked away from this scenario alive, and McGlockton went to jail instead. McGlockton committed what, depending on Drejka's actual injuries, could be considered a felony battery. Drejka was obviously startled and could not be certain what McGlockton would do next after shoving him to the ground, so he made a good choice and pulled his firearm.

I cannot read Drejka's mind, and I was not in the circumstance, so I cannot completely agree or disagree with Drejka's shooting. Maybe Drejka's vision was blurred from the assault and he could not discern whether McGlockton was still coming after him or not. Given the sudden attack from McGlockton, that would be a perfectly reasonable defense. I would definitely be in fear for my life is someone flanked me, shoved me to the ground and I had no idea it was coming. That said, I am speculating. What Drejka actually felt and thought at the time may have been completely different, and will have to be judged by a jury.

Detention: The Missing Pieces

What I believe is missing from this scenario is a very small piece of training that could have saved McGlockton's life and prevented Drejka from facing criminal charges.

What I am speaking about is detaining a suspect. Assuming Drejka realized McGlockton was no longer on the assault, Drejka could have moved from self-preservation to containing the situation. He already had his weapon trained on McGlockton, and that appeared to be enough to cause McGlockton to retreat. McGlockton did not have any weapons in his hands and so the "21 Foot Rule" would not apply here.

With the proper training and practice, Drejka could have ordered McGlockton to the ground to wait for authorities to arrive. Any advance by McGlockton would have then warranted a shooting, but compliance would have led to an arrest and (maybe) justice. Drejka could have called authorities with one hand while holding McGlockton at gun point, or asked a bystander to do the same.

Ironically, how to detain a suspect has been one of the courses I intend on putting into my training regiment. 

Conclusion

Ultimately, we cannot determine the the outcome of the case without all of the facts. Drejka could have been deathly afraid of McGlockton and fired his weapon believing he was saving his own life, or he could be an instigator who was eagerly awaiting the day he could draw down on some punk and teach them a lesson.

Either way, we have to acknowledge that McGlockton committed a serious crime and put himself in the position he did. There was no justification for his actions, and his violent behavior is the bane of the civilized the world. Characters like McGlockton are the reason upstanding citizens feel the need to carry firearms. If Drejka had not drawn his weapon, the circumstance could likely have gone a very different direction.

That said, we will never know. Now McGlockton is dead, and Drejka is having to answer to a jury for his actions. Whatever the circumstance, this case is likely to have a negative impact on how citizens feel about defending themselves.

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About the Author:

Charles Sears is a ten-year veteran of the armed services, still actively serving in the California Army National Guard. He served as a California State Peace Officer from 2013 - 2018. He has expert training in the use of firearms, use of force tactics including de-escalation and the use of deadly force. He currently owns and operates Every Citizen Armed, a patriotic, pro-second amendment clothing company.