Wannabe cop jailed for killing over parking spot


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Media captionStand your ground: CCTV captured the shooting in a Florida car park

A “wannabe” police officer who shot dead an unarmed man in a row over a disabled parking space in Florida has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Michael Drejka, 49, fatally shot Markeis McGlockton outside a convenience store in July 2018.

Drejka had invoked the state’s “stand-your-ground” law, which can offer a defence for those threatened by deadly force or imminent danger.

But jurors found him guilty of manslaughter in August.

Drejka is white and McGlockton is black, but the judge did not consider race a factor during the trial.

Police were criticised for not charging Drejka until almost a month after McGlockton’s murder.

Judge Joseph Bulone called Drejka a “wannabe law enforcement officer” and self-nominated “handicapped parking space monitor”.

The dispute began after Drejka confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend, Brittany Jacobs, because she had parked in a disabled parking space with two of her children outside a store in Clearwater.

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Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

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Drejka was found guilty of manslaughter in August

As their argument escalated, McGlockton rushed outside the store and pushed Drejka to the ground.

Drejka – who had a concealed weapons licence – pulled out a gun and shot McGlockton.

McGlockton, 28, was taken to hospital in the city of Clearwater and pronounced dead.

“There are no words to fully describe what his loss has done to our family,” said Ms Jacobs in court before Drejka’s sentencing.

“Our youngest two children will never have memories of their daddy.”

Drejka had no supporters with him in court on Thursday, the Tampa Bay Times said. His defence team said relatives stayed away from court due to fears for their safety.

Drejka’s lawyers ultimately used a self-defence argument instead of citing stand-your-ground specifically, so that their client did not have to testify at a pretrial hearing.

But prosecutors pointed to CCTV footage that shows McGlockton backing away before Drejka shot him.

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McGlockton’s family said he was trying to protect them when he shoved Drejka

The initial claim to stand-your-ground renewed debate over the controversial law, which critics say has led to more shootings and has made it harder for some criminals to be prosecuted.

In 2017, Florida’s lawmakers doubled down on stand-your-ground legislation, shifting the burden of disproving the defence to prosecutors, rather than defendants.