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Michael Drejka is a Political Prisoner

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Surveillance video of Michael Drejka's shooting of Markeis McGlockton
Surveillance video of Michael Drejka's shooting of Markeis McGlockton
(Image by Pinellas County, Florida Sheriff)
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Just over a year ago, Michael Drejka fatally shot Markeis McGlockton in a Clearwater, Florida convenience store parking lot. On August 23, a jury found Drejka guilty of manslaughter.

Drejka should never have been charged with a crime.

Pinellas County sheriff Bob Gualtieri initially, and correctly, concluded that Drejka's actions were protected under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law. The charge was only filed after a calculated public relations campaign to create a "public outcry" based on political issues of gun rights and racial injustice.

Let's review the facts:

McGlockton physically attacked Drejka, blind-siding him and taking him by surprise, driving him to his knees in a parking lot with no plausible place to flee (even if Drejka had been obligated to attempt to do so), then loomed aggressively over him as a second potential assailant (McGlockton's girlfriend) moved to Drejka's right. Drejka drew his weapon and shot McGlockton. All of this transpired in a matter of about five seconds.

Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law required a reasonable belief on Drejka's part that firing his weapon was "necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm."

Jury foreman Timothy Kleinman admits that "Markeis Mcglockton unnecessarily provoked Mr. Drejka by pushing him," but claims that "[a]t the same time, using the gun wasn't needed. ... He had time to think, 'Do I really need to kill this man?'"

Forgive me if that statement causes me to doubt that Kleinman or any of the other jurors have ever found themselves in a situation where they were required to make "a kill or possibly be killed" decision over a of span five seconds or less.

Speaking of doubt, let's talk about the jury's obligation. Their job was to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Drejka acted maliciously or negligently rather than in legitimate self-defense. Based on the key piece of evidence -- surveillance video from the store -- such a conclusion borders on the impossible.

Even Kleinman admits that Drejka was acting in self-defense up to the instant he pulled the trigger: "I think simply drawing the gun would have been enough." Kleinman had as long to think about that as he cared to take in the comparative safety of the jury room. Drejka had seconds to think about it, on his knees, in a parking lot, during a violent physical assault that took him by surprise.

So why are we here? Because some politicians and political activists found a "lightning rod" case to push their agendas with. That's a bad reason, an inherently corrupt purpose, for charging a man with a crime.

Yes, Drejka started an argument. But McGlockton started a fight. That bad decision cost Markeis McGlockton his life. It shouldn't cost Michael Drejka his freedom.

 

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Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


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3 people are discussing this page, with 9 comments


shad williams

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I cannot keep up with you. One moment you claim to be libertarian and in the next you are advocating that a person has the right to kill another person without a moment of reconsideration and despite a jury outcome to the contrary. I suppose that is why your nomination for political prisoner status was packing a deadly weapon in the first place? He has had a successful conclusion in two parts - murder and conviction.

Except you are apparently a believer in jury nullification when it suits your political agenda.

Of all the articles you could have written you deliberately chose to follow in PCR's footsteps and fan the flames for hatred. I wonder why all blacks, young and old, men, women and children are not armed to the teeth so that they can stand their ground when the popo decide to drop by? Given what the popo have done to blacks one could make the case that blacks have a prima facia reason to employ stand your ground murderous racist bullshit and shoot first.

Thanks a lot Thomas - Let's escalate the ruling elites divide and rule strategy exactly at the moment when we should be discarding it.

Submitted on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2019 at 6:55:21 AM

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Thomas Knapp

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Reply to shad williams:   New Content

"Except you are apparently a believer in jury nullification when it suits your political agenda."

I'm a believer in jury nullification all the time.


"Given what the popo have done to blacks one could make the case that blacks have a prima facia reason to employ stand your ground murderous racist bullshit and shoot first."


Shoot cops first? I'd have trouble blaming a black man for doing so.


McGlockton violently assaulted Drejka. That's an irrefutable fact. It's not a huge leap from 1) a surprise assault and being on your knees with your assailant still present and seeming to want to continue the assault to 2) reasonable fear for your life.


As far as packing deadly weapons is concerned, I seldom do so but am glad many do.

Submitted on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2019 at 10:54:50 AM

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shad williams

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McGlockton violently assaulted Drejka. That's an irrefutable fact. It's not a huge leap from 1) a surprise assault and being on your knees with your assailant still present and seeming to want to continue the assault to 2) reasonable fear for your life.

Your responses are reasonable and fair minded. Still, how can you be so sure of the facts?

Not only have you declared one "fact" irrefutable, you seem to claim direct knowledge of the emotional state state of the killer.

Do you have some experience that makes you more empathetic politically to a miscarriage of judgment in a case such as this than would first appear from your article?

Submitted on Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 at 9:04:31 AM

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Thomas Knapp

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"Do you have some experience that makes you more empathetic politically to a miscarriage of judgment in a case such as this than would first appear from your article?"


I'm not sure to what extent my own experience frames my empathy (which is very limited -- Drejka does not appear to be a very good person in general) here, but I have been in a situation where I had to decide, in a matter of single-digit seconds, whether or not to shoot at, and almost certainly kill, someone. I was actually squeezing the trigger when the situation resolved itself in a different way.


I remember the pressure. I remember the adrenaline. I notice that Drejka had even less time than I did to process and respond to a seemingly life-or-death situation, and recall that I was specifically trained to handle my situation (an unidentified truck speeding toward a barricade in the Middle East) while I have no knowledge that he had any training for his. So at the very least, I'm uncomfortable holding him to a higher standard of judgment in such a matter than I hold myself to. And nearly 30 years later, based on limited further information, I'm not sure that I made the correct decision back then by not shooting.

Submitted on Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 at 10:59:38 AM

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"I wonder why all blacks, young and old, men, women and children are not armed to the teeth so that they can stand their ground when the popo decide to drop by?"


As a fan, from my youth, of Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, I wonder the same thing.

Submitted on Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 at 1:12:50 PM

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Old Codger

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A large number of young black men are armed to the teeth, quite typically with stolen guns. This is very true in the Orlando, Florida area. This is now also extending to blacks in highschool.

Submitted on Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 at 3:23:33 PM

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Reply to Old Codger:   New Content

Got a source for that claim?

Submitted on Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 at 4:15:02 PM

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Based on my experience and living here and watching the daily news.

Submitted on Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 at 6:34:38 PM

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OK, so it's something you've convinced yourself of, not something you know. No problem.

Submitted on Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 at 8:15:15 PM

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