Pinellas Commissioners Pass Resolution Calling For Clarification Of 'Stand Your Ground' Law

Aug 9, 2018
Originally published on August 8, 2018 7:35 pm

Pinellas County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday asking Florida lawmakers to take another look at the state's "Stand Your Ground" law.

It's in response to the killing of Markeis McGlockton, a 28-year-old black man who was shot by 47-year-old Michael Drejka, a white man, after the two argued over a handicapped parking space at a Clearwater convenience store in July.

McGlockton shoved Drejka during the argument. Drejka then pulled out a gun and shot McGlockton.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office did not charge Drejka because of the law, which was approved in 2005 and allows people to meet "force with force" if they believe they're under threat of being harmed.

Stand Your Ground is outlined in Sections 776.012 and 776.013 of the Florida Statutes. Changes to the law last year shifted the burden of proof from defense attorneys to prosecutors.

A civil rights lawyer best known for representing the family of Trayvon Martin, Ben Crump, said that prosecutors said the shooting was done in a "racist, calculated" manner. Other groups, like the NAACP’s Clearwater/Upper Pinellas chapter, are calling for Drejka's arrest. 

Kenneth Welch, chairman of the Pinellas County Commission, said the uncertainty over how the law applies in this case calls for state action.

"This resolution asks the legislation to address the flaws in that law, either through reform or repeal, and also states our support for Senator Darryl Rouson's call for a special session to address this,” Welch said.

A Special Session would require the backing of three-fifths of the members of both the Republican-dominated House and Senate. But they rejected a similar request in 2013.

The Board’s resolution supports the removal of protections for those who “intentionally provoke confrontation and/or respond disproportionally with deadly force.”

The resolution also calls for the Legislature to clarify law enforcement’s process of making immunity determinations under the “Stand Your Ground” law.

“To me, the very fact there's so much debate an uncertainty even among lawmakers and law enforcement about how Stand Your Ground actually applies in this case, I think it’s clear evidence the law is broken, and the law needs to be addressed by the legislature that created it,” Welch said.

Florida’s Legislative Black Caucus intends to file legislation for the 2019 session to address the self-defense law.

State Attorney for Pinellas County Bernie McCabe received the case on August 1 after the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office completed their investigation. 

There is no time frame for how long it will take the state attorney’s office to review the case and to determine whether charges will be filed.

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