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Pinellas Sheriff Explains Handling Of 'Stand Your Ground' Case

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, seen here in a file photo, explained his initial decision not to arrest Michael Drejka.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri spoke at a press conference Tuesday to update the public about a recent controversial "stand your ground" case.

The news conference was supposed to include representatives from The Upper Pinellas County Ministerial Alliance and NAACP Clearwater, but they called before the event saying they would not attend. Gualtieri addressed the media alone.

“The easy thing in some respects would have been for me to arrest (Michael) Drejka and kick it to the state attorney,” Gualtieri said. “The easy thing is not the right thing or the legal thing to do based upon the application of law in this case.”

Drejka approached the girlfriend of Markeis McGlockton girlfriend in the parking lot of the Circle A Food Store July 19, complaining that she was illegally parked in a disabled spot.

McGlockton came out of the store and pushed Drejka to the ground. Video from the convenience store cameras shows that Drejka then pulled out a gun and shot McGlockton. 

The couple’s 4-month-old and 3-year-old were in the car. Their 5-year-old, named after McGlockton, was in the store.

McGlockton, 28, was African-American. Drejka, 47, is white.

At the press conference, Gualtieri listed the details of Florida’s “stand your ground” law and how it applies to this situation. He also said that there are aspects of the case that haven’t been made available to the public.

“We’ve seen different versions of the video and interviewed many people whose statements have not been considered by those offering their opinions, not seen by the public or by the media,” Gualtieri said. “Accurate facts matter and all the evidence must be fully considered in any case, but especially a case like this, before anyone forms a final opinion.”

Gualtieri made it clear that this is an ongoing investigation, but he said that he may turn the case over to Bernie McCabe, the State Attorney for Pinellas and Pasco counties, as soon as "the end of this week." Gualtieri said he trusts McCabe to apply the law accurately and fairly.

“This is a very long route on a path and this is the first stop on that route,” Gualtieri said. “So just picture a bus route with a bunch of different stops and this is the first stop. This is not the final stop.”

The NAACP could not be reached for comment.  


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Sam Newlon interning as a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news reporter for spring 2018.
Susan Giles Wantuck is our midday news host, and a producer and reporter for WUSF Public Media who focuses her storytelling on arts, culture and history.