Late Friday night, the jury handed down the guilty verdict to 49-year-old Michael Drejka, who fatally shot 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton during a dispute over a handicap parking spot, according to The Washington Post.
Cries and claps from McGlockton’s family filled the courtroom when the jury announced the verdict. Some family members squeezed McGlockton’s father’s shoulder while McGlockton’s girlfriend clapped her hands at the verdict, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Drejka’s lawyers argued the Florida man acted reasonably in self-defense last year after McGlockton pushed him to the ground in the parking lot outside a Clearwater, Fla. convenience store. Prosecutors, however, pointed to video footage showing McGlockton backing away before Drejka shot him.
The altercation that led to McGlockton’s death began last July 19 when Drejka noticed a car parked in a space reserved for the handicapped outside a Circle A Food Store and confronted Britany Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend, while her partner was inside shopping with their 5-year-old son. According to Drejka, the car had no handicap permit.
Jacobs said she became worried about her and her children’s safety as Drejka circled the car and looked in the windows, according to a criminal complaint. She argued with Drejka until McGlockton returned and shoved Drejka in a moment captured on surveillance.
McGlockton backed up “immediately” when Drejka pulled out a .40-caliber Glock handgun, the complaint says. But Drejka fired a shot anyway, killing McGlockton, who collapsed and died in front of his 5-year-old child.
In an interview with police, Drejka said he always carried his gun and had a “pet peeve” about people illegally parking in handicapped spots, according to the Associated Press.
During trial, prosecutors said Drejka should have called police rather than trying to play one himself.
“He is a parking lot vigilante,” prosecutor Scott Rosenwasser said Friday during closing arguments, the AP reported.
Drejka now faces 30 years in prison and McGlockton’s parents, Michael McGlockton and Monica Moore-Robinson, are relieved to have gotten some form of justice for their son.
In a statement, the parents said the conviction “does give us some sense of justice because far too often the criminal justice system fails us by allowing people who take the lives of unarmed Black people to walk free,” according to The Washington Post.