With Markeis McGlockton’s killer finally charged with a crime, there was good reason to expect a jury to return a guilty verdict in Florida’s latest controversial “Stand Your Ground” shooting case, legal experts told NewsOne on Tuesday.
“The chances of a conviction are high in this situation,” said civil rights attorney L. Chris Stewart, who counts the families of Walter Scott and Alton Sterling as his clients. “It’s a travesty that there was no immediate arrest. In the video, McGlockton takes a step backwards. This takes away the Stand Your Ground defense.”
Florida A&M University’s Law School Dean LeRoy Pernell agreed but also cautioned that juries are unpredictable.
“What makes this case different from other Stand Your Ground cases is that we have a video recording, from beginning to end,” said Pernell, who teaches criminal procedure courses at the historically Black university’s law school in Orlando.
Michael Drejka, 48, was seen on video shooting the unarmed Black man on July 19 in the parking lot of a Clearwater convenience store. McGlockton, 28, pushed Drejka to the ground after he came out the store and saw the man arguing with his girlfriend about a handicap parking space.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who originally declined to make an arrest because of the nature of the Stand Your Ground law, locked up the gunman immediately after the state prosecutor charged Drejka with manslaughter on Monday.
Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe defended his decision to charge Drejka with manslaughter instead of murder.
“I went through it all and made the legal decision that that is the charge that we could prove,” he told NBC News.
Under Florida law, a first-degree murder conviction requires the prosecution to prove that the crime was premeditated. A second-degree murder charge requires evidence of a “depraved mind,” better described in layman’s terms as killing in the “heat of passion.” For manslaughter, proving intentional negligence is the key.
Pernell said he believed the prosecutors got the charges right.
“They had to go with something less than premeditated murder. I’m not in favor of over-charging then moving down,” the law professor explained. “The state attorney had full information that figured into his decision.”
The video is the key piece of evidence in this case. However, Pernell warned that the defense most likely would offer a different perspective on McGlockton’s backward step that preceded Drejka pulling the trigger.
The Stand Your Ground law protects shooters from prosecution if they feel threatened. Unlike other self-defense laws, it does not require the shooter to try to flee the scene before using deadly force. One day after the incident, Gaultieri concluded that McGlockton was the aggressor and Drejka had a right to shoot under the law.
Gaultieri ignored the fact that McGlockton was defending his own family during the encounter. McGlockton had the couple’s 5-year-old son with him when he observed Drejka yelling at his girlfriend.
“The sheriff was wrong,” Stewart insisted. “He was borderline racist, saying McGlockton was violent but had no negative words for the shooter. There was no immediate threat to him. The video doesn’t show McGlockton charging at him. Drejka should have backed away.”
Pernell said the law is flawed.
“Part of the problem with Stand Your Ground is that there was a decision at the law enforcement level to prevent scrutiny from the courts and grand jury review,” the professor stated. “Not to belittle the sheriff’s training, but the law enables these cases to bypasses a whole process that includes a jury.”
Race has previously played a major role in determining who gets convicted in Stand Your Ground cases. Shooters who killed a Black person walked free 73 percent of the time, while those who killed a white person went free 59 percent of the time, according to a 2012 analysis by the Tampa Bay Times.
There’s also that area where fear and race intersect. Fear of Black men increases the chances of these types of shootings, the dean said.
“I’m not going to ascribe emotions to the shooter,” Pernell stated, “but unreasonable fear comes into play in extreme circumstances.”
52 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 211 of 52
2. Jemel Roberson, 26Source:false 2 of 52
3. DeAndre Ballard, 23Source:false 3 of 52
4. Botham Shem Jean, 26Source:false 4 of 52
5. Antwon Rose Jr., 17Source:false 5 of 52
6. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 6 of 52
7. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 7 of 52
8. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 8 of 52
9. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 9 of 52
10. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 10 of 52
11. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 11 of 52
12. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 12 of 52
13. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 13 of 52
14. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 14 of 52
15. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 15 of 52
16. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 16 of 52
17. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 17 of 52
18. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 18 of 52
19. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 19 of 52
20. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 20 of 52
21. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 21 of 52
22. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 22 of 52
23. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 23 of 52
24. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 24 of 52
25. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 25 of 52
26. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 26 of 52
27. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 27 of 52
28. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 28 of 52
29. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 29 of 52
30. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 30 of 52
31. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 31 of 52
32. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 32 of 52
33. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 33 of 52
34. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 34 of 52
35. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 35 of 52
36. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 36 of 52
37. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 37 of 52
38. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 38 of 52
39. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 39 of 52
40. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 40 of 52
41. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 41 of 52
42. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 42 of 52
43. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 43 of 52
44. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 44 of 52
45. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 45 of 52
46. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 46 of 52
47. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 47 of 52
48. Stephon Clark, 22Source:false 48 of 52
49. Danny Ray Thomas, 34Source:false 49 of 52
50. DeJuan Guillory, 27Source:false 50 of 52
51. Patrick Harmon, 5051 of 52
52. Jonathan Hart, 2152 of 52
Legal Experts Are Optimistic About Florida’s Latest ‘Stand Your Ground’ Shooting was originally published on newsone.com