(Reuters) – A man will not be charged after fatally shooting another man in front of his girlfriend and son at a Florida convenience store during an argument over a handicapped parking spot, because of the state’s Stand Your Ground law, according to authorities.
The case, which has sparked growing criticism on social media, will instead be sent to the state attorney’s office for further review, said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri during a news conference on Friday.
Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, established in 2005, grants residents the right to use force if they reasonably believe they are at risk of great harm or death.
A representative from the state attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.
On Thursday shortly after 3 p.m., Michael Drejka, 47, got into a shouting match with a woman named Britany Jacobs who sat inside a car parked at a handicapped spot outside of a small food store in Clearwater, Florida, a city less than 30 miles from Tampa, Gualtieri said. Drejka frequently visited the store and was angry over her use of the parking spot without a legal permit, Gualtieri said.
Surveillance video showed Drejka moments later being approached by Markeis McGlockton, Jacob’s 28-year-old boyfriend, who was inside of the store shopping with their son, Markeis McGlockton Jr., 5.
“McGlockton approached Drejka – he didn’t waste anytime getting to him – and then he pushed him,” Gualtieri said, adding that there was no verbal exchange between the two men. “And he pushed him with great force. This was a violent push.”
While on the ground, Drejka, who told police that he was in fear for his life, reached for his concealed firearm, which he owned legally, and shot McGlockton in the chest. The father ran back into the store where he collapsed and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The sheriff’s office on Saturday stood by the sheriff’s comments during Friday’s news conference, said police spokesman Spencer Gross.
“There’s been no update or change,” Gross said.
The investigation into Drejka’s immunity is ongoing.
Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish