The white Florida man accused of fatally shooting a black driver over a handicapped parking spot has no regrets about the deadly encounter, he said.
Michael Drejka sat down with WTSP in Tampa and spoke openly for the first time about the July 19 dispute in Clearwater where he shot and killed 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton.
Drejka approached McGlockton's girlfriend, who was sitting in his car, over the handicapped parking space it was parked in, according to the Associated Press. When McGlockton exited the store and witnessed what was happening, he shoved Drejka, who then pulled out a gun and shot McGlockton in the torso.
Citing the state's controversial "stand your ground" law, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office declined to charge Drejka with a crime.
Weeks later, on August 13, state attorneys charged him with manslaughter.
Asked if he would change anything about the deadly day, McGlockton said, "No. Not off the top of my head.”
“I’ve had plenty of time to think about it,” he said of the run-in.
Drejka said he felt vindicated by Pinellas County cops' initial refusal to arrest him.
"I followed the law the way I felt the law was supposed to be followed," he said. "I cleared every hurdle that that law had to, had to put in front of me."
The controversial statute allows for the use of deadly force by citizens fearing “imminent death or great bodily harm.”
Drejka said he was shocked when he was eventually arrested.
"I didn’t hear about it until they were putting handcuffs on me," he said.
When asked about the moment McGlockton shoved him, Drejka said it was frightening.
“It felt like I was tackled or someone hit me from behind with something,” he said. “I left my feet and slid along the ground.”
Had Drejka not pulled the trigger, he claims, McGlockton would have killed him.
“It was only one other person that was making a move and that move was towards me,” he said. “I didn’t know what was coming for me.”
The You have to be scared for it, if you’re not, you’re wrong, you’re wrong. And that’s that.”
Drejka said handicapped parking spots had always been a contentious issue for him because his high school sweetheart and mother-in-law each lived with disabilities.
“My whole life has always been looking for a handicapped parking spot,” he said. “It’s always touched a nerve with me because of the way they’re abused and used.”
“Please clear this up,” 10News anchor Reginald Roundtree asked Drejka, “Are you racist or not?"
“No, sir,” he responded. “Not by any means. I’ve worked with too many people, met too many people in my life to be that kind of person.”
Racism “doesn’t help anyone,” he said.
“To have that kind of feeling about an entire race of people seems foreign to me.”
Drejka did apologize to the family during the discussion, although he admitted that a jailhouse interview probably wasn't the best venue to do so.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “That’s all I can really say to them and uh, thinking about it, would you accept those kind of words from someone, I don’t think I would. You know, just to, uh, I think there’s too much hate already to, uh, for me to be able to say anything that would make any kind of difference.”
Drejka remains in Pinellas County Jail on a $100,000 bond. He said he did the interview because he needs to find a place for his wife and his daughters to live, and he's having money troubles.
He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
[Photos: Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department]