A Florida man currently on trial for fatally shooting an unarmed man last year initially claimed he opened fire as he feared he was going to be kicked, a police interview presented to the court on Thursday revealed.
Michael Drejka, 49, is facing manslaughter charges for fatally shooting Markeis McGlockton, 28, at a Clearwater convenience store parking lot on July 19, 2018. On Thursday, as reported by the Daily Mail, the prosecution presented video footage of the interview Drejka had with Pinellas police on the day of the shooting—in which he says that he had to “shoot to save my own ass.”
“As I come out I start drawing my weapon. As I start leveling off my weapon, he makes his next step towards me and 21-foot rule,” he says, according to the Daily Mail. “It happened so fast and that was that…I thought kicks were coming or at least he’d be on top of me.”
Coined by Salt Lake Police Department Sergeant Dennis Tuller, the 21-foot rule refers to the amount of space that a knife or weapon-wielding person could attack an officer before they have the chance to pull their gun and fire.
On Wednesday, the slain man’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, 26, testified about the events leading up to the fatal shooting. She said she pulled into the handicap spot with McGlockton and their children when McGlockton went into the store to get snacks.
According to NBC, Jacobs alleged Drejka was walking around her car, prompting her to roll down her window. An argument ensued when Drejka questioned her about why she was in the parking spot, she said.
Jacobs reportedly asked Drejka if he wanted her to get her boyfriend. She claimed she made the comment in hopes of scaring Drejka—but instead of backing off, he told her that he should get her boyfriend if she wanted to fight.
While Drejka’s attorneys claimed he acted in self-defense after McGlockton pushed him to the ground and McGlockton’s girlfriend threatened him, prosecutors said McGlockton was turning away from Drejka when he shot him in the chest.
The case has brought additional scrutiny to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Under the statute, someone is allowed to use lethal force if they “reasonably believe that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
While the defense hasn’t cited the controversial law in their argument, Drejka reportedly referred to it when speaking with police.
“(Unintelligible) the ‘Stand Your Ground’ thing, and I did exactly what I thought I was supposed to be doing at that time considering what was happening to myself,” he says in the video, according to CNN.
During the interview, detective Richard Redman pressed Drejka on his claim that McGlockton was approaching him when he opened fire. Surveillance footage appears to show McGlockton backing away from Drejka moments before he is fatally wounded.
“What happens if I told you that I looked at the video and at no time and point does he come running up toward you. He actually takes a step back,” Redman says.
“I would disagree,” Drejka responds.
In addition to the filmed interview, toxicology expert Bruce Goldberger testified on Thursday that MDMA or ecstasy—the drug McGlockton allegedly had in his system when he died—doesn’t cause impulsiveness or aggression.
The prosecution rested their case on Thursday following two days of court testimony. Drejka told the judge on Friday that he would “prefer not to testify,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The trial continues through Friday. A live feed can be viewed below:
[Featured image: Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File]