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White ‘vigilante’ convicted of killing unarmed black man over parking space

Phil Thomas
Michael Drejka, right, in a court appearance over the shooting of Markeis McGlockton in Clearwater, Florida: AP

A white man who shot and killed an unarmed black man in front of his five-year-old son in an argument over a disabled parking space has been convicted of manslaughter.

Michael Drejka shot Markeis McGlockton outside a store in Clearwater, Florida, later telling police he had a “pet peeve” about illegal parking in disabled spaces.

Drejka, 49, had had a concealed weapons permit for 25 years and told police that he “always” carried his gun.

He could now be jailed for up to 30 years when he is sentenced in October.

Mr McGlockton’s mother, Monica Robinson, said in a statement: “This conviction doesn’t bring our son back, but it 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 as though their lives meant nothing.”

There have been several high profile cases of people who had shot and killed unarmed black people being acquitted at trial.

One of the most controversial also happened in Florida - the shooting of 17-year-old student Trayvon Martin by a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator, George Zimmerman, who was cleared of murder.

Drejka had confronted Mr McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, while her boyfriend and his son were in a nearby convenience store, over their parking space. While he was checking their car for a sticker she asked what he was doing and an argument ensued.

Mr McGlockton came out of the store and pushed Drejka, who drew his gun and fired. Mr McGlockton ran back into the store and collapsed in front of his son. The couple’s younger children were in the car at the time.

During the trial the jury heard that Drejka regularly checked vehicles parked in disabled parking spaces for stickers and sometimes took photographs.

Prosecutor Scott Rosenwasser said Drejka had provoked Mr McGlockton to push him by yelling at his girlfriend rather than calling the police.

He said: “He is a parking lot vigilante.”

Drejka’s defence lawyer, John Trevena, said his client, a retired tree trimmer, had no criminal record and was the son of a police officer. He asked the jury: “Does he look like Charles Bronson in Death Wish? This isn’t a vigilante.”

Agencies contributed to this report

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