Why simple fear alone is no justification for citizens to kill anyone, to attack anyone or to take legal matters into their own hands.
In a past blog post titled “When fear is not enough”, I made the case of why simple fear alone is not justification for the police to kill Black men. In this part 2, I make the case of why simple fear alone is not justification for private citizens to kill anyone, to attack anyone or to take legal matters into their own hands.
2 weeks ago, a Black male, Markeis McGlockton, driving with his Black female partner Britany Jacobs and their 3 children pulled into a Circle A Food Store in Clearwater, Florida. Even though McGlockton, Jacobs, nor their children were not handicapped McGlockton chose to park in a space reserved for handicapped people. McGlockton and his 5-year-old son go into the store while the others wait in the car.
While McGlockton is in the store, Michael Drejka a White male pulls into the Circle A lot and sees the McGlockton/Jacobs car parked in the handicap space. After noticing the car had no handicap decal he approached the car and started harassing Jacobs about the car being wrongfully parked in the handicap space. As Drejka is harassing Jacobs McGlockton sees this and comes out of the store, he walks up to Drejka and shoves him to the ground. Drejka retaliates by pulling out a gun and shooting McGlockton in the chest, McGlockton after being shot stumbles back into the store where he collapses in front of his 5-year-old son. Unfortunately, McGlockton dies 30 minutes later at the hospital.
Video of Michael Drejka murdering Markeis McGlockton. / CBS This Morning
Based on Florida’s stand your ground law, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced Drejka would not face any charges for killing McGlockton. Drejka’s actions were “within the bookends of stand your ground and within the bookends of force being justified,” “I’m not saying I agree with it, but I don’t make that call,” Gualtieri said at a news conference.
U.S. Senators Bill Nelson, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris along with U.S. Congressmen Charlie Crist and Alcee Hastings have all signed and addressed a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The letter request that the Department of Justice take a look into whether a federal law was violated in the shooting.
Clearly, a man being killed for parking in the wrong place is morally wrong and is an abuse and misuse of any law, including Florida’s notorious stand your ground law that permits killing a person in self-defense. But this shooting is the classic example of everyone involved being guilty of wrongdoing, resulting in a needless death.
The deceased Markeis McGlockton committed the first wrong by parking in the handicap space. McGlockton’s partner and fellow passenger, Britany Jacobs, is quoted on video saying in response to Drejka’s harassment, “I have my right to park wherever I want to park”. She is wrong this simply is not true. No non-handicap person has the right to park in a designated handicap parking space anywhere in America, in fact, it’s against the law everywhere in America📋 for any non-handicapped person to do so.
The murderer Michael Drejka committed the second wrong by approaching and harassing Jacobs. Drejka is the not owner of the store, an employee of the store, or a law enforcement official so, therefore, he had no authority or business instructing anyone on where to park at the store. Although we are living in times where the motto of local, state, and federal governments are “see something say something” the emphasis is on say something not do something. No government encourages private citizens to take the law into their hands and enforce it themselves. If Drejka was so aggrieved by the parking violation or simply wanted to be a good citizen and do his civic duty, he should have reported the violation to store management or to the police. Not approach and harass Jacobs.
The deceased McGlockton committed the 3rd wrong when he put his hands on Drejka by pushing him down to the ground. According to Sheriff Gualtieri, “Let the video pretty much speak for itself but I’ll characterize it this way: McGlockton approached Drejka. He didn’t waste any time getting to him, and then he pushed him. But it isn’t just a push, he really slammed him to the ground is what it is. And he pushed him with great force. I mean this is a violent push, this isn’t just a push or a shove, this is violent and he slammed him to the ground”.
I can imagine that McGlockton seeing Drejka harassing the love of his life was not a pleasant sight. He might have even feared that Drejka would do harm to her. Nonetheless, this did not give McGlockton the right to assault Drejka by pushing him. No matter how wrong Drejka was for fussing Jacobs out he was not putting his hands on Jacobs, and therefore McGlockton did not have the right to put his hands on Drejka. No one has the right to offensively hit or push anyone first, everyone has the right to defensively hit or push anyone who hits or pushes them first. McGlockton did have the right to step to Drejka and return the verbal assault that Drejka was inflicting on Jacobs, or he simply could have gotten in his car and drove away.
The murderer Drejka committed the 4th and most heinous wrong when he shot McGlockton in the chest killing him. No doubt about it Drejka was wrongly assaulted when McGlockton pushed him down to the ground. McGlockton was wrong in doing so and Drejka was right when he pulled out his gun in response to the assault. But that’s where Drejka’s rightful reaction to the assault ends. Because the video clearly shows McGlockton was not making any more aggressive moves toward Drejka after he pushed him down. To the contrary once Drejka pulled out his gun the video shows McGlockton backing up away from Drejka.
Even with McGlockton backing away from him the murderer Drejka decided to shot him anyway, this act was the wrong Drejka committed. The only right response Drejka had was to report the push down to the police who would then arrest McGlocklin for assault. Drejka justifies committing the murder of McGlockton by using the flimsy excuse of fear for his life, which the flawed stand your ground law allows him to hide his dirty deed behind. The video illustrates Drejka’s fear lie. How can a man who is pointing a loaded gun at an unarmed man who is backing away from him, be in imminent fear of losing his life?
This is the deadly conundrum that the stand your ground law allows to happen almost on a daily basis. The theory and principle of the law are sound, after all, everyone should be able to take whatever steps necessary when one’s life is in imminent danger of being snuffed out. The problem with the law is that it does not clearly define what imminent danger is, leaving it to each individual’s own interpretation. This lack of definition also allows people to lie after they, in fact, have killed someone out of anger like it appears the murderer Drejka did, and then lie in the aftermath and claim they feared for their life.
As I have pointed out in regards to policeman murdering Black males there is a difference in basic fear and imminent fear. In Black White human relations there is a difference between prejudice fear and imminent fear. What happened in the Circle A shooting was definitely think fear and maybe prejudice fear but definitely not imminent fear.
Meaning even though Drejka was pointing a loaded gun at an unarmed McGlockton who had just pushed him down, and although McGlockton was backing away Drejka claims he thought McGockton might still come after him, this was think fear maybe even prejudice fear of the stereotypical violent Black male. As opposed to imminent fear, meaning even though Drejka was pointing a loaded gun at an unarmed McGlockton who had just pushed him down, McGlockton was still coming towards him letting Drejka know, not might, not think but know that because McGlockton had pushed him down and was still coming towards him, if McGlockton got to him he would indeed harm him.
This is the difference that all stand your ground laws must be modified to clearly spell out, otherwise citizens will continue to legally murder fellow citizens based on a WHIM!!!🔷
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(This piece was originally published on Isaac Newton Farris Jr.’s blog.)