CLEARWATER, Fla. (WGN) -- The man who fatally shot Markeis McGlockton in a controversial “stand your ground case” was found guilty by a jury Friday night, and McGlockton's family says they can now begin to heal.
After six hours of deliberation, a jury found Michael Drejka guilty of manslaughter for shooting unarmed McGlockton in Florida last summer over a handicapped-accessible parking space.
“It's been well over a year since we've been dealing with this matter, and I can safely say my family can rest now,” McGlockton's father, Michael McGlockton, told reporters. “Now we can start putting the pieces back together and move on.”
“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. We are hopeful that this conviction will be a brick in the road to changing the culture of racism here in Florida,” McGlockton's mother, Monica Robinson, said in a statement.
Drejka argued that the incident was a justifiable homicide according to Florida's “stand your ground” law, a claim that renewed a national debate on the controversial law.
After five days in court, the jurors were presented with closing arguments: the prosecution presented Drejka, who did not take the stand, as an armed vigilante and the defense portrayed him as a man who feared for his life.
The six-hour deliberations were paused briefly around 9:30 p.m. when jurors asked for clarification on the instructions for deciding guilt or innocence, a confusion Drejka's attorney's told reporters is unsurprising given the complicated nature of the “stand your ground” law.
About 30 minutes after the pause, the jury brought back a guilty verdict.