A group of congressmen from Florida wants to “eliminate or modify” the personal defense law “Stand Your Ground”, in the midst of a controversy over the case of a man who took refuge in that rule after having killed another in a discussion for a parking in last July.
State Rep. Kionne L. McGhee, a Democrat, said he has the support of “enough signatures” when this week he asked state authorities to convene a special session of the Florida legislature to address the issue.
“Stand Your Ground” (literally stay where you are) allows a person who considers that they are at risk of dying or suffering serious physical harm to use “deadly force” by remaining where they are, that is, without the need to try to escape danger.
Michael Drejka took refuge in this law after killing Markeis McGlockton on July 19 in a parking lot in Clearwater (west coast of Florida),
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri refused to arrest Drejka, prompting protests in the city of Clearwater to demand his arrest and the abolition of the law.
In addition to the protests, federal congressmen have asked the Justice Department to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against Drejka, whose case is in the hands of the Pinellas County prosecutor’s office.
Drejka, a 47-year-old white man, had already been denounced on three other occasions of assault while driving and threatening his weapon, one of them in the same parking lot for which African-American McGlockton, 28, died.
Seeing Drejka arguing with his girlfriend, who had parked his vehicle in a place for disabled drivers, McGlockton approached and pushed him, and he immediately shot him in the chest from the ground.
McGlockton, who managed to walk wounded in the presence of one of his children (the other two were inside the vehicle) and enter a store, was taken to a hospital where he died later.
If an African-American had shot a white man under the same circumstances, Sheriff Gualtieri “would have handcuffed him and taken him to jail,” said the African-American Rev. Al Sharpton, a national civil rights activist, during his visit. week to Clearwater.
For his part, the former mayor of Tallahassee (capital of Florida) Andrew Gillum urged Governor Rick Scott to suspend the law “Stand Your Ground” because it creates “chaos and confusion that can result in the death of innocent people.”
This law came into effect in Florida in 2005 and since then has been extended to a total of twenty states.
The law was even reinforced in 2017 by the state Congress and now urges the Prosecutor’s Office to prove the guilt of those who shoot or use deadly force and not the defense attorneys to prove that they acted in defense of life.
Consulted by Efe, the criminal lawyer Jorge Viera said that he would be “more concerned” if his client were “an African-American who wants to benefit from ‘Stand Your Ground’ if he were a white one.”
Viera explained that before 2017 the law implied the need to resort to the “responsibility to withdraw” from the danger, to avoid the problem, before defending oneself.
In his opinion, now criminal lawyers have a “greater possibility of defending the client and allowing him to benefit from immunity,” but for the Prosecutor’s Office, which represents the victim, it is “more difficult because they have to enter the head of the accused and say ‘he was not thinking this way’ “.
Since the entry into force of “Stand your Ground,” the monthly homicide rate with firearms in Florida increased by more than 31.6%, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The case of McGlockton has revived others in Florida, such as that of retired policeman Curtis Reeves, who in 2014 killed Chad Oulson at a Weslay Chapel movie theater in the Tampa Bay area after a fight over the use of a telephone mobile.
Lawyers point out that Drejka’s aggressive driving record can be used if he is brought to trial to emphasize that he was frustrated, not afraid for his life.
For Viera, the law “gives people the thought that all they have to say is ‘I felt threatened and now I can shoot anyone.'”
However, he said that you have to take into consideration that “people do not have to wait until they hit him or fall on him to have to use it, that’s the balance of the law and the problem we’re going to have to make that balance” .