ABC Action News: “St. Pete lawmaker rallying support to repeal ‘Stand Your Ground’ changes after Clearwater shooting”
PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A Pinellas County lawmaker is now fighting to repeal changes made to the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law after a Clearwater father of three was shot and killed in a convenience store parking lot.
Representative Ben Diamond tells ABC Action News he does not want to see another shooting like the one that happened at the Circle A Convenience Store on Thursday.
Diamond insists that unless the law changes, we’ll see more cases just like it.
“The changes that we made last year took this law way out of balance in a dangerous way,” Diamond explained.
The St. Petersburg Democrat voted against the changes to Stand Your Ground, which put the burden of proof on the defense instead of the person who pulls the trigger. Now, Diamond is rallying up support to get those changes repealed.
Diamond says he feels compelled to reform the law after watching surveillance video from the store, which shows an altercation between Markeis McGlockton and Michael Drejka. A dispute over a handicapped parking spot led to McGlockton shoving Drejka hard to the ground, then Drejka pulling out a gun and shooting the Clearwater father.
“It’s a terrible situation,” Diamond explained. “And we’ve put our local law enforcement and state attorneys in a tough position to press charges.”
Diamond is now fighting to make it easier for the state to charge shooters if they escalate the violence. He worries the law currently puts all of us in danger by giving the gunman too much authority to make that deadly decision.
Yet, Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Escobar disagrees. “It’s the law and it’s the right law,” he said.
Escobar is working on another high profile stand your ground case representing Curtis Reeves, who shot and killed a man in a Wesley Chapel movie theatre after the man threw a bag of popcorn at him. Reeves told a judge he was in fear for his life because he thought a physical fight would break out.
“What if someone chose not to pull their gun and defend themselves and that one punch or shove causes their death? Then we’re going to be saying why didn’t he pull his firearm in self-defense?” Escobar explained.
Escobar says the law makes it clear: If you feel threatened, you can pull the trigger.
“I think the real problem is people are afraid this will open Pandora’s box and that if you’re being physically attacked by someone, you will automatically shoot. I don’t see it that way. You pull out a gun to defend your life,” he said.
Diamond plans to try to repeal the law during this upcoming legislative session.
As for the McGlockton/Drejka case, the state attorney’s office tells us it could take a long time for them to decide if charges will be filed.
In the meantime, the McGlockton family has hired their own attorney: Michele Rayner of Rayner Robinson LLC. In a press release, the law office said they are urging the community and nation to contact the state attorney’s office to demand charges be filed against Drejka.