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Michael Drejka

Once the Left, which very much includes the media, begins to push a narrative, they won’t let it go unless and until it no longer serves their political needs, or a narrative they think more damaging to their ideological opponents, or the Constitution (same thing), comes along to replace it.  An example of this is the narrative that Stand Your Ground laws are inherently racist, written to exempt evil white people from the law, allowing them to randomly and without consequences, murder Black people.  The beginning of this narrative, arguably, was the Trayvon Martin case. Martin was shot and killed on February 22, 2012 (the SMM Martin case archive is here).

Here’s an excerpt from my review of the first episode of a multi-part crockumentary about Martin, released in 2018:

Trayvon Martin

…and Fulton claimed the Stand Your Ground law: ‘gives people the right to shoot and kill a 17 year old boy.’ This theme would be continually raised throughout the hour.

SYG, common across America, merely removes the duty to retreat in use of force cases.  If attacked, one does not have to run away.  They may remain where they legally are, and use proportionate force to defend themselves.  All of the other facets of lawful self-defense still remain.  Florida’s SYG law was not at all applicable to the Martin case, and was never raised in the trial.  It was not applicable because Martin ambushed Zimmerman, broke his nose, knocked him to the ground, straddled him, and continually, viciously beat him, repeatedly slamming his head into a concrete sidewalk.  Zimmerman could not retreat.

Yet to this day, Martin’s mother, with the willing help of the media, continues to push this entirely false narrative.  She is not alone.  A great many anti-liberty/gun cracktivists do the same, apparently on the theory that any crack in the wall of the Second Amendment is progress and may lead to the destruction of the entire edifice.

Perhaps the most recent example of this version of fake news is the Michael Drejka case.  The indispensable Andrew Branca outlines the facts:  

It seems that the shooter, 47-year-old Michael Drejka (who happens to be white), was giving his piece of mind to 24-year-old Britany Jacobs for having parked in a handicapped parking spot without the necessary permit. The victim, 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton, who happens to be black, was Ms. Jacob’s boyfriend, and he emerged from the convenience store and approached the argument.

McGlockton approached Drejka, and shoved him viciously to the ground, with McGlockton looming over the downed man.

In response Drejka appears in the surveillance footage to present a handgun at McGlockton. As McGlockton sees Drejka apparently initiating the presentation of his hand gun, McGlockton immediately takes several steps backwards away from Drejka.

It is then that Drejka fires the single shot that would ultimately kill McGlockton, nearly two full seconds after initially presenting the gun at McGlockton.

Surprisingly–or not–the local sheriff got the law entirely wrong, and did not make an arrest based on that misapprehension of the law, as Branca notes in another post:

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri issued a statement about the shove-shoot case. He gets a lot right in this statement, but he also gets a lot wrong. In the interests of time (and because I have a full-day Law of Self Defense LEVEL 1 Class to teach today in Sacramento CA), I’ll focus on the wrong stuff in this post. [skip]

Frankly, I can see reasonable arguments for either a lawful or an unlawful shoot here. A decision not to arrest is reasonable on these facts, and a decision to arrest would have been reasonable on these facts. But the idea that the Sheriff is obviously and explicitly prohibited by law from making an arrest on these facts is nonsense.

Drejka was eventually arrested and charged, and on 08-23-19, was found guilty of manslaughter.  He faces up to life in prison.  Reporting on the verdict, Branca wrote:

The case immediately became something of a media circus when the local sheriff mistakenly decided that Florida’s self-defense immunity law, §776.032, prohibited him from arresting Drejka for the killing. [skip]

Drejka’s legal defense to the charge of manslaughter was, of course, self-defense. As such the only real legal issue in the case was whether, at the moment Drejka fired the fatal shot, he had a reasonable belief that McGlockton presented an imminent deadly force threat (meaning a threat reasonably capable of inflicting death or serious bodily injury).

Note that this is a different question than whether Drejka was justified in presenting his gun in the first place. It’s quite possible for Drejka to have been legally justified in presenting the gun without being legally justified in firing the shot.

This is the key issue, and a key issue in any similar situation.  Branca continues:

In evaluating whether Drejka reasonably perceived an imminent deadly force threat from McGlockton at the time he fired the shot, it’s important to differentiate between facts and claims that are relevant to that question and those that are not. Frankly, it seemed to me in my quick review of the trial testimony and argument that there was an excessive emphasis on irrelevant matters.

To start, even the video itself is not decisive on the question of whether Drejka was seeing what the video camera was seeing, if only because of differences in position and angle. Also, the camera had not just been thrown violently to the ground, a physical experience that can affect perception. The reasonableness of Drejka’s perception of a threat is properly judged in the context of a person in his circumstances—that is, was it the reasonable perception of a person who had just been violently thrown to the ground?

This is an important issue as well.  I’ve often noted the dangers of relying on police body cameras.  Their narrow field of view doesn’t capture what the human eye can easily see, and video clips often lack context, particularly from the viewpoint of someone facing potentially deadly danger.

Related, it doesn’t matter if McGlockton actually presented a deadly force threat to Drejka. Rather, it only matters if Drejka reasonably perceived such a threat.

By all means, take the link and read Branca’s article.  This is another important point:

There may be circumstances in which it is prudent to speak briefly with police responding to the scene of your self-defense event, although the default position should always be to simply request legal counsel (and medical attention, if appropriate). There is never, however, any good reason to be speaking at length to anyone about the event without first consulting with legal counsel, and there is never, ever, ever any good reason to voluntarily engage with professional interrogators without your legal counsel actually present (if then).

Excellent and experienced advice.  One’s final word should always be: “I’ll be happy to cooperate with you Officer, after I’ve had a chance to speak with my attorney.”  Any sane police officer involved in a shooting would do the same.

McGlockton shoving Drejka

Briefly, the issue for the jury was largely “did Michael Drejka have a reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury or death when he fired?”  There was no element of “Stand Your Ground” present in this case.  View the brief surveillance video at Branca’s article.  You’ll notice McGlockton walked purposefully up to Drejka and brutally shoved him, knocking him some distance to the ground.  As Drejka, still crumpled on the ground, draws his handgun and points it at McGlockton, who is still facing him in what one must reasonably believe to be a threatening manner, McGlockton shuffles several steps backward, obviously recognizing the handgun.  Less than two seconds elapse from when Drejka points the gun and shoots.

McGlockton, fractions of a second before the shot

As Branca notes, this was a judgment call for the jury, which could have gone either way.  Obviously, they did not think Drejka’s decision to shoot when he did reasonable. They did not think a reasonable person would have believed himself to be in imminent danger of seriously bodily injury or death.  Absent that reasonable belief, the shooting was not self-defense.  Again, “Stand Your Ground” was not applicable here.

It’s difficult to make any determination of racial influence here.  McGlockton was Black and Drejka is white.  Did this influence the jury?  There’s no way to know.  Did it influence media coverage?  Almost certainly.  Consider this headline from National Public Radio:

Florida Man Found Guilty Of Manslaughter Despite ‘Stand Your Ground’ Defense

This one from CNN:

Shooter in ‘Stand Your Ground’ trial says Markeis McGlockton ran at him. Video shows otherwise

Actually, the video shows McGlockton walking purposefully toward him. And note this headline from Vox:  

Florida man who used ‘stand your ground’ defense found guilty of manslaughter

Again, if was a self-defense defense. Vox also relies on one of the many lies about the Trayvon Martin case:

While the ‘stand your ground’ law was a factor in the Trayvon Martin case, Zimmerman was ultimately acquitted because of a standard self-defense protection.

Prosecuting attorneys in the McGlockton case argued that, indeed, Drejka faced no imminent harm, since McGlockton backed away after their initial altercation. Those prosecutors said Drejka could have safely retreated and called the police at that point, but that he chose to fire his weapon instead, invalidating any claim of self-defense or of ‘standing his ground.’

I’ve found, and Branca, the foremost authority on self-defense law in America today, will tell you most people, to include lawyers, police officers, and surely the average citizen, know little or nothing about self-defense law.    The media should know better.  After all, they have “layers and layers of editors and fact checkers.”  Just ask them.  They’ll look down their noses, sniff condescendingly, and tell you.  They have the resources to get these legal issues right, including contacting Branca, who is not exactly in hiding.  They might even ask the author of this scruffy little blog who is reasonably well informed on these issues, despite not bearing the burden of being a lawyer.  Yet they constantly get virtually every aspect of self-defense cases wrong.

One is tempted to believe the venerable aphorism that one shouldn’t attribute to nefarious action what can be explained by mere stupidity, and there is a very great deal of that in the media. Most likely, however, is they don’t care to know, and their first concern is always the narrative, so Trayvon Martin will, forever, be a social justice martyr murdered because of a Stand Your Ground law, and whenever a Black person is killed by a white person, Stand Your Ground will be the cause, or at least, significantly involved.

Am I being racist in this assertion?  If the media were equally concerned when Black people shoot each other, daily, in large numbers, in the major, Democrat-ruled cities, one might have a case, but they aren’t and they don’t.

Normal Americans, however, can be certain of this: where guns and the Second Amendment are concerned, the Media are unremittingly hostile, and care little or nothing for accuracy and honesty.  The narrative rules over such niggling details as truth, fact and law, because their ultimate goal is the disarmament of the law-abiding.  This may be an area where honest, normal Americans just might want to stand their ground.