Recently in Clearwater Florida, in front of a convenience store, Michael Drejka shot and killed Markeis McGlockton. over an argument about the latter's girlfriend parking in a handicapped slot. (Google “FL convenience store parking spot shooting” for video links and comments.) At this writing, the local Sheriff has stated that Drejka would not be charged.
As The Tampa Bay Times reported:
The incident falls under Florida’s self-defense law known as “stand your ground,” the sheriff said during a news conference. The law gives immunity to those in fear of their lives who use force to defend themselves. The shooting “is within the bookends of ‘stand your ground’ and within the bookends of force being justified,” the sheriff said, later adding, “I’m not saying I agree with it, but I don’t make that call.”
A few days later, in Ft. Lauderdale, a man was stabbed to death in an argument over … a handicapped parking spot! The individual who killed him in this case has been charged with second-degree murder.
Such “cautionary tales” as these offer much about which to inform us.
Looking at the Incident:
When Drejka was surprised and body-slammed to the concrete, he had good reason to fear for his life. He was confronted by a much larger, immediately hostile man. Fortunately for him (as the video demonstrates) his head did not hit the pavement, which could have caused brain damage or death, but his upper body no doubt absorbed severe impact.
While it is “obvious,” looking at the video, that McGlockton may have been starting to retreat, it is also “obvious” that from the ground, with tachypsychia–altering perception of time and space, Drejka may have still felt he was in danger of being killed … so he drew and fired. Could he – should he – have just drawn and not fired?
Looking at “What could this become?”
If either the shooter or the deceased had rewound their behaviors leading up to the event, they might have achieved a level of clarity keeping them from initiating the cascading series of events that led to this arguably avoidable outcome.
Reportedly, Drejka had engaged in altercations like this with others. Who appointed him guardian of parking slots in the public arena? What was the greatest potential gain he could expect to receive in relation to the possible downside for this kind of behavior? In other words, did he ever make a cost-benefit analysis? Is even the most remote possibility of having to kill someone over a parking space really worth it?
As for McGlockton – was defending his girl friend's behavior by immediately and aggressively attacking Drejka really worth getting shot to death? Did he ever consider this outcome? Did he understand that, no matter how big you are, how “capable” in defending yourself, you can never really be certain of what you're going up against in a given situation? That the only way even a “black belt” can always win a fight is to not have it in the first place?
Keeping the Mantle of Innocence over your head
The mantle of innocence, a legal/ethical concept which sometimes plays itself out in a courtroom, can help “parse out” guilt/innocence. If you're cut off in traffic, do you keep it going by tail-gating the offender, giving him the finger? Pulling off with him to the side of the road? If so, his guilt starts to drain away and yours edges up, because you have perpetuated the argument. If it ends up in a shootout/accident, you may be found partially at fault.
In the convenience store discharge, a case can be made that progression toward DEFCON 1 unwound so quickly as to be almost irreversible, because of how both individuals had probably become accustomed to dealing with altercations. In other words, getting killed/killing someone over such a matter was pretty much baked in the cake because of a previous lack of reflection by these men as to what they might be willing to die for.
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should
This incident can be discussed until the cows come home. But reflecting on a few core elements goes a long way toward helping understand how arguing over a parking space, telling someone they should not litter on the street, asking someone to turn off their cell phone in a theater – and yes, in today's hyper-charged climate, accosting someone because they sport a hat, shirt, or bumper sticker with a political statement – can lead to injury, death, and enormous legal consequences.
As even the most innocently-beginning encounter gets underway, ask yourself this: “What might this lead to? Am I really willing to kill someone over this … or perhaps die trying?”
To listen to the podcast episode on this shooting, visit this page.