The white Florida man who reignited the state’s “stand your ground” debate earlier this summer — when he fatally shot an unarmed black man who pushed him — says he would do it all over again if he had to.
“I’ve had plenty of time to think about it,” explained Michael Drejka in a jailhouse interview with WTSP-TV.
“As far as changing anything, as events…I don’t see, I really — no, not off the top of my head,” the 47-year-old said, after being asked whether he could think of anything he would’ve done different that day.
“I was very scared. I’ve never been confronted like that, or never been assaulted like that if you will — ever.”
Drejka, who is charged with manslaughter, is accused of fatally shooting 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton outside a convenience store in Clearwater, Fla., on July 19 after being pushed to the ground by him.
He initially went weeks without being arrested on account of the state’s controversial “stand your ground law” — which allows citizens to use deadly force when fearing “imminent death or great bodily harm.”
Asked how he felt after the cops “backed” him and “refused to arrest” him, Drejka said: “Vindicated.”
“I followed the law the way I felt the law was supposed to be followed,” he told WTSP. “I cleared every hurdle that that law had to, had to put in front of me.”
Drejka said he was “shocked” and “devastated” after learning of the State Attorney’s Office’s decision to file manslaughter charges last month.
“I didn’t hear about it until they were putting handcuffs on me,” the alleged killer explained.
He didn’t speak too much about the shooting itself, but did describe the moment he got pushed.
“Didn’t know it was a shove. It felt like I was tackled or someone hit me from behind with something,” Drejka said. “I left my feet and slid along the ground.”
Asked whether he was in fear for his life, Drejka told WTSP: “Yes sir. It was only one other person that was making a move and that move was towards me… I didn’t know what was coming for me and there’s only one way to look at that. You have to be scared for it, ’cause if you’re not, you’re wrong…And that’s that.”
Drejka claimed that he wasn’t racist, despite what others have said about him using the “N-word” in the past and getting into fights with black people at the very same gas station.
“I do not hate anybody,” he said. “I’ve worked with too many people, met too many people in my life to be that kind of person. There’s, there’s no way to survive really, by being like that. It doesn’t help anyone, you know, and to have a, that kind of feeling about an entire race of people seems foreign to me.”
Drejka told WTSP that one of his biggest “pet peeves” in life is the “abuse” of handicapped parking spots, which McGlockton was parked in on the day of the shooting. His girlfriend had been arguing with Drejka when McGlockton ran up and pushed him, surveillance footage shows.
“It’s always been a hotbed for me,” Drejka said, noting how his “high school sweetheart” was handicapped, as is his mother-in-law.
“My whole life has always been looking for a handicapped parking spot, and it’s always touched a nerve with me because of the way they’re abused and used.”
Despite having no remorse, Drejka apologized to McGlockton’s family at one point during the Friday interview — but admitted that it probably wouldn’t do any good.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “That’s all I can really say to them and uh, thinking about it, would you accept those kind of words from someone, I don’t think I would. You know, just to, uh, I think there’s too much hate already to, uh, for me to be able to say anything that would make any kind of difference.”
Drejka is being held on $100,000 bond at the Pinellas County Jail. He is facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
By Chris Perez