Do You Have the Right to Stand Your Ground?

By Dave Dolbee published on in Legal, Safety and Training

On July 19, 2018, Markeis McGlockton was shot and killed outside a convenience store in Clearwater, Florida, after a confrontation with a legally armed citizen. The man who shot him was identified as Michael Drejka, who McGlockton shoved to the ground for confronting McGlockton’s girlfriend over a parking space.

Stand Your Ground extends the rights to defend ourselves outside the home with no duty to retreat. Picture By: Oleg Volk

Stand Your Ground extends the rights to defend ourselves outside the home with no duty to retreat.

Initially, Drejka was not arrested because the Pinellas County sheriff stated that “stand your ground” law applies to this case since Drejka feared a further attack after being shoved to the ground.

After a review of the case by Florida State Attorney Bernie McCabe, Drejka, 48, was charged with manslaughter and booked into the Pinellas County Jail. His bail was set at $100,000.

A Matter of Seconds

You’ve probably seen the surveillance video of this incident all over the news. According to law enforcement, there were four–five seconds between Drejka hitting the ground and him firing the deadly shot.

In addition, detectives estimated the men were about 10 feet apart. Here’s the thing. McGlockton no doubt violently shoved Drejka to the ground. In the video, it appears McGlockton did not back away after shoving Drejka until he saw the gun.

This begs the following questions: Could McGlockton have seriously injured or killed Drejka if he continued attacking him? He could have. Even though Drejka was shoved to the ground, was McGlockton still a threat? Maybe. Was Drejka truly in fear for his life? He says so.

The thing is we could talk “what ifs” about this case all day, but the fact remains that one man is dead and another’s life is devastated over a parking spot and a shove to the ground.

While this case will play out for a long time to come, I want to share with you the basic elements of stand your ground laws and the “castle doctrine,” which relates to protecting yourself at home.

Protect Your Person

Remember, I’m not a lawyer and I’m only stating my thoughts regarding these types of laws. You should always consult with an attorney in your state regarding these laws.

One of the most well-known states with a stand your ground law is Florida because of the case mentioned above and similar cases such as the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Many states have laws similar to Florida’s, which basically states a person is justified in using deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves or others. It also states a person does not have a duty to retreat as long as they are in a place where they have the right to be.

So, if we use this definition to examine the case above, both men were in a place they had the right to be. The question that remains is did Drejka reasonably believe that he had to use deadly force to prevent death or bodily harm to himself? Imagine if you were Drejka. He was forcefully shoved to the ground, he was probably afraid, his heart was pounding — what would you do?

On the other hand, could Drejka have simply stood up and walked away from McGlockton? Was McGlockton going to pursue him? Obviously, these are answers that will play out in court.

However, the key thing to remember is that you have to believe the person is still a threat to justify using deadly force.

Protect Your Property

In addition to stand your ground, another controversial law is the castle doctrine. Many states have some type of castle doctrine law, which says a person has the legal right to defend themselves with the use of deadly force against an intruder in their home or other property.

Under this legal theory, the homeowner is not required to retreat, but may stand their ground to defend themselves, their home or their property. Now, this law is more straightforward than stand your ground because it’s pretty reasonable that every person should be able to defend his or her family from an intruder in their home.

In other words, if someone is inside your home, they are committing a crime, and you have every right to protect your family.

However, one of the times this law was disputed was in the 2014 case of a Montana man named Markus Kaarma, who shot a young man in his garage. Kaarma had been the victim of a home burglary, so he stayed up at night in case the burglars came back.

Prosecutors argued that Kaarma lured the young man into the garage by leaving it open and that Markus was staying up all night to enact revenge for the previous burglary. The young man who died was committing a crime when he entered the garage, but the jury decided the homeowner deliberately lured the young man there before he killed him.

The Bottom Line

These types of laws will always be contested and are easily affected by our political climate. But what it really comes down to is common sense: Is the person still a threat, and can they still kill you?

If someone kicks in your door at 3 a.m. and runs at you in your house, then by all means they’re a threat. But if someone tries to kick in your door at 3 a.m. and you yell that you’ve got a gun and they take off down the street… Don’t go chasing them and shoot them in the back because they’re no longer a threat.

Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, visit www.SpyEscape.com.

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Comments (27)

  • Bob Campbell

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    The gun is there to save your life, period. No other reason.

    It is a last resort. If you are afraid to fight and use the open hand then you had best not pick an argument. This is mutual combat if you do.
    If you like getting into fights then leave the gun at home.

    Stand your ground is a good law. It is basically a reaction to many laws in the People’s Republics that specified you had to leave even your own home to avoid a confrontation. That is un American.
    Donut abuse the law.

    Reply

  • Jeffrey Koon

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    INTERESTING NOTE: Went to advertised website to get the “free” book and even searching the website came up with zero (0) results. NICE and I think fraud.

    Reply

  • Jack Copeland

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    The problem with this situation is a person confronted another person parked in a handicap space. He put himself in a situation that allowed violence to begin. I would not think too kindly if someone, without authority, began yelling at my wife over her parking habits. The person killed did not have the right to shove the other, not did the he have the right to complain about the parking space. The girl could have pulled a gun and shot him because he confronted her.

    Reply

  • Phil

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    Should I stand my ground? I don’t really have a choice… I’m a paraplegic – I look like the perfect victim/target in my wheelchair. I can’t run away but I’m not going to just sit in my chair and take an ass whipping either. If anyone advances on me with evil intent, they had best be prepared to be shot because it will happen, and a lot sooner than if I was an able bodied victim.

    Reply

  • John

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    I deeply believe that anyone should be able to defend them selves against anyone who is threatening them of harm or robbery. ANYONE, and be able to do it in an overwhelming manner! We don’t have to play even for even when threatened!

    Reply

  • William Lawrence Antonio

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    I’m in Florida and I don’t see how you seen something then I did. Clearly you can see with both eyes that he wasn’t a Threat anymore and that’s why the State charged him. As a ex NYC Police Officer when someone is retreating from another person the threat is gone, period. The video clearly shows him retreating to his car. When the guy got up from the ground you can see the other guy turn around to see, which to me means he was yelled. When he was shot he was nowhere towards the other person. As you said you’re not a Lawyer but being from the CIA doesn’t make you a Police Officer or State Attorney General who reviewed it and made the right decision. It wasn’t Stand your Ground. I’m a Florida CCW carrier, Disabled Nam veteran and worked six years as a NYC Police Officer before becoming a Firefighter. Tx you

    Reply

    • Bob Campbell

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      You are one hundred per cent correct.
      Thanks for your service and thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  • sls4ak

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    The standards have been relaxed to such a degree that we have to rely upon personal ethics rather than law. The law school dictionary that I used in my youth defined words citing case law. Eminent was defined as being immediate and irrevocable. The cited case law referenced when two women at a campfire had an altercation, one woman had a knife and the other used a pistol. The gun wielder had the right to use deadly force in the case of eminent danger. Since she fired her gun from 20 feet and across the campfire the court determined that she had not been in eminent danger and sentenced her for manslaughter.

    In the end we as gun owners and CCW bearers can never get complacent or cavalier about the taking of others lives. Everyday carry is a burden not ever to be taken lightly.

    Reply

  • 70's Ops

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    I think an important factor also is age. 10 or so years ago I’d have jumped up and knocked his ass out. Now, however, I may have shot him too. Not that I can’t still kick a little ass, but why. It’ll take me days if not weeks to recover from a decent fight now, being deep into my 60’s. I’ve paid my dues, now some punk wants to push me down!!
    Yeah…..perhaps deadly force was a tad of an overreaction, but you can see the mindset. Believe me, not a day goes by that I dont kill several people, IN MY HEAD!!! Haven’t HAD to kill since the 70’s. Hopefully it’ll stay just like that. But I have a good buffer, and I carry. Some people just dont have the tolerance to let stuff slide. They also should be gun shooters not gun owners. Go to the range, have some fun, but leave ownership to those of us that can carry for 30 years or so, and NOT KILL.

    As always
    Carry on

    Reply

  • Bilbo

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    I happen to agree with the Florida State Attorney in this case. I have seen the video two or three times and Drejka was not in imminent danger. Was there danger present, yes; was it imminent, no. He had ample opportunity to display and warn of deadly force before the actual need. You state “..you have to believe the person is still a threat..” ; which to me is open ended. By that I mean that there is a murky line between what constitutes a “possible” threat and an “imminent” threat. Other than a firearm or bow a person can be a threat at 10 yards and that threat, more times than not, won’t be imminent. There have been numerous cases in the last decade where opportunity took precedence over need. Where revenge, however immediate; was the bottom line not life & limb. Actually, few cases balance on a razors edge. Lots of people carrying these days that are not well-balanced and levelheaded with little or no firearms experience or training that have never been “in a tough spot”. Additionally,…” Is the person still a threat, and can they still kill you?” are widely separated realities. One requires intense focus, the other deadly force. Remember, District attorneys cut a fine line; ……they have to; for the sake of all of us.

    Querying your state and local authorities is excellent advice.

    Thanks for the article.

    Reply

  • karl

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    There is no “Stand Your Ground” provision and “The Castle Defense” is a farce in this Marxist paradise of New York State.I hope you all vote against Andrew Cuomo&co this November.That miscreant has national ambitions.Lord help the USA

    Reply

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