By: Shameequa Buxton, Member-Candidate, J.D. Candidate, May 2020, St. Thomas University School of Law

Who would ever imagine that a simple dispute over a parking space would end in death. During summer 2018 in Clearwater, Florida Michael Drejka (“Drejka”) shot and killed Markeis McGlockton (“McGlockton”), after Drejka became upset when McGlockton parked his vehicle in a handicap parking space. Drejka approached the victim’s vehicle and harassed the victim’s girlfriend about the parking space, and yet he was still able to claim the stand your ground defense. Florida’s stand your ground law has raised many concerns throughout the nation and therefore it should be amended.

Florida citizens, who are faced with danger or harm, should have a duty to retreat if the citizen can do so in a safe and reasonable manner. Before the current statute, persons were required to retreat, if they could do so in reasonably safe manner to avoid danger. The statute
was later amended, and the common-law duty to retreat was abolished. The amendment now gives citizens the right to fight force with force, even if they can retreat to a safe place. This amendment is unfavorable because laws should promote the preservation of the human life. This amendment now allows citizens to kill wrongdoers, even when death could have been avoided. If there are reasonable ways that a citizen can retreat to safety, while preserving the life of the wrongdoer, why should the citizen not be required to retreat?

The legislature’s enactment of the amended statute, now gives shooters the excuse to take the life of another human being, when it could have been preserved, and claim they acted out of self-defense. Florida courts have held that victims are allowed to use defensive force that could cause death or great bodily harm, even when the wrongdoer was in retreat at the time the force was used. Courts should not allow citizens to claim immunity, under the statute, when a wrongdoer retreated and left the citizen unharmed. Allowing this policy will encourage the killing or use of deadly force on those who are trying to withdraw from heated situations.
Additionally, in cases where a citizen is in a public place, especially where other citizens are around, the stand your ground defense should not be applied and the citizen should be required to retreat to safety because the use of deadly force puts other patrons in the area at risk of harm.

Lastly, persons should also be required to retreat to safety because one should not be allowed to “stand their ground” in public places in which others are entitled to be. Therefore, the statute should be amended back to require a duty to retreat when it could be achieved in a safe manner that will not cause harm to the retreater or the wrongdoer.