Does Texas have a “Stand Your Ground” law?
It sure does, and the shooting in Clearwater, Florida, last week about a handicapped parking space shows that it is all too easy for the law to be misinterpreted.
The background of the shooting: Britany Jacobs pulled into a handicapped parking space at a convenience store while her boyfriend Markeis McGlockton, 28, went into the store with his son to buy snacks.
A short time later, Michael Drejka, 47, pulled into an adjoining space and confronted Jacobs about why she was parked in that space. McGlockton came out of the store, confronted Drejka about why he was yelling at Jacobs and pushed him.
Drejka fell to the ground, pulled a gun out of his pocket and shot McGlockton once in the chest. McGlockton staggered into the store, clutching his chest and died while his son looked on.
Drejka was not charged for manslaughter or murder. He was freed, with the local sheriff, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri saying that his hands were tied in the case because of the “Stand Your Ground” law.
He said that the law has“created a standard, that is a largely subjective standard” for the use of deadly force by a shooter.
Both Florida and Texas laws allow use of deadly force in the case of “imminent death or great bodily harm.”
The Texas Penal Code Title 2 states that use of force is only to be used if there is an imminent threat of harm or death. This law allows the force to be used when someone is unlawfully or forcefully entering your home, vehicle or place of business.
The problems are many in this case. Drejka has a concealed handgun license.
Yet classes for a CHL clearly state that anyone with a gun should not provoke in a fight; instead, you are taught to always de-escalate a situation, not contribute to it.
Drejka obviously, after watching tapes, escalated the fight.
Finally, Drejka wasn’t anywhere near imminent danger or great bodily harm. He was pushed to the ground because he was yelling at a woman.
Sure, Jacobs should not have pulled into the handicapped parking space. Maybe she should have driven around to the other side of the store for a parking space.
But she stayed with the car while McGlockton ran inside for a snack.
The Florida situation had so many things going wrong.
But in the end, Drejka had a choice to make – a lot of choices – and the one he decided on, to pull a gun and shoot McGlockton, was a wrong choice. It seems that Drejka didn’t really listen in his CHL classes. He used a gun and escalated the sitution.
And a man is dead because of it.
Could something like this happen in Texas? It has already, several times. In 2016, a man was shot in Houston in a traffic altercation. He was never charged with murder, because a Texas law, passed in 2007, stated that civilians have no “duty to retreat” from their cars or trucks. They can use deadly force in self-defense.
The caution here is to “drive off” and leave a situation. Trigger-happy gun supporters – not all gun owners, but the ones who would use a gun rather than conversation or argument – seem all too willing to take actions that provoke a situation, rather tha de-escalating a fight.
Drive off and maybe go straight to your state representative’s office, demanding that this law be changed.