ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri initially said he didn't have any comment on a pair of rallies held over the weekend in response to the deadly shooting of Markeis McGlockton.
But, in response to a reporter's question during an unrelated news conference Monday, he dismissed Rev. Al Sharpton's appearance Sunday afternoon at St. John Primitive Baptist Church in Clearwater.
"It's just a bunch of rhetoric," Gualtieri said. "I didn't pay much attention to it to tell you the truth. I wasn't there and don't really care what Al Sharpton has to say. Go back to New York. Mind your own business."
During Sunday's rally inside the church, Rev. Al Sharpton called for Gualtieri to, “Lock him [Michael Drejka] up or turn in your badge."
"It's called politics and they're politicking," Gualtieri said on Monday. "The facts and law matter. Learn the facts and learn the law, and then you can opine, but until you learn the facts and learn the law, but again, in politics, that's what you're going to get."
The back-and-forth between Gualtieri and Sharpton stems from the July 19 shooting of McGlockton by Drejka outside of a Clearwater Circle A convenience store.
A surveillance video showed Drejka arguing with McGlockton’s girlfriend about her parking in a space for a person with disabilities. Then, McGlockton came out of the store and pushed Drejka to the ground. Seconds later, Drejka pulled out his gun and shot McGlockton, who later died.
Gualtieri didn’t arrest Drejka, citing Florida’s “stand your ground” law. The state attorney's office has yet to weigh in on whether "stand your ground" applies in this case.
"It is not the sheriff's job to determine whether 'stand your ground' applies," Sharpton said. "That ought to be decided in a courtroom and the state attorney's office."
On Sunday, Sharpton also called for the repeal of the controversial Florida law.
"If you don't like that [Drejka] is not sitting in jail, go to talk to the legislature," Gualtieri said during a news conference last month.
Gualtieri said on July 31 that he, "supports the concept of the 'stand your ground' law."
"I think that there's room for discussion about some changes to it," Gualtieri said. "I think there is room to tweak it, to tighten it up in some areas, but the concept itself, I support and strongly support."
During his rally Sunday, Sharpton said deputies should have arrested Drejka.
The sheriff's office has turned the case over to the state attorney's office.
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