Renisha McBride was a 19-year-old resident of Detroit, Michigan. She lived with her mother, worked full time and had just graduated high school in 2012. In the very early hours of November 2, she got into a car accident and began searching the neighborhood for some help. She knocked on doors, hoping someone would answer. When, at last, a door opened, Renisha faced the last person who would ever see her alive. The homeowner who answered her knock came to the door armed with a shotgun. Instead of receiving the help she was seeking, Renisha McBride was shot in the head and killed.
The homeowner claims that he thought she was trying to break into his house. Since Michigan is a Stand Your Ground state, self defense could be utilized as a defense tactic should charges be brought against him.
According to police and witness reports, Renisha was involved in a car accident in the early morning hours of November 2. Her cell phone was dead so she began wandering around the neighborhood looking for assistance. She was found by some residents who lived close to where the accident occurred and was reported to have been bleeding from the head and saying “I want to go home,” over and over again. While the neighbors called for help, Renisha wandered off and the neighbors were unable to locate her, despite driving around in search of her.
Reports vary as to whether an hour or “some hours,” passed, but Renisha spent this time knocking on doors in search of aid. Eventually, her efforts at seeking help would lead her to the porch where Renisha McBride would be killed by the homeowner in question.
Her family is claiming that her death is a case of racial profiling and are calling for charges to be brought up against the man who shot Renisha. They claim that she was shot in the back of the head as she was trying to leave. While he does not comment on the racial profiling aspect, Chief Detective, Lt. James Serwatowski, says Renisha was not shot in the back of the head, however. It appears that Renisha was instead shot in the face, though no official reports have been released to confirm this.
Part of the outrage over this case comes from the notion that a young, injured girl who was knocking on doors was perceived as a threat. Bernita Spinks, Renisha’s aunt, said in an interview for The Detroit News, “He shot her in the head…for what? For knocking on the door. If he felt scared or threatened, he should have called 911.”
This is a sentiment that has been echoed by many, including the attorney representing the family, Gerald Thurswell, who expanded his assertion that the man should have called for help by expressing his incredulity that the shooting was an accident. “He decided to open the door, go out on the porch and put a shotgun in her face,” he said, “It’s pretty hard for it to be an accident: your finger is on the trigger and the shotgun is in her face.”
So far no charges have been filed, though the investigation is complete and the evidence has been handed over to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, who are requesting follow up work before making a decision on whether or not to press charges.
While Thurswell argues that detectives should be given enough time to investigate thoroughly in hopes of making any charges filed stick, the family of Renisha McBride and local supporters are not backing down on their demands that there be justice for the young woman who was killed while seeking help. They held a peaceful protest outside of the police station, during which they called for justice and hoped to bring attention to the disproportionate number of unarmed black individuals who are being shot and killed as the result of Stand Your Ground laws nationwide.
By Vanessa Blanchard