Renisha McBride (Courtesy Photo)
DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) — Protesters and civil rights groups are calling for justice after a suburban Detroit homeowner fatally shot a 19-year-old woman on his porch.
No charges have been filed after authorities said Renisha McBride, of Detroit, was killed by a shotgun blast to the face early last Saturday in Dearborn Heights. A man told investigators that he thought someone was trying to break into his home and accidentally discharged the gun, according to police.
McBride’s family said she likely approached the home to seek help after getting into a car accident nearby.
From left, Pastor W. J. Rideout of Detroit Good Jobs Now, Renisha McBride’s Aunt Bernita Spinks of Detroit and Ron Scott of Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality speaking to the press during a vigil in Dearborn Heights, Mich.,Wednesday Nov. 6, 2013, for Renisha McBride in the front of the home where she shot early Saturday. (AP Photo/Detroit News, )
“She was shot in the front of the face, near the mouth,” police Lt. James Serwatowski told the Detroit Free Press.
Friends and family filled a Detroit church Friday for a three-hour funeral, which was closed to reporters. Outside the service, an aunt, Kay Lumpkin, said McBride was a former cheerleader who graduated from Southfield High School in 2012.
The theme of the funeral “was, it’s a tragedy that didn’t have to happen and not to let this be swept under the rug,” Lumpkin said.
Police made a request for charges, but the Wayne County prosecutor’s office sent it back Wednesday for additional investigation. A vigil was held that same day outside the home, and about 50 people rallied Thursday outside the Police Department.
“It’s hard to … believe it’s an accident when a gun is in her face and the trigger is pulled,” the family’s attorney, Gerald Thurswell, told The Detroit News.
The 54-year-old homeowner hasn’t been arrested or named by police.
“I’m confident when the evidence comes it will show that my client was justified and acted as a reasonable person would who was in fear for his life,” Cheryl Carpenter, one of two lawyers representing the man, told The Detroit News.
Her client’s race has not been reported, and she did not return a message left by The Associated Press seeking comment. McBride was an African-American.
McBride’s death has drawn attention from civil rights groups including the NAACP and the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. They called for a thorough investigation.
“We join the greater Detroit community in mourning her passing and will closely monitor the developing investigation and legal proceedings,” said U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Detroit, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.