Police are investigating the shooting of a 19-year-old girl who was shot dead while standing outside the front porch of a home in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. The family of Renisha McBride say she knocked on the door to the home seeking help for a car accident after her cell phone battery died, and was met with a deadly gunshot to the head, according to The Detroit News.
“He shot her in the head … for what? For knocking on his door,” McBride’s aunt, Bernita Spinks, told the Detroit News. “If he felt scared or threatened, he should have called 911. … You see a young black lady on your porch and you shoot?”
Police would not provide details about the facts leading up to the shooting, stating in a press release only that she was “fatally shot while standing on the front porch of the home.” They say they have identified the person who shot and killed the woman, and referred the case to prosecutors.
Last month, police in North Carolina fatally shot a man who was seeking help after a car accident. Jonathan A. Ferrell, a 24-year-old former Florida A&M University football player, also knocked on the door of a home nearby seeking help, according to reports. But in this instance, an occupant did call the police. As Ferrell approached the police, they hit him with a Taser and then shot him. One of the officers was charged with voluntary manslaughter.
It is not yet known whether authorities will arrest the Michigan shooter. A representative for the Wayne County Prosecutor declined to provide details, saying only that they are reviewing the police report to determine whether to press charges. But like more than 20 other states, Michigan has a set of expanded self-defense laws that grew out of NRA lobbying. In addition to passing a “Stand Your Ground” law in 2006 that expands the sanctioned use of deadly force outside the home, it also expanded the so-called “Castle Doctrine,” which allows deadly force to protect one’s dwelling, to include areas around the home such as a yard or porch. In other states, this expanded Castle Doctrine has been used to justify shooting a burglar targeting a neighbor’s home, and the fatal shooting of a 20-year-old who walked onto a neighbor’s porch to escape a potential police bust of underaged drinking. In other instances, shooters have cited such laws as a defense for vigilantism surrounding their property.
According to new information from the Detroit Free Press, the unidentified homeowner told police that his shotgun accidentally discharged. Lt. James Serwatowski, chief detective, told the newspaper that McBride was shot in the face, not in the back of the head, as McBride’s aunt had been suggesting. Serwatowski also confirmed that McBride was in a car accident, but said about two hours transpired between the time of the accident and the shooting. The gun is now being analyzed by the police crime lab, as the investigation continues.