Renisha McBride (1994-2013), a 19-year-old Black American woman from Detroit, was shot dead in the nearby White American suburb of Dearborn Heights at 2.30am on Saturday November 2nd 2013. Just like Jonathan Ferrell two months before, she had been in a car accident and was looking for help. But this time it was not the police who shot her dead but the man who answered the door. She was unarmed.
Note: The following is based on accounts given by the police and McBride’s family in the five days following the shooting.
According to police, the shooter says that he was afraid of a break-in and that his shotgun went off in her face by accident. Yet he did not call 911 afterwards. He left her dead on his porch.
The police at first said her body was dumped in Dearborn Heights, as if the murder had taken place in Detroit. Later they said she was shot where they found her (the 16000 block of Outer Drive near Warren Avenue) and believe it was self-defence. The police did not tell McBride’s family about her death till two days later.
The family thinks it was a case of racial profiling: there was no sign of a break-in, like a broken window or anything like that, she was a hard-working, soft-spoken woman who kept to herself. She had just started work at Ford Motor Company.
Dearborn Heights (86% White) is right next to Detroit (82% Black).
Car accident: McBride was driving through Dearborn Heights when her 2001 white Ford Taurus was hit. Her mobile phone was apparently dead. The police found her shot dead four blocks away from her car some hours after the accident.
The coroner says she was shot in the head. The police say it was in the face near the mouth. The family said it was in the back of the head.
Five days later the shooter is not under arrest The police refuse to say who it is. They have asked the county prosecutor’s office for an arrest warrant. The county is still looking into it.
The state has a Stand Your Ground law, like Florida where Trayvon Martin was killed. As journalist Rania Khalek notes on her blog:
The problem with a law like Stand Your Ground is that it excuses and encourages deadly force against “perceived” threats. In the United States, where implicit and structural racism persists on a vast scale, is it wise to empower people who almost certainly have irrational and racist fears, to kill instead of call police who are trained (at least they’re supposed to be) to deal with potential threats?
Race also appears to play a significant role in whether a homicide is deemed justifiable. A recent study conducted by John Roman of the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center found, “the odds that a white-on-black homicide is ruled to have been justified is more than 11 times the odds a black-on-white shooting is ruled justified,” a reflection of the racial disparities that plague all aspects of the US criminal justice system.