Family demands conviction after autopsy shows woman with car trouble shot in face

By: ABC News Email
By: ABC News Email
Renisha McBride, 19, died early on the morning of Nov. 2 in Dearborn Heights, Mich.

Renisha McBride, 19, was shot and killed early on the morning of Nov. 2, 2013, in Dearborn Heights, Mich. (courtesy McBride Family/ABC News)

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Dearborn Heights, Mich. -- The family of a Michigan woman who was shot to death outside a home after a car accident is demanding a conviction for the shooter, who has been neither arrested nor charged, as the woman's autopsy results show that she died from a gunshot wound to the face.

Renisha McBride, 19, died early on the morning of Nov. 2 in Dearborn Heights, Mich.

"The family is more concerned in getting a conviction after he's charged than just getting him charged," McBride family attorney Gerald Thurswell told ABCNews.com today. "The only way justice will be served is by getting a conviction, not just by filing charges."

Thurswell said he believes the prosecutor is reconsidering the request for a warrant. He said the prosecutor is reviewing the request and asking for toxicology reports on McBride, more ballistic information and McBride's cellphone records.

The Wayne County prosecutor's office spokeswoman, Maria Miller, said today that the office "waiting to receive several items relating to the investigation from the Dearborn Heights Police Department at this time. We have begun the warrant review process. News will be released when a charging decision has been made."

McBride's family has said they believe the woman was going door-to-door looking for help after her car broke down and her cellphone died.

McBride's autopsy report from the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office, released Monday, shows that she was shot in the face and there was "no evidence of close range discharge of a firearm."

The death was ruled a homicide, but the unnamed shooter, to whom police said they have spoken, has not been arrested.

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office declined to issue a warrant last week and asked police to investigate further.

Attorney Thurswell said the family has faith that the prosecutor will act in their favor and they appreciate her careful consideration, which he said includes investigators from the prosecutor's office, in addition to police investigators.

The attorney believes the media reports that the shooter is a 54-year-old, white male are correct. Police have not identified the shooter by name because he has not been charged.

The incident has drawn national attention and raised questions for some people about whether the shooting could have been racially motivated.

Thurswell said many questions remain about what happened in the moments leading up to the shooting, including whether the shooter looked out the window before he came outside, whether his porch light was on or turned on in the middle of the night, as well as when and whether he determined McBride's race, African-American.

"Whether it was racially motivated or it wasn't racially motivated, justice will only be served with this man's conviction," he said.

Authorities told the Detroit Free Press that the shooter told police he "believed the girl was breaking into the home" and that the "gun discharged accidentally."

Thurswell does not believe that Michigan's "Stand Your Ground" law will hold up in this case.

"He [the shooter] has to believe reasonably that his life was in imminent danger and there's no way a 5-foot-4-inches woman, unarmed, facing the shotgun is going to cause him to feel that he's in imminent danger," Thurswell said. "He may make the claim, but it will never fly."

The alleged shooter's attorney did not immediately respond to request for comment. The Dearborn Heights Police Department has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

"He shouldn't be free. He killed her," Detroit pastor W.J. Rideout told ABCNews.com Friday after her funeral. "He shot her, whether it was accidental or to commit murder or a crime."

McBride's family reached out to Rideout, who is also a civil and human rights activist, to speak on behalf of the family.

"This is a senseless murder," pastor Rideout told ABCNews.com. "We will not tolerate another Trayvon Martin, another Jonathan Ferrell. And here we have Renisha McBride, the third African-American who didn't have a weapon in her hand and didn't do anything to deserve being shot."

In September, former Florida A&M University football player Jonathan Ferrell, 24, was gunned down by a police officer while looking for help at a woman's home after a car crash.

In 2012, Trayvon Martin, 17, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder this summer.


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