Less than a week after she was killed by a shotgun blast to the face while seeking help for a car accident, Renisha McBride went to her final resting place on Friday, the latest civil rights figure in a panoply of slain young African Americans.
A steady stream of people entered the House of Prayer and Praise church in Detroit on Friday for the funeral of McBride, 19, who was shot to death about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday on the porch of a home in Dearborn Heights, Mich. Civil rights leaders have called for an investigation of the shooting using language that recalls the racially charged deaths of Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till and Yusef Hawkins.
The family and her supporters say the woman, who was a recent graduate of Southfield High School and had just gotten a job at Ford Motor Co., was in a car accident in the early morning hours. Her cellphone battery was dead so she walked several blocks seeking help at a house. The person inside, a man who has not been named, went to the door and fired a shotgun in her face, according to police reports.
"It's hard to be believe it's an accident when a gun is in her face and the trigger is pulled," the family's attorney, Gerald Thurswell, told reporters.
"It appears this young woman was merely seeking help following a car accident as her cellphone went dead," said a statement by leaders of the Detroit branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. "After knocking on a neighbor's door, instead of being aided in the situation or police called for an investigation, she was shot fatally in the head. Have we become a society where we are no longer our neighbors' keeper?
"This shooting must be investigated at every level," said the civil rights group, one of several involved in the case.
All have called for an investigation into the shooting and the familiar refrain of "No Justice, No Peace" was chanted by about 50 people protesting at the Dearborn Heights police station this week. That slogan was frequent battle cry during the protests over the acquittal of George Zimmerman who shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida.
"We are in prayer for the family of Renisha McBride but we are also urgently calling for justice," the Rev. Al Sharpton, also involved with Martin family, said in a statement. Sharpton's National Action Network is one of the groups calling for an investigation in Michigan.
No charges have been filed in the case, but authorities have said they were investigating. According to police, the man told investigators that he thought someone was trying to break into his home and accidentally discharged the gun.
Earlier this week, police said they requested a warrant in the case. The Wayne County prosecutor's office sent the request back to police Wednesday for additional investigation before making a charging decision.
"We will not be able to make a charging decision until the requested work has been completed," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.
"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 unnamed man, told the Detroit News.