DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) — Prosecutors said Wednesday that they are reviewing possible charges against a suburban Detroit homeowner in the shooting death of a 19-year-old woman on his porch earlier this month after police provided additional material they had requested.
Earlier this week, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said it had begun a warrant review process related to the Nov. 2 death of Renisha McBride, who was shot in the face outside a Dearborn Heights home in the early morning hours. The office said Wednesday that Dearborn Heights police have provided them with “additional investigation” material that will assist in their review of the case.
Few details of the circumstances surrounding the shooting have been made public. Police say they believe McBride was involved in a car accident nearby in Detroit and family members say she likely approached the man’s home in search of help.
The Associated Press has left several messages with Dearborn Heights police and the homeowner’s attorney seeking comment. The 54-year-old homeowner has not been named because he hasn’t been charged.
Detroit police Sgt. Michael Woody said 911 dispatchers received a call about 1 a.m. to report a non-injury car accident several blocks north of where the shooting later occurred. The caller said the driver fled after hitting a parked car, but Woody said no units were sent because the call was lower priority and police were tied up with other calls.
Woody said another caller said the driver was back at the vehicle about a half-hour later, but nobody was there by the time police and rescue workers arrived. He said the car belongs to a member of McBride’s family and that police believe McBride was driving it when it was wrecked but can’t prove it.
Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in, said Curt Benson, who teaches at Thomas M. Cooley Law School. “But if they’re not breaking in, you have to show you honestly believed your life was in danger,” Benson said.
“We don’t expect homeowners to behave perfectly. We don’t expect perfection. The standard is reasonableness,” Benson said.
In certain cases, prosecutors and jurors could decide that a call to 911 would be more reasonable, he said.
The shooting has prompted calls for justice and a thorough investigation from civil rights groups that say race was a factor. McBride was an African-American, but the race of the homeowner has not been revealed by authorities involved in the case. The Rev. Charles Williams II, pastor of Historic King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit and a leader of advocacy efforts for McBride’s family, expressed confidence that Prosecutor Kym Worthy would handle the case fairly.
“She will bring justice in this situation,” Williams said Tuesday. “We do place our full faith and trust in the prosecutor.”
The northeast section of Dearborn Heights neighbors Detroit’s far west side and is a diverse area that’s home to white, black and Arab-American residents. The neighborhood where the shooting took place consists mostly of well-kept bungalows and small ranches, and is near a community college branch campus and a mosque.
Salam Salame, who lives next door to the house where McBride was killed, said she and her family were sleeping and didn’t know what had happened. She said police had been out on Tuesday canvassing the neighborhood.
Salame described her neighbor as a good man who lives alone.
“He never did anything to bother anybody,” she said.