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Family demands charges after unarmed 19-year-old woman shot dead in potential "Stand Your Ground" case

Courtesy the McBride Family

Renisha McBride

A young, black Detroit woman was shot in the head and killed on a front porch while seeking help after a car accident over the weekend — and her family and local activists are outraged the shooter has yet to be charged.

The case is now drawing comparisons to Trayvon Martin and Jonathan Ferrell, the former college football player who was killed in North Carolina. 

Renisha McBride, 19, was fatally shot while standing on the front porch of a home in the suburb of Dearborn Heights outside Detroit on Saturday, according to police.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner said she died of a shotgun wound to the head.

The Dearborn Heights Police Department said they responded to a call of a shooting in the early morning hours at a house on Outer Drive, adding that they have “identified the person who fired the shot and killed the woman.” No one has been charged.

With her cell phone dead, McBride's family believes she was seeking help at the residence following a car accident, according to her maternal aunt, Bernita Spinks.

“She probably wanted to ask him to make a call for her or if she could use the phone,” she told The Detroit News

Local police requested a warrant from the Wayne County Prosecutor Office on Wednesday, but the request was sent back to police later that afternoon for additional investigation. 

"We have asked that further investigation be conducted by the police in this case," Maria Miller, a spokesman for the Wayne County Prosecutor, said in a statement. "We will not be able to make a charging decision until the requested work has been completed."

Miller added that McBride's parents were informed on the decision.

Police said they are currently working on the investigation to send the request back the the prosecutor's office. 

It was outside that very home where the shooting took place that McBride’s family, friends and local community members gathered on Wednesday evening to hold a vigil for the teen.

“Last night we all shed tears,” said Rev. W. J. Rideout, a community activist. “I prayed with the family last time. We made sure the rally was very peaceful but it was painful.” 

The reverend said that he and the family believe race was a factor in the shooting, and that the incident was all too reminiscent of the shootings of Trayvon Martin in Feb. 2012 and Jonathan Ferrell this September. 

George Zimmerman of Florida was found not guilty of second degree murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in July after a jury found he acted in self-defense.

Michigan currently has a self-defense act similar to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law that played a role in the case against Zimmerman.

Under the Michigan law, an individual not engaged in a crime may use deadly force against another if said individual "honestly and reasonably" believes deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death, bodily harm, or sexual assault. 

Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a black former college football player at Florida A&M,  was shot ten times by police and killed in Sept. in North Carolina despite being unarmed while also apparently seeking help after a car accident. 

"[McBride] was unarmed, this was not a case of forced entry or intimidation," Rev. Rideout said. 

"The family feels their rights have been violated and justice has been taken away from them until they take this man and charge him with something," Rev. Rideout said. "We stood there on his grass where the murder took place to let him know and America know that we are not going to stand for this."

Rustling was heard at the home during the vigil, but no one came forward despite repeated knocks on the door, he said.

While he said was hopeful the prosecutor's office would issue the warrant, but added, “if this thing turns out otherwise we are going to fight it," he said.