Crime

11.12.13

Renisha McBride Was Not Racially Profiled, Lawyer Says

Over a week after Renisha McBride was shot in the face by a white stranger, charges have yet to be filed. But the family’s attorney says race has nothing to do with it.

Her case has generated national outrage and comparisons to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. But the killing of black teenager Renisha McBride by a 54-year-old white man was not a case of racial profiling, says the attorney representing the girl’s family.

“It was human profiling,” attorney Gerald Thurswell said Tuesday in an interview with The Daily Beast.

“It’s dark out there in the night, even if he flicks on the porch light, he may not even be able to tell [the color of a person],” he said. “This man simply saw someone on his porch and he didn’t value life. He would have shot anyone on that porch.”

Police say McBride 19, knocked at the front door of the man’s home, a single-story red-brick building just one block from the city of Detroit border, around 3:40 a.m. on Nov. 2 after getting into a car accident nearby. The man, whose name has not been publicly disclosed, feared she was trying to break in or worse, police say.

He has yet to face any related charges.

The shooter told cops his weapon discharged accidentally. An autopsy released Monday found that McBride was not shot at close range. (Six to 12 inches would qualify as close range.) There was no gunpowder found on her skin, supporting the notion of a shot not fired at extreme close range. The porch on which McBride was allegedly standing and knocking at the door is small, perhaps five square feet. She was shot directly in the face to the left of her nose, the autopsy report states.

The family has said McBride was only looking for help when she knocked on the door but was racially profiled, and its supporters have conjured Trayvon Martin. Al Sharpton has weighed in, as have other civil-rights figures around the U.S.  Local activists have held vigils and rallies in McBride’s name. Online campaigns have been launched encouraging advocates to call the local police office and press for charges.

But the Wayne County prosecutor’s office is gathering evidence and weighing charges. It’s an office known for taking its time, especially in sensitive cases. Most recently, the office waited six months before arresting Bob Bashara, a suburban property manager who is serving up to 20 years for soliciting the murder of a former employee and also faces murder charges in the death of his wife. A department spokeswoman said it was still collecting information in the McBride case.

She was shot directly in the face to the left of her nose, the autopsy report states.

“It’s fine that the office takes its time,” attorney Thurswell said. ”We don’t want charges, we want a conviction. We want charges that will stick.”

Thurswell said the most appropriate charge would be manslaughter with no racial element. He added that the shooting was clearly not premeditated. “He just shot instead of waiting for the police to arrive,” Thurswell said.

The story on the night of McBride’s shooting begins with a car accident. Reports say that a woman, believed to be McBride, was driving a half mile from the shooting site and hit a parked car around 1 a.m., got out of her car, and walked away.

A 911 call to the police reported no injuries, and the response was given low priority. Another call came in 40 minutes later that the woman had returned to the scene, but was gone by the time police arrived.

She turned up on the steps of a man who has lived in house since 1994. Records show he was a party in a non-criminal domestic dispute in 1995 that included mutual restraining orders and a defendant in a 1977 civil case.

He’s being represented by Bloomfield Hills criminal defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter. She did not return calls.

Meanwhile, the outrage continues to boil. “He shouldn’t be free. He killed her,” Detroit pastor W.J. Rideout told ABCNews.com. “Until they hear that this man has been locked up and is being charged with the crime, the family is in pain.”