“Unarmed _______ shot in ‘self-defense’ by police or armed civilian.” It’s a headline that’s become all too common these days. So common that we literally can’t write stories fast enough to cover them. It’s officially gotten to the point now that by the time we’ve got an update written on one unarmed person shot in “self-defense,” another gets killed before we can hit that bright, blue “Submit” button. And the odd little details of all of these “justified,” “defense” or “duty” killings are so often strikingly similar that even if we were able to keep up, the second article wouldn’t get read. Analytics says that most people would assume the second article was simply a reprint of a previous one.
And so, for the first time in AATTP, and perhaps journalistic, history, we find ourselves in the unsavory position of reporting a double-header of not one, but two unarmed teenagers gunned down in acts of supposed “duty” or “self-defense.” Which just about covers the spectrum of everything that’s gone wrong in our fear-based, gun-worshiping, justice-perverted, me-first society. And if the details of both seem oddly similar, don’t worry, this isn’t a reprint; you’re reading this on or after November 9th, both of these homicides occurred barely 72 hours apart a few days ago, one outside Detroit, the other in Iowa. Both victims were 19 years old, and both were unarmed.
We’re wounding out today’s Gun-Justice Trifecta with the fate of Florida’s latest bill to repeal Stand Your Ground…the ideological lynchpin that connects our earlier murders.
Saturday, November 2nd, Detroit, Michigan — Renisha McBride
It was about 2:30 in the morning when Renisha found herself stranded in the upscale, white neighborhood of Dearborn Heights, Michigan — one of the few Detroit suburbs that hasn’t become a broken Hellscape since industry abandoned it for cheaper production in China and Mexico.
Renisha’s car was immobilized nearby, evidently undriveable after an accident. Renisha attempted to contact help by phone, but found her cell phone battery depleted. It was then that she began knocking on the doors of nearby homes looking for help.
An unnamed Caucasian answered the door; no surprise, as the neighborhood was light-skinned by nature. The homeowner must have been pretty surprised though, because after hearing a knock, unlocking and opening the door, he/she (a male suspect has been questioned, but police haven’t released the individual’s identity yet) met Renisha — with a shotgun pointed at her face.
What happened next is still a bit unclear, but this much is sure: Moments later Renisha’s head was a cloud of bloody mist hanging in the silent Dearborn air; her hopes for college, a family and a life of her own settled to the floor like crimson dew in the cool, morning. The killer called 911 afterward.
Police now say she was shot in the face, and her body spun around and landed front-down at the bottom of the front porch. Her family says she was shot in the back of the head as she was walking away. The shooter says the gun “discharged accidentally.” For those unaccustomed to firearms jargon, that translates to “My finger was so hard on the trigger that I set it off by breathing.” Either that, or “I opened the door, shot first, and ask questions later.”
And that proved a viable enough strategy; Renisha was on his/her front porch, and Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law (Castle Doctrine) allows an individual to kill without warning in “self-defense” against any threat (real or simply perceived) without any attempt at retreat or escape. For anyone living under a rock since George Zimmerman murdered Treyvon Martin, SYG allows anyone to open fire on anyone, and all they have to do is prove that they had reason to FEEL threatened. No material proof or witnesses required or preferred. Even if the person “threatening” you was an unarmed female half your size. Or, if she’s black…whatever.
Renisha’s killer was initially (voluntarily) detained, and then almost immediately released after questioning. The family immediately sprang to action calling for the arrest and prosecution of Renisha’s murderer. They organized the protest of about 50 people below:
(Renisha McBride Protestors)
The family has reached out to local Detroit pastor W.J. Rideout, a civil and human rights activist, who is now involved with the cause. Ridout, at Renisha’s funeral, said of the killer:
“He shouldn’t be free. He killed her. He shot her, whether it was accidental or to commit murder or a crime. Until they hear that this man has been locked up and is being charged with the crime, the family is in pain.”
The Wayne county Medical Examiner’s office has ruled Renisha’s murder a homocide. Wayne prosecutors have yet to issue a warrant for arrest; Prosecutor spokesperson Maria Miller told ABC:
“We were presented with a warrant request on Tuesday and we have asked the police to do some further investigation on the case and until we receive that work, we won’t be able to continue and make a decision.”
“This is a senseless murder. 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.”
Police are calling it a case of “self-defense gone wrong.” Or “self defense” gone right…depending on where you put the quotation marks.
The killer’s slimebag for hire — sorry, lawyer — Cheryl Carpenter said:
“On that night he was woken up…Everything was dark in the house, and he was awoken by sounds of a person or persons trying to get into his home.” (Which we in Western society call “knocking”) “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.“
Yes…because that’s what a person does who’s in “fear for his life.” He opens a locked door, speaks to a single woman outside, and “accidentally” pulls the trigger. Which is what HE told the police…right?
But, wait…that’s not what you said. Because an accidental shooting would be, at the very least, manslaughter. Yes, indeed, Ms. Slimebag…let’s not BS each other. “Accidental” killing isn’t protected by “Stand Your Ground.” Might that be why you’re changing the story a little now?
Which one was it? Did he “accidentally” pull the trigger while talking to her, as he originally stated? Or did he unlock the door, yank it open, carefully take aim at her head and intentionally fire because he “feared for his life?” It can’t be both. It can barely be ONE.
The outrage in Detroit is high…but sadly, well-practiced. As Dream Hampton, a local writer and filmmaker who organized the rally cynically said:
“I thought that this is not a unique or original story. About every six weeks, we basically have some racial killing story…to protest and mourn and be outraged about.”
SIMILARITIES TO OTHER CASES
- Trayvon Martin, obviously. A white guy shoots an unarmed black teen in “self-defense,” with the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law mentioned as a possible justification.
- Jonathan Ferrell, North Carolina: Unarmed man shot 10 times by an officer after a car accident, while he stumbled dazedly around, looking for help.
- Shannon Anthony Scott, South Carolina: Scott opened fire on an SUV full of unarmed teenage girls outside of his home because the “radio was too loud.” His legal team successfully argued for protection under South Carolina’s Stand Your Ground law.
- William Woodward, Florida: Man stalks and murders two unarmed neighbors at a barbecue, because they had supposedly threatened him. Cites “Stand Your ground” and “Bush doctrine” as defense.
Watch a report about the tragedy here:
Tune in for Part 2 of the Gun-Justice Trifecta: Tyler Comstock