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Detroit woman shot after apparently approaching home for help

By Josh Levs and Ralph Ellis, CNN
updated 10:33 PM EST, Fri November 8, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Lawyer says his client's actions were "justified"
  • Homeowner tells police shotgun accidentally discharged
  • 19-year-old woman killed on the front porch of a home
  • Hours passed between car wreck and woman's death, police say

(CNN) -- Police are investigating whether a 19-year-old Detroit woman who was shot and killed on the front porch of a home was simply looking for help after a car crash.

A lawyer for the homeowner, describing the incident as a "tragic accident," said his 54-year-old client is "completely justified in everything he did."

The homeowner told police the shotgun accidentally discharged, striking Renisha McBride in the face, Dearborn Heights Police Capt. Jeffrey Seipenko said Thursday.

"This man's claiming -- believed the girl was breaking into the home. And he's also saying the gun discharged accidentally," Lt. James Serwatowski, chief detective, was quoted as saying in the Detroit Free Press.

Relatives of Renisha McBride have complained because authorities have not filed charges against the man, who has not been identified. They say McBride knocked on the man's door seeking help after her car broke down.

Prosecutors said they need more information from police before deciding whether to file charges. The 12-gauge shotgun is being analyzed by the state police crime lab, Seipenko said.

Mack Carpenter, one of the homeowner's attorneys, said on Friday that his client has cooperated and "has nothing to hide." He, too, declined to name the man.

"He was woken up between 3:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., and McBride never once said anything or cried for help," said Carpenter. "She just attempted to get into his house using the front door and also the side door and so that just scared the hell out of him."

Seipenko said that McBride was in a car accident and that hours passed between that time and her death.

Serwatowski told the Free Press that McBride was involved in a wreck several blocks from the house and left the accident scene. The wreck happened about 1:30 a.m. and the shooting at 3:40 a.m., the Free Press reported.

Friends and relatives held a rally Wednesday outside the house where the shooting occurred and had another rally elsewhere Thursday night. They allege that McBride was racially profiled by the white homeowner.

"My niece didn't deserve to die like this. This is senseless," McBride's aunt Bernita Spinks told CNN affiliate WDIV at the Wednesday rally. "I just want justice for my niece, and peace."

McBride's father, Walter Simmons, said he believes Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy "will do the right thing and prosecute to the fullest extent. So we have confidence in that, and that Dearborn Heights police will cooperate and give all the information that's needed that's asked for."

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CNN's Nic Robertson, Rande Iaboni and Chris Welch contributed to this report.

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