It took more than six months for prosecutors in Saginaw County, Michigan to make a formal decision, but it sounds like they made the right call in declining to charge a woman who shot and killed a man in her home last May.
The woman, whose name has not been released since she was never formally charged with a crime, called 911 to report that she had shot DaShawn M. Skinner before fleeing her home and running to a neighbor’s house for safety. During an interview with detectives, the woman said that she and Skinner had gotten into a verbal argument earlier that day and he had left the home, but asked to return so he could charge his cell phone. The woman agreed, but when Skinner arrived he quickly departed once again, returning a short time later with a bottle of alcohol.
The woman says Skinner was trying to goad her into another argument, so she removed herself from his presence and went to her bedroom. Skinner entered the room just a few moments later and began “throwing a tantrum“, including hitting the bedroom walls.
The woman rose from her bed and told Skinner to get back but he approached her, she said. Skinner then smacked a phone from the woman’s hand and clasped both hands around her neck, asking her if she was going to kill him, she said.
As Skinner choked her tighter, the woman told him to let go. She managed to grab her 9mm handgun from her bed, clicked the safety off, and again told him to let her go.
When he did not, she fired once. Skinner then ran from the room and out of the house, saying something to the effect of being sorry, the woman said.
Police recovered the gun, ammunition, the spent shell casing, and the bullet, which was lodged in the bedroom’s doorframe. The woman also consented to them searching her cellphone and agreed to undergo a polygraph examination.
Police did not arrest the woman or lodge her in jail.
Skinner was taken to a local hospital, but succumbed to his injuries a short time later.
Though the shooting took place in May, the police investigation didn’t wrap up until at least September, and Saginaw County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Blair N. Stevenson didn’t make a formal determination on charges until last month. Stevenson says his decision not to charge the woman was based on both the police investigation and Skinner’s autopsy, which were both consistent with the victim’s account of the incident.
It sounds like the only mistake the woman made was letting Skinner back in the house, but I doubt she believed he posed a threat to her life, at least at that point. Based on her account, she repeatedly tried to de-escalate the situation, even warning him to let go of her neck and back away before she fired a single shot, but Skinner refused to stop his assault. At that point, she didn’t have much of a choice but to pull the trigger if she wanted to survive, and the shot she fired was an entirely justifiable and live-saving act of self-defense.