You may not know India Mackey (in fact, chances are you don’t), but you know exactly what the young Michigan woman saw in the moments before her death. We know because she filmed it: She, in the driver’s seat of her boyfriend’s van on Nov. 19, her phone trained on her 18-year-old boyfriend, Kevin Dixon, in the passenger seat.
Dixon, readying his handgun. Dixon, showing her the bullet as he loads it into his firearm. Dixon, as he wipes his fingerprints.
“You think I’m motherfucking playing, huh,” he tells her.
Not long after she took the video, Detroit police pulled over Dixon, who was driving erratically. In the passenger seat, they found Mackey: she was already dead. According to WXYZ-TV, Mackey had turned 20 just the day before.
Dixon has been charged with first-degree murder, carrying a concealed weapon, and felony firearm charges—charges that could result in a lifetime in prison if he’s convicted. His mother was also charged in the case, accused of tampering with the gun used to kill Mackey.
Reporting on the story, WXYZ reporter Andrea Isom proclaimed, “I’ve been doing this job for a very long time. We’ve seen a lot but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this.” She could be talking about the gruesomeness of the crime, but she appears to mostly be referring to its startling intimacy: knowing exactly what Mackey saw and experienced in the moments before her death. Seeing her alleged killer, literally from her point of view.
Mackey’s life—in its singularity, in its potential, in her personal triumphs and heartbreaks—matters. But if her death is to matter, we’d do well to remember that it’s not exceptional. Nearly half of all women murdered in this country die at the hands of their partners—as the HuffPost reported earlier this year, one study found that about four women are killed each day because of intimate partner violence. That same study uncovered another alarming fact: for nearly forty years, the number of people killed by intimate partners was in decline—but in recent years, that number has ticked back up again.
Looking at FBI data from the last 42 years, Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox found that intimate partner homicides increased each year between 2014 and 2017. Gun violence seemed to be the primary cause of the spike, he told the HuffPost, citing research showing a 26 percent increase in gun-related killings of intimate partners since 2010. Most of that uptick took place since 2014, Fox noted.
It’s hard to digest the numbers. What I keep returning to is this: What Mackey saw, as difficult and chilling as it was, is what 26 percent more women saw in the last decade. What we see in her last video is what intimate partner violence is, and where it far too often leads.
What Mackey saw was likely similar to what many of these women saw as they drew their final breaths: a person they loved or once loved, who claimed to love or who once loved them, issuing a final threat. It’s unclear from the video alone what Mackey knew (or didn’t know) at that moment: Did she film Dixon because she was certain of what would happen next, or did she think that recording Dixon might dissuade him? How often had he brandished that black handgun in front of her? How many times had he acted out only to apologize, relented after she pushed back, or doubled-down when she advocated for herself?
What is very apparent is that Mackey is not alone. There are more and more women like her dying at the hands of current and past partners—dying, in part, because America’s staunch refusal to pass meaningful gun reform, but also because federal and local governments overwhelmingly populated with white men collectively look past the women of color most likely to be victims of these homicides.
They have not seen, and refuse to see, what Mackey saw.