Charges Filed in Michigan Porch Shooting

Authorities charged a 54-year-old suburban Detroit man with second-degree murder after he allegedly shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride in the face

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Joshua Lott / Reuters

Mourners hold roses after attending the funeral service for 19-year-old shooting victim Renisha McBride in Detroit, Michigan November 8, 2013.

The grief-stricken family of Renisha McBride was not asking for contrition. They were asking for justice.  “I couldn’t accept an apology, because my daughter don’t breathe no more,” her father, Walter Ray Simmons, said Friday. The family lawyer described what happened to her as a “disregard for human life.” The Wayne County prosecutor called it second-degree murder.

A Michigan man was charged Friday in the shooting of the unarmed 19-year-old black woman, whose death on Nov. 2  stoked racial tensions in suburban Detroit and drew comparisons to the infamous 2012 Trayvon Martin killing.

Theodore Paul Wafer, 54, allegedly shot McBride in the face through his front door in the early hours of the morning, after she crashed her car nearby.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Friday morning in a press conference there is no evidence the suspect acted in lawful self-defense, and he will be charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. At Wafler’s arraignment, a judge set $250,000 bond, and ordered him back in court on December 18.

“There is no duty to retreat when you’re in your own house, but someone who claims self-defense must have an honest and reasonable belief of imminent death or imminent rape or bodily harm,” Worthy said.

The case has drawn widespread attention for what civil rights activists see as similarities to the cases of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager killed last year in Florida, and Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed black man who was shot by North Carolina police in September after seeking help following a car accident. Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted on self-defense grounds; the officer who shot Ferrell has been charged with voluntary manslaughter.

Theodore Paul Wafer

Dearborn Heights Police Dept.

Theodore Paul Wafer

McBride’s case has also become yet another battleground over so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws, which allow the use of lethal force against a serious threat, even when escape is an option. Michigan, like at least 21 other states, extends this right to almost anywhere, while many other states restrict it only to the defense of one’s home.

Police believe Renisha McBride crashed her car on Nov. 2 in Dearborn Heights, a suburb west of of Detroit, before appearing “bloody and confused” at Wafer’s door around 4:30 a.m. She was unarmed, there was no sign of forced entry and the two did not apparently know each other, authorities said. According to Worthy, Wafer opened the interior door but shot McBride through a closed screen door. Police found McBride with a “very large gunshot wound to her face.”

Addressing Wafer at a press conference, Renisha’s mother, Monica McBride, said, “You took a life and you took a beautiful life that was starting to blossom into a beautiful woman.”

Worthy declined to comment on reports that McBride had asked for help at another house before Wafer’s. Police scanner audio obtained by the Detroit News suggests that Wafer called 911 immediately after the shooting. Worthy said she believes Wafer was in lawful possession of his firearm.

Worthy said that the case is not about the fact that an unarmed black woman was shot by a white man. “The charging decision has nothing to do with the race of the parties,” Worthy said. When asked about the comparison with the Trayvon Martin case, Worthy said she has been focused on the 40 other homicides her office is currently investigating.

“The day that a prosecutor’s office makes their decisions on public opinions is the day that that prosecutors office is shut down,” she said.

A toxicology report found that McBride had a blood alcohol content of .218 at the time of her death, which is more than twice the legal limit for driving. For drivers under 21, the legal limit in Michigan is 0.02. Mary Mazur of the Wayne County Examiner’s Office said McBride also had a very small amount of marijuana in her system, but “it’s not even clear that she used it that day.” Wafer did not have a toxicology test.

Worthy said that McBride’s inebriation had no bearing on the case.

Gerald Thurswell, an attorney representing the McBride family, said the suspect should have called 911 instead of shooting McBride. “There was no evidence, no evidence at all, that she made any attempt to break into his house,” he said. “The best he could say is that she was loud, she was boisterous, she was noisy, that doesn’t give anybody the right to blow off someone’s head.”

Thurswell added that McBride’s toxicology report shows that she would have been even less of a threat to the suspect. “We don’t blow off people’s heads because they’re intoxicated,” he said. “Look how many people would be dead on New Years Eve.”

“It would be our hope, so that the family has closure, that he pleads guilty,” Thurswell said. “As long as this case is pending the family is not going to have closure until he pleads guilty or is found guilty.”

Wafer’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

49 comments
Keianabreann
Keianabreann

What I think is so funny about this, there is no trayvon martin like uproar about a black girl getting shot. At least with Trayvon Martin there was some type of actual self defense. This girl was shot and killed, because the man saw a black face and assumed robbery, even though the girl was already injured. #blackwomansworth #blackisbeautiful

jrichardk719
jrichardk719

I find it sad for the girl clearly, as being drunk and stumbling onto someone's porch usually wouldn't end up as a death sentence.  But think of it from Mr. Wafer's perspective also.  If she had not come to his porch he would still be sleeping.  He did not go after someone, she came to him.  I find it very difficult to say someone deserves jail time when he did not instigate the situation.  If not for her breaking the law and drinking, breaking the law and driving, breaking the law and leaving the scene of an accident, Mr. Wafer would be living his simple life as we speak

RebeccaStrobridge
RebeccaStrobridge

Renisha’s mother, Monica McBride, said, “You took a life and you took a beautiful life that was starting to blossom into a beautiful woman.”

um yeah a beautiful underage drinker who just crashed b/c she was drinking and driving! parents are so blind. Maybe the girl should not have fled the scene...oh ya she probably didnt want to be arrested for dwi and causing a crash.

rocket625
rocket625

clearly if somebody black is trying to come through my door im going to empty my clip and thats that. 

JOEMorales
JOEMorales

It's four in the morning and you hear noises around your house. (Who know if she was knocking or not). Maybe she was trying to get inside maybe she was knocking. But that is forever unclear. She was drunk, high and just in an accident after a long night of partying that is a fact. She was surely disoriented from the combination of intoxicants and adrenalin. I honestly don't think he can be charged with 2nd degree murder. Also or course race played a role. But look at the guy, then look at the neighborhood he lives in and how it has changed around him over the last 25 years. Now look at the girl in some of the google images (not the senior class photo that is on every website.

idawa5
idawa5

Wow , the killers,  photo

Qwen
Qwen

I do not see any relation between McBride and Martin. Martin hit Zimmerman's head into concrete. McBride knocked on Wayne's front door.

dlee4
dlee4

This is a true tragedy. I caution those that use pot and excessive alcohol of the side effects listed in the medical journals. Gun laws? I direct you to a case now in Maryland. The case of Matthew Pickerton. His home was invaded in a classic way by a true criminal and he did defend his home and his family. Now the state of Maryland is charging him. A true injustice. Those that think the "knockout game" is a game? Think again.    

Openminded1
Openminded1

Black Prosecutor , black city, bias justice will prevail, along with the mostly black jury that will come along.  this white guy is sunk, before he gets to trial. Blacks want revenge for the thug Trayvon martin.  They have been waiting for case like this, for al and the gang to come out and play race card. This moron shooter will pay because he shot a black woman in Detroit and that will make the hood and Al and the gang open their big mouths and will say it was racial, even when it was not. just a dummy careless moron scared. He pulled the trigger. Negligent yes, racial no. No chance of a fair trial coming out here. He was charged with the wrong crime, due to racial bs.

Yoshi
Yoshi

Why do SYG law comparisons keep being brought up? The Martin case wasn't one, neither is this case. 

One other thing. "Closure". No such thing. Where is it written that some is entitled to "closure". A purely subjective concept. If this man is tried and convicted, that woman will still be dead and the family will still miss her every day. 


curt3rd
curt3rd

“The day that a prosecutor’s office makes their decisions on public opinions is the day that that prosecutors office is shut down,”

That is exactly what happen in the case of Travon Martin

greenhousefresh
greenhousefresh

Appears as though YT has a few options when killing the sacred criminal black....have a "throw down" and/or don't stick around.  

MiloBendech
MiloBendech

When an unarmed person comes to your door, please don't respond by shooting her in the face.
There are much easier ways to deal with  tricker treaters, door to door saleswomen or women from Kingdom Hall.

Please SAVE YOUR GUNS FOR REAL INTRUDERS


ms_articulate
ms_articulate

@jrichardk719 I can see your point but if that was his response then he is a danger. What if it was a hysterical mother who'd had the crash? What if it was someone who'd been date raped and wasn't in control of themselves? Someone with mental health issues. I can understand his feeling threatened but he should have called 911, not killed another human being so casually. That is a dangerous human being to have in your neighborhood. 

AmandaBlankenship
AmandaBlankenship

@rocket625 So when a black person knocks on your locked screen door, and you are behind another locked door, your first response is to kill them? Wow - you are either a troll or the best argument ever for gun control.

AmandaBlankenship
AmandaBlankenship

@JOEMorales Yes, because when you are behind two locked door, a drunken woman is terrifying. She might EAT her way through the door - then eat your BRAINS!!! (if you had any).

SonyaTheWizDavis
SonyaTheWizDavis

@Qwen I don't either. However, Martin hit Zimmerman AFTER being harassed by his stalking and following.

Keianabreann
Keianabreann

@Openminded1  you've never been discriminated against. Its easy to say no discrimination when you don't know what it really looks like

tobyspeeks
tobyspeeks

@Openminded1, you whine about the guy being tried before he even goes to court, yet you sit behind your computer making all kinds of baseless accusations about the person shot, a good portion of the population of Detroit, Al Sharpton and a number of other things you know absolutely nothing about. Way to go, racist, hypocrite.

TiasethB
TiasethB

@Openminded1  The justice system heavily favors both white victims and white defendants.   Your screed is factually wrong at every point.  

MiloBendech
MiloBendech

@Openminded1   

Well, there were no blacks on the Trayvon shooting trial either.  So what is your point?

DouglasJamesBurke
DouglasJamesBurke

@Openminded1 even if they get their jurors from all of wayne county and not just dearborn whites have 49 and blacks have 40%,  it will almost certainly be a hung jury (racial composition of jury usually matters more that details in high profile cases, i am not saying its right). blacks usually get the short end of the stick in the judicial system,  this guy probably 95% walks.

RobertRiversong
RobertRiversong

@curt3rd And very likely in this case as well. Prosecutors are elected positions and are highly sensitive to popular sentiment.

RobertRiversong
RobertRiversong

@SonyaTheWizDavis: There was no stalking and harassing by Zimmerman, as he was doing exactly what he was trained to do as a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, according to sworn testimony by the Sanford Police staffer who trained him.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Keianabreann @Openminded1 You need to read the  first post i wrote on here goofy, I am 63 years old and a black retired cop, I will forget more about the real world then you will ever learn in a life time.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@tobyspeeks @Openminded1 Moron you do not know what i know about Detroit big mouth Al and a good portion of the population of the city of detroit. I guess you do not comprehend , I am black with 30 years police experience, I know all about Al , Detroit and police procedure. you sonny are the naive young man here not me I am 63 years old and know all about racism sonny

RobertRiversong
RobertRiversong

@TiasethB: Not true in so-called Stand Your Ground cases, at least in Florida where the first such law was passed in 2005.

The Tampa Bay Times did an exhaustive study of all Florida Stand Your Ground cases since the law was passed in 2005 and found no obvious bias in how black defendants have been treated:

• Whites who invoked the law were charged at the same rate as blacks.

• Whites who went to trial were convicted at the same rate as blacks.

• In mixed-race cases involving fatalities, the outcomes were similar. Four of the five blacks who killed a white went free; five of the six whites who killed a black went free.

• Overall, black defendants went free 66% of the time in fatal cases compared to 61% for white defendants.

 

Openminded1
Openminded1

@TiasethB @Openminded1 In most cases you are right except when the race card is playing a part in the case, which it is here and should not be.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@MiloBendech @Openminded1 The point is GZ was not black and The jury was not black. In this case the jury will be stacked with more blacks. The Tm case was also different in many ways. The fact you mentioned it is the problem. It is on the minds of all blacks and even whites like you.. This guy should not be charged for 2nd degree murder. he is because of the TM case and black outcry.

JoeGottiBerry
JoeGottiBerry

@RobertRiversong @AmandaBlankenship Responsible gun owners don't guess, they either know or they don't pull the trigger. There is no proof that she was performing for a home invasion so that excuse will not fly. My bets are on Kym Worthy in this trial.


It is really easy to live your life without killing someone, but you first have to gain a backbone and quit being a wimp. 

JoeGottiBerry
JoeGottiBerry

@RobertRiversong @SonyaTheWizDavis Only if he did not approach Trayvon and did not try and question him. All neighborhood watch rules and regulations forbid that behavior. I teach my students to never answer to a stranger - ever - unless he is a police officer. I continue to teach that way because it is recommended by all professionals in kid safety. 

JoeGottiBerry
JoeGottiBerry

@Openminded1 If you have to win your case by stacking the jury and eliminating certain nationalities then you don't have a valid case. You either have a case that a jury of ALL AMERICANS can agree with, or you have a loser - period.

RobertRiversong
RobertRiversong

@TiasethB @Openminded1 @MiloBendech The Constitution requires a jury of the peers of the defendant, not of the plaintiff or victim. The case will be tried in Detroit which is 80% black. It will be next to impossible to find an unbiased jury.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@TiasethB @Openminded1 @MiloBendech You like many liberals jump to conclusions, that are in most cases wrong. As you did here. I am black and a retired 30 year police veteran from a major city. I know quite a bit about the system and juries as to be expected. Jury selection is a professional expert career. The defense if they are any good will be very careful here, as will the state. The problem with blacks on a jury reference to a black victim like this, and after a case like the Trayvon case, is that blacks feel they have an obligation to make the black community happy and they tend to be more then just bias. Whites on the other hand do not feel that same need to make the white community feel good about the verdict and are much less bias. Blacks use the race card for most everything, whites rarely do. And you are hearing this from  a black man who says it like it is. I can not stand the race card bs, It does not help blacks ,It puts them back a few steps every time they use it

TiasethB
TiasethB

@Openminded1 @MiloBendech It is doubtful that this will be the case.  An all white jury is commonplace.  An all black jury, not so much.    Juries have been stacked with white jurors for several centuries and my guess is you only just this minute started griping about racial makeup of juries.  

Regardless, what is your problem with black jurors?  Are black citizens not allowed on juries now?   

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