Shooting of Renisha McBride
The death of Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old
African-American woman, occurred on November 2, 2013, in Dearborn
Heights, Michigan, United States.
Renisha McBride crashed her car
at a street in Detroit, and then walked to a neighborhood in
Dearborn Heights where she loudly knocked on the windows and the
door of a house. The homeowner, Theodore Wafer, shot McBride with
a shotgun. Wafer contended that the shooting was accidental and
that he thought his home was being broken into after he heard her
banging on his door at 4:42 in the morning.
The shooting prompted some to claim her death
was a result of racial profiling.
Wafer was convicted of second-degree murder on
August 7, 2014, and received a sentence of 17 to 32 years in
On November 2, 2013, McBride crashed her car at
Bramell and Majestic on the west side of Detroit. Police report
that the 911 caller said a woman had been speeding down the
street, struck a parked car, got out of the vehicle, and then left
on foot. Police initially considered the incident a low priority,
so no officers were immediately dispatched. Forty minutes later,
another call was placed indicating that the driver had returned.
EMS arrived on the scene, but McBride had again walked away from
the scene and was not treated.
The owner of the parked car, who encountered
McBride and called 911, told police that McBride was
"discombobulated" and appeared to be in a "confused state of not
knowing where she was and not being able to give a phone number or
Shortly before 4:42 am, McBride was shot by
homeowner Theodore Paul Wafer, 54, on the porch of his Dearborn
Heights home, more than three hours after she crashed her car
about a mile away. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy stated Wafer
opened his front door and fired a shotgun blast through a screen
door, hitting McBride in her face.
It is unclear what McBride was doing during the
three hours between the crash and the fatal shooting. Her family,
however, states that she was looking for help after becoming
disoriented by the crash, in which she may have sustained a head
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office
reported that she was highly intoxicated at the time of her death.
Wafer initially stated to police that he thought his home was
being broken into and that he had accidentally fired his 12-gauge
Firearms expert David Balash, who is testifying
for the defense, believes the screen in the outer door was out of
its frame before the shot was fired, a theory that suggests
McBride may have knocked it out of place, causing alarm in the
homeowner. Prosecutors blame the blast for the displacement.
On November 15, 2013, the Wayne County's
prosecutor office announced its decision to prosecute Wafer for
second-degree murder, manslaughter, and possession of a firearm
during commission of a felony. Wafer faced a maximum possible
sentence of life imprisonment for the second-degree murder charge
and 15 years for manslaughter, and an additional two years for the
felony gun charge.
The trial began on June 2014. Wafer was found
guilty of all three charges on August 7, 2014.
On September 3, 2014, Wafer was sentenced to 17 to 32 years of
prison. He received 15 to 30 years for second-degree murder, and a
mandatory two-year sentence for the felony firearms charge.
After the shooting, protesters and well-known
civil rights figures such as Reverend Al Sharpton demanded
prosecution of the white homeowner, likening the shooting to the
killing in February 2012 of Trayvon Martin and stating that
McBride may have been racially profiled.
One legal expert noted that a difference
between the two cases is that the timeline of events was much
clearer in the shooting of Martin. Regardless, the shooting became
a symbol in the debate over "stand your ground" laws. Wayne County
Prosecutor Kym Worthy stated that the decision to charge Wafer had
"nothing to do whatsoever with the race of the parties," but
expressed no opinion regarding whether race would later become
Tearful judge gives man 17 years for
Michigan porch shooting
By Aaron Foley - Reuters.com
September 3, 2014
DETROIT (Reuters) - A tearful judge on
Wednesday sent a white Michigan man to prison for at least 17
years for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager on his front
porch in a racially charged case that sparked protests in the
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Dana Hathaway
sentenced Theodore Wafer, 55, to a mandatory two years for felony
firearm usage followed by concurrent sentences of seven to 15
years for manslaughter and 15 to 30 years for second-degree
That means he will serve at least 17 years in
prison before being eligible for parole, and a maximum of 32
"This one of the saddest cases," said Hathaway,
who teared up as she delivered the sentence after an emotional
hearing. "An unjustified fear is never an excuse to take someone's
Wafer's private attorney, Cheryl Carpenter,
said he would appeal the conviction and has requested a public
defender to handle the appeal.
Wafer shot and killed Renisha McBride, 19, who
was intoxicated and had been involved in a car crash when she
banged on his front door in suburban Dearborn Heights early on a
rainy morning last November, apparently seeking help.
"I'll never have the opportunity to see her
grow up, be a woman and have kids," McBride's father, Walter
Simmons, told the court at the sentencing hearing.
Gerald Thurswell, a lawyer representing
McBride's family, said the family was "very happy" with the
sentence. The prosecution had asked for at least 17 years for
Wafer, who was convicted on August 7.
Wafer, an airport maintenance worker, asked
McBride's family for forgiveness.
"From my fear I caused the loss of a life who
was too young to leave this world," he said. "From that I will
carry this guilt and sorrow forever."
Carpenter argued at the hearing that her client
should receive a lesser sentence because the crime was not
premeditated and because he could be rehabilitated. She said 17
years was like a death sentence for a 55-year-old man because "one
year in prison is like five years on the outside."
The shooting and subsequent trial drew
comparisons with the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, another
unarmed black teen who was shot to death in 2012 by a neighborhood
watch volunteer in Florida.
The McBride shooting sparked protests in the
Detroit area, which has a history of racial tensions.
Wafer, who testified in court that he was in
fear of his life, opened his front door and shot McBride in the
face with a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun, telling police he believed
someone was trying to break into his house.
Wafer told police his weapon went off by
accident but prosecutors convinced a jury that not only did Wafer
intend to kill, he had previous experience with firearms and had
other options to resolve the situation.
McBride's parents, Simmons and Monica McBride,
filed a $10 million wrongful death suit against Wafer shortly
after his criminal trial ended.
White homeowner told police fatal shooting of black 19-year-old
was an 'accident' and that he didn't know his shotgun was loaded
Theodore Wafer's statement contradicts his
attorney's claim that he feared for his life and acted in self
defense when he killed Renisha McBride
The shotgun is a Mossberg pump-action 12-gauge
with a pistol grip
By Michael Zennie - DailyMail.com and
July 24, 2014
The white suburban Detroit man who killed an
black unarmed teenager on his porch told police immediately after
the shooting that it was an accident and that he didn't know his
shotgun was loaded, jurors have heard this morning.
The statements from Theodore Wafer, which he
made to police minutes after he blasted Renisha McBride in the
face, contradict his defense team's claim that Wafer feared for
his life when he opened fire.
Wafer, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, met
officers outside his Dearborn Heights, Michigan, home after they
responded to his 911 call around 4.30am on November 2.
'What happened here?' Sergeant Rory McManmon
asked, according to the recording played by prosecutors.
'A consistent knocking on the door, and I'm
trying to look through the windows and the door,' Wafer said.
'It's banging somewhere else so I open up the
door, kind of like who is this? And the gun discharged.
'I didn't know there was a round in there,'
Wafer told McManmon.
'I don't get it. Who's knocking on your door at
4.30 in the morning? Bang, bang, bang - somebody wanting in.'
Pictures of the weapon reveal that it is a
Mossberg pump-action 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip. The
pistol grip means that it is a weapon built for home defense, not
for hunting - like many shotguns are used.
Wafer's words minutes after the shooting stand
in stark contrast to how his characterized the his feelings before
McBride's pounding on the door at such an early
hour led Wafer to think his life was in danger, defense attorney
Cheryl Carpenter told jurors in her opening statement on
'"People were trying to get in." That was
reasonable for Ted to believe and that's what he believed that
night," Carpenter said, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Wafer, 55, is charged with second-degree murder
in the death of Renisha McBride, who appeared on his porch three
and a half hours after crashing her car a half-mile away in
He told police that the victim, later
identified as 19-year-old McBride, looked like a 'neighbor girl or
something.' McBride didn't live in the neighborhood, and an
autopsy revealed she was extremely drunk.
Wafer's lawyers say he shot McBride in
self-defense. Prosecutors, however, say he should have called
police if he feared for his safety.
Police asked Wafer about his weapon, which was
on the ground in the foyer of his home when officers arrived.
'It's a little Mossberg, you know, shotgun.
Self-defense,' Wafer replied.
Wafer says of porch shooting: 'I didn't know there was a round in
By Elisha Anderson and Gina Damron - Detroit Free Press
July 24, 2014
His own words, told to police moments after he
shot a 19-year-old woman on his Dearborn Heights porch, suggest
Theodore Wafer may not have intended to fire his gun the night
Renisha McBride was killed.
Prosecutors played his comments in Wayne County
Circuit Court today during the second day of testimony in Wafer’s
“I open up the door, kind of like, ‘Who is
this?’ and the gun discharged,” Wafer told police. “I didn’t know
there was a round in there.”
Meanwhile, the defense, who has said that
55-year-old Wafer shot McBride in self-defense, questioned
Dearborn Heights police about how they investigated the young
woman’s death, saying “it was incomplete and inadequate and
evidence was lost.”
An officer said the doors on Wafer’s home were
dusted for fingerprints on Nov. 11 during questioning by Cheryl
Carpenter, Wafer’s attorney. McBride was shot more than a week
earlier, around 4:40 a.m. Nov. 2.
Police gave a time line for parts of their
investigation today and said they took pictures at Wafer’s home
the night of McBride’s death and took more Nov. 7.
Police recovered McBride’s cell phone from a
car at a tow yard Nov. 4. The car was there because, hours before
she was shot, McBride had been drinking vodka and smoking
marijuana and crashed into a parked car, according to earlier
Authorities returned to the tow yard Nov. 5 to
photograph the car and returned again Nov. 7 to collect blood
samples, Dearborn Heights police Cpl. Mark Parrinello testified.
He acknowledged under cross-examination that it
would be “wise” to collect evidence as soon as an incident
occurred, and that it’s possible to lose evidence if it’s not
collected quickly and efficiently.
“It is part of the defense theory of the case
that this wasn’t a good investigation,” Carpenter said.
Earlier in the day, jurors saw photographs from
the scene, including the torn screen door, shotgun on the floor
near the front door, a spent shotgun shell casing, gun case and
McBride with blood.
Several of her relatives left the courtroom
when the pictures played on a large screen.
As testimony started today, Assistant Wayne
County Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark played for the jury audio
from a microphone worn by a responding officer.
“Where’s the gun?” an officer asked. Wafer
replied, “It’s on the ground inside the landing right there.”
Then police asked Wafer what happened.
“A consistent knocking on the door, and I’m
trying to look through the windows, but every time I look through
the windows and the door, it’s banging somewhere else, so I open
up the door, kind of like, ‘Who is this?’ and the gun discharged,”
he said, according to the transcript shown to jurors.
He went on to say, “I don’t get it. Who’s
knocking on your door at 4:30 in the morning? Bang, bang, bang.
Somebody wanting in.”
Wafer faces charges of second-degree murder,
manslaughter and using a firearm in a felony.
The defense has said Wafer’s actions were
justified. But, prosecutors contend Wafer created a situation
where death or great bodily harm was likely to occur and that his
actions were “unnecessary, unjustified and unreasonable.”
Dearborn Heights police Sgt. Rory McManmon was
a few blocks away when he was sent to the scene.
“I observed a black female lying on the porch
on her back with her feet directed towards the door,” he said.
McBride’s driver’s license and $56 were in her
back pants pocket and recovered at the scene, police testified.
Also today, Parrinello said he had to take six
to eight maggots off of McBride’s clothing.
“How did the maggots get into Ms. McBride’s
clothing?” Carpenter asked.
“One of the officers did say that when Ms.
McBride was at the (medical examiner’s) office ... there was
another gurney with some tissue on it, which turned out to be deer
meat that had maggots on it,” Parrinello replied.
There was a transfer onto McBride’s clothes, he
A spokeswoman with the Wayne County Medical
Examiner’s Office said office doesn’t have deer meet or store
animals unless it’s “necessary to retrieve a bullet for comparison
or something related to a crime.”
But it’s not uncommon for bodies to come into
the office with maggots, spokeswoman Mary Mazur said.
“Many of the bodies are in various stages of
decomposition when they arrive,” she said. “It is a regular
occurrence associated with death scenes.”
Testimony will continue Monday at 9 a.m. before
Wayne County Circuit Judge Dana Hathaway in the Frank Murphy Hall
of Justice in Detroit.
Homeowner who shot dead drunk and
disorientated car crash victim, 19, on porch WILL stand trial for
murder as judge rejects his self-defense argument
Judge David Turfe said Detroit-area man,
Theodore Wafer, made a 'bad choice' when he shot dead Renisha
McBride through the screen of his front door in the early hours of
Wafer, said he feared for his life and acted in
self-defense but the judge rejected this argument Thursday
He will now stand trial for second-degree
murder and manslaughter
Victim's family cried in court as the ruling
Wafer, 54, called 911 around 4:30 a.m. and said
he had shot someone who was banging on his door
Three hours earlier, McBride had crashed her
car into a parked car in a residential neighborhood, about a
By Daily Mail Reporter and Associated Press
December 19, 2013
A Detroit-area man who fatally shot a drunk,
unarmed woman on his porch will stand trial for second-degree
murder and manslaughter, a judge ruled Thursday, rejecting a
self-defense argument for the killer's 'bad choice.'
There is no dispute that Theodore Wafer shot
Renisha McBride, 19, through the screen of his front door in the
early hours of November 2. His attorneys said he feared for his
life, but Dearborn Heights Judge David Turfe said Wafer had other
'We can't allow (someone) to use a bad decision
as a shield to criminal prosecution... The defendant made a bad
choice,' the judge said.
Wafer's attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, pointed to
Michigan's 2006 self-defense law.
'If someone is breaking into a home there is a
presumption that a homeowner can use deadly force,' she argued.
'You don't know how many people are out there... There's violent
banging on the front door. We have a man alone in his home.'
But Wayne County assistant prosecutor Danielle
Hagaman-Clark said it's 'ridiculous' to believe that Wafer was
deeply afraid but still decided to open the door and fire instead
of first calling the police.
'He shoved that shotgun in her face and pulled
the trigger,' Hagaman-Clark said.
Wafer, 54, called 911 around 4:30 a.m. and said
he had shot someone who was banging on his door.
More than three hours earlier, McBride had
crashed her car into a parked car in a residential neighborhood,
about a half-mile away in Detroit.
A witness said McBride was bleeding and holding
her head, but that she walked away from the scene before an
ambulance arrived. It's still unclear, at least publicly, what she
did between the time of the car wreck and her arrival on Wafer's
An autopsy found McBride had a blood-alcohol
level of about 0.22, more than twice the legal limit for driving.
She also had been smoking marijuana.
Her best friend, Amber Jenkins, 18, said they
had been drinking vodka and playing cards seven to eight hours
before the shooting was reported to 911.
Spectators, mostly McBride's family and
friends, left the courtroom immediately after the judge's
decision. Wafer lingered and appeared dazed as he stood and looked
out a courtroom window. He thanked his attorneys and eventually
left through a back door.
Carpenter told reporters the ruling was a
Before hearing final arguments, the judge
rejected Carpenter's request to play Wafer's one-hour recorded
statement to police. It was not introduced by prosecutors when
they presented evidence Wednesday.
Hagaman-Clark, citing Michigan court rules,
successfully argued that the defense could play the video only if
Wafer would agree to testify and open himself up to
'The videotaped statement is not subject to
cross-examination,' the prosecutor said.
The news comes a day after a witness testified
that the young woman was hurt, scared and confused a few hours
earlier when she crashed her vehicle into a parked car.
Carmen Beasley provided details about the hours
preceding McBride's shocking death.
Defense attorneys claimed he feared for his
life, but prosecutors say the shooting was not justified.
Beasley said she heard a 'boom' outside her
Detroit home about 1 a.m. and discovered that her car had been
She called 911, went outside and found McBride,
who had walked away but returned to the scene.
McBride was bleeding and pressing her hands to
her head, Beasley testified.
'She couldn't find her phone. She was patting
her pockets. ... She just kept saying she wanted to get home,'
Beasley went back into her house to call an
ambulance, but McBride had walked away again by the time help
McBride was 'discombobulated' and appeared to
be in a 'confused state of not knowing where she was and not being
able to give a phone number or anything', said Beasley, who
believed the young woman was drunk.
There was no testimony about where McBride went
during the next few hours as rain fell and temperatures dipped to
the 40s. But she somehow ended up blocks away on Wafer's porch in
Around 4:30 a.m., he called 911 to report that
he had shot someone who was 'banging on my door.'
A photo of McBride's legs taken by police
showed her left foot had broken through the sole of her boot.
Detective Sgt. Steve Gurka said Wafer's
Mossberg shotgun was found inside near the front door with the
spent shell still inside the firearm. A gun case was found on the
floor in another area of the house.
Testifying for the defense, firearms expert
David Balash said Wednesday he believes the screen in the outer
door was out of its frame before the shot was fired, a theory that
suggests McBride may have knocked it out of place and raised
Wafer's fears. Prosecutors disagree.
Dr. Kilak Kesha, who conducted the autopsy on
McBride, testified that her blood-alcohol level was about 0.22,
more than twice the legal limit for driving, but probably was even
higher before she was shot because levels drop over time.
He said she had been using marijuana.
Immediately after Ms McBride's death Wafer
apparently claimed he pulled the trigger by accident, but in
recent days his lawyer has said he was in fear for his life -
despite his size.
During cross-examination, defense attorney
Cheryl Carpenter focused on alcohol, drugs and a possible head
injury from the car crash.
'Could a person get more aggressive after a
brain injury?' she asked.
'That's possible,' Kesha replied, later saying
McBride 'absolutely' could have been quiet and withdrawn while
The prosecution implied that no damage or
usable fingerprints on the outside door handles or screens
indicated the teen was not trying to break in but was, instead,
looking for help, according to Fox News.
The defense argued back saying the door wasn't
tested for prints immediately after the shooting and that it was
raining the night of the incident.
The court showed pictures from the scene
including McBride's crashed car. Experts also demonstrated the
steps necessary to fire the shotgun.
In the courtroom, McBride's supporters wore
shirts bearing her image and the message, 'Don't shoot. Call 911.'
They wish Wafer had called police instead of
shooting McBride from inside his home.
Audio: 911 call made by Theodore Wafer after
he shot Renisha McBride
By Dennis Kraniak, Fox 2 News
November 15, 2013
DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (WJBK) - Theodore
Wafer, 54, is charged with second degree murder after he shot
19-year-old Renisha McBride on his front porch on November
2nd.Theodore Wafer, 54, is charged with second degree murder after
he shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride on his front porch on November
Fox 2 has obtained a recording of the call
Wafer made from his Dearborn Heights home after he shot McBride.
Wafer says: "Uh yes... I just shot somebody on
my front porch. with a shotgun, banging on my door." Wafer gives
his address (we deleted the address in our post) and ends the call
by saying "thank you" and hanging up, even as police dispatch
On Friday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy
announced charges against Wafer, nearly two weeks after police say
Wafer shot McBride on the porch of his Dearborn Heights home on
An autopsy released this week ruled McBride
died of a large gunshot wound to her face. A toxicology report
released Thursday showed she had alcohol and marijuana in her
Police believe McBride was involved in a car
accident several blocks north in Detroit before the shooting. They
believe she was involved in a car accident nearby in Detroit and
family members say she likely approached Wafer's home for help.
Gerald Thurswell, the McBride family's
attorney, says, "If he had called 911 when he heard her outside
his house, (the police) would have been there within two minutes
and she would be alive today," Thurswell said. "Maybe she would
have been arrested for being intoxicated, but she would not be
Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a
homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise,
a person must show his or her life was in danger.
"These are the appropriate charges and he did
not act in lawful self-defense," Worthy said.
The shooting has prompted calls for a thorough
investigation from civil rights groups that say race was a factor.
McBride was an African-American. Wafer is white, said Worthy
spokeswoman Maria Miller.
New Details on Theodore Wafer, the Man Who
Shot Renisha McBride
November 15, 2013
The Michigan homeowner charged with fatally
shooting a black teenager is described by an ex-girlfriend as
someone who ‘drank a lot’ but was ‘never violent.’
DETROIT — Following more than a week of
national controversy, a 54-year-old man has been charged with
second-degree murder in the shooting of Renisha McBride, the
19-year-old woman who was killed as she stood on the porch of his
Dearborn Heights home.
Theodore Wafer will be prosecuted for the death
of McBride, who reports say had wandered about a half mile to his
front door after the car she was driving hit a parked car on Nov
2. The case has inflamed racial tensions around the
country—McBride was black, Wafer is white—and drawn comparisons to
the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
The charges mark the first time Wafer’s name
has been publicly disclosed, and few details are known about the
man at the center of the case.
According to a former girlfriend who asked not
to be identified, Wafer was a heavy drinker during at least part
of his life. She has not seen or spoke with him in many years.
In an interview this week with The Daily Beast,
the woman said she met Wafer in the mid-90s when he was driving a
truck for a local auto parts distributor and she worked for an
auto manufacturer. Wafer came from a large family and grew up in
the Detroit area. She never knew him to have firearms in the year
or so they were acquainted.
“He drank a lot, but he was never violent,” the
woman said. She added that she did not believe Wafer to be a
racist by any stretch. Wafer’s attorney, Cheryl Carpenter,
declined to comment for this article.
Wafer would often ride a bike or taxi to
drinking establishments in his neighborhood rather than risk
driving, the woman said. “He was very conscious of losing his
license and his job,” she said.
He was nearsighted, she said, and wore thick
She said her relationship with Wafer was
nothing serious and ended in a civil dispute with Wafer with legal
expenses of $3,000 on her end. “I ran into Ted a while later after
than and I was not friendly,” she said. She told him the costs she
had incurred. A few days later she came home to find $3,000 in
cash stuffed in a bag inside her door.
Wafer obtained the house he lives in, a corner
lot in a residential enclave just north of the Detroit city
limits, through family when a relative died, she said. He has
lived there since 1994.
“I think he was the one in the family who had
the least resources and so they arranged for him to take the
house,” she said. “I can’t say for sure, but he may have been the
baby of the family.”
Wafer also had a habit of leaving lights on in
his house during the night, and she speculated that McBride could
have seen the lights and thought someone was awake, if indeed she
was seeking help as some reports have stated.
Toxicology reports found McBride was drunk,
with a blood alcohol content of .218, almost three times the legal
driving limit of .08.
A 911 tape released indicated that Wafer called
police after he shot McBride to report the incident, then hung up.
He called back and told police that he didn’t know who it was he
McBride was lying on the porch after the
shooting, according to the tape.
In a press conference announcing the charges
Friday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the shooting took
place at 4:45 a.m. on that Saturday morning, rather than 3:40
a.m., making it almost four hours after a call came in to Detroit
police of a parked car struck by McBride.
Worthy said the shooting was unjustified: “We
don’t believe he acted in lawful self defense.”
She downplayed the racial element as did the
McBride family attorney Gerald Thurswell in an interview with The
“We make our decisions based on the facts and
the evidence,” Worthy said. “It’s always interesting to me what
the public makes its decisions on when it comes to one way or the
other. We have the facts we have the evidence and we make our
decision on that and that alone.”