Shooting of Renisha McBride


Some news articles covering this case:

Man on Trial Over Killing on His Porch Speaks of Night Filled With Fear
New York Times, 2014-08-06

DETROIT — On the November night that he fatally shot an unarmed young woman on his front porch, Theodore P. Wafer was jolted from his sleep in a living-room recliner by a banging noise so violent, he told a courtroom here on Tuesday, that he was sure that someone — or some people — would be breaking into his house within seconds.

“I’ve never heard anything like it,” said Mr. Wafer, continuing his testimony for a second day. “I still can’t wrap my mind around it that a woman can make those sounds.”

Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old black woman, was killed when Mr. Wafer, who is white, wordlessly confronted her with a shotgun blast through his front screen door. For unknown reasons, Ms. McBride had arrived at Mr. Wafer’s house in suburban Dearborn Heights after crashing into a parked car six blocks from his house and apparently wandering the neighborhood, disoriented and intoxicated. She had been drinking vodka and smoking marijuana with a friend that evening, her friend said in earlier testimony. Mr. Wafer is facing second-degree murder, manslaughter and weapons charges.

The trial, which was in its 10th day, has given a jury opposing views of Mr. Wafer. The prosecution has set out to portray him as a paranoid, reckless gun owner who acted in a dangerously rash manner, shooting Ms. McBride without a word of warning rather than calling 911 to report a possible intruder. The defense has countered with a sympathetic portrait of a man who minded his own business, lived in an increasingly crime-ridden area and one night found himself mysteriously under siege in his home as he slept.


On Tuesday, Mr. Wafer, a 55-year-old airport maintenance worker with a quiet demeanor, described the events of Nov. 2 as nightmarish and brief. Waking up to loud noises on his front and side doors just before 5 a.m., Mr. Wafer said, he fumbled for his cellphone in the dark but could not find it. He said he lives alone and has no landline phone in the house.

“Somebody wanted you to open the door?” asked Athina Siringas, a Wayne County assistant prosecutor.

“I didn’t know what they wanted,” he answered, speaking in a soft, even voice.

During questioning by Ms. Siringas that lasted close to three hours, Mr. Wafer said he had been terrified of the perceived threat from outside: He crawled on the floor at one point to avoid being seen from the outside, he said, and scurried from the living room to the kitchen to the bathroom, vainly searching for his phone so that he could call 911.
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The lights in his house were all off, he said, but he navigated through the hallway and into the rooms using the glow from a streetlight and an electric toothbrush in the bathroom.

Ms. Siringas questioned his account, pointing out that he had told the police that his phone was regularly kept in his jeans pocket.

“You didn’t call the police because you were mad and you wanted to handle this thing yourself, right?” she asked.

“I was upset,” Mr. Wafer said. “I had a lot of emotions. I was scared. I had fear. I was panicking.”

As the noise from outside continued, Mr. Wafer said, he retrieved a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun from a closet, went to the front door and opened the inside steel door. Without stepping onto the porch, he said, he fired through the screen door, striking Ms. McBride in the face.

Recalling the events, Mr. Wafer repeatedly said he had acted instinctively, without planning, telling the prosecutor that he had “just reacted” to a “figure” on the porch, unsure if it was a man or a woman until he had already pulled the trigger.

“The weapon was on my side, to the left,” he said. “It came up in a reaction.”

“You pulled the trigger, right?” Ms. Siringas asked.

“Yes,” he whispered.


Detroit-Area Man Convicted of Murdering Teenager on His Porch
New York Times, 2014-08-08


During a two-week trial, jurors heard from 27 witnesses, including Mr. Wafer, who described the events on the night Ms. McBride was killed. A friend of Ms. McBride’s testified that earlier in the evening, the two drank vodka and smoked marijuana. Just before 1 a.m., Ms. McBride hit a parked car within the Detroit city limits, left the scene of the accident and rejected help from neighbors, witnesses said. One witness said that Ms. McBride, who appeared disoriented and was bleeding from her injuries, brushed off a neighbor’s plea to wait for an ambulance.

Her whereabouts for the next several hours remain a mystery. But sometime around 4:30 a.m., she approached Mr. Wafer’s home, a small house on a corner lot. He testified that he was asleep in his living room when he heard loud pounding on the front door, then on the side door.

Mr. Wafer, who has no landline phone, said that he frantically searched for his cellphone, but could not find it. As the banging continued, he said, he went to a closet and retrieved his Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, which he had loaded less than two weeks earlier after vandals had paint-balled his vehicle.

On the morning of Nov. 2, Mr. Wafer was so afraid that his house was about to be invaded, he told the courtroom, that he did not even peek through his vertical blinds to see who was outside, concerned that he might “give away” his position within the house.

He opened his front door and, seeing a “figure,” said he fired one shot through the locked screen door, killing Ms. McBride. Mr. Wafer then found his cellphone and called 911. In a conversation only 18 seconds long, he told the dispatcher that he had shot someone on his front porch who was “banging on my door.”

Michigan law allows lethal force only if a person “honestly and reasonably believes” that it is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm. Michigan also has a “castle doctrine,” which states that there is no legal requirement for a person to retreat inside his or her home.