Theodore Wafer, 54, is to be charged with 2nd-degree murder, manslaughter, and a firearm charge for shooting 19 year-old Renisha McBride in the face with a shotgun on November 2nd, prosecutors announced today. Wafer is expected to turn himself in today to formally answer the charges. This case has drawn accusations of racial profiling, along with inevitable (but utterly baseless) comparisons to the Trayvon Martin case. ‘Stand Your Ground’ and ‘Castle Doctrine’ laws will play no part in this case at all . . .
Not every bump in the night is an intruder bent on mayhem and murder. Sometimes that person ringing your doorbell at 3:00 a.m. really did run out of gas or really does need you to call an ambulance. Renisha McBride’s family says the 19 year-old was disoriented from an earlier car crash when she knocked on the door of an unnamed Detroit homeowner on November 2nd.
She certainly was disoriented. The Wayne County coroner released McBride’s postmortem toxicology reports, which indicated that McBride was heavily intoxicated at the time of death and had marijuana metabolites in her system. Marijuana metabolites are not indicative of marijuana intoxication, only that the person has used the short-acting drug in the recent past.
This earlier report from the BBC brings us some of the details of the shooting:
Renisha McBride, 19, received fatal injuries on the front porch of a home in Detroit, Michigan, on 2 November.
Her family says she was disoriented and looking for help after having just been involved in a car crash nearby. The homeowner said he had feared a burglary, but civil rights leaders are demanding justice.
…the unidentified 54-year-old man…told police he fired his shotgun accidentally. A lawyer for the man said he was “torn up” by McBride’s death, but that he had feared for his life at the time.
A post-mortem examination report released on Monday confirmed that McBride had been shot in the face, but not at close range.
Additional details were provided today during the District Attorney’s press conference. According to police, the evidence suggests that Wafer filed the fatal shot through his still-locked screen door. He then called police to report that he’d shot an intruder, and then hung up.
Despite Wafer’s prudent choice to call 911 and then STFU, this does not add up a legitimate DGU. Here’s why:
- McBride was alone and unarmed, which indicates that it was probably not reasonable for Wafer to grab a shotgun at all.
- His decision to open the inner door is not consistent with his decision to arm himself: why would you opening your door if you were worried enough to grab a shotgun?
- The coroner’s finding that McBride was not shot at close range is even more damning. It’s not generally reasonable to ‘fear for your life’ from a single unarmed young woman, especially when there’s a locked screen door between you.
- The 21-foot knife rule doesn’t apply here, because she she didn’t have a knife and she couldn’t have charged him through the locked screen door anyway.
Wafer seems to be hedging his bets by also claiming that he fired the shotgun by accident. This claim is immediately suspicious, because this ‘accident’ happened after he’d already aimed his shotgun at McBride’s head.
Even if the fatal shot was accidental, this might only reduce the crime from Murder 2 to Manslaughter. But there is no such thing as a ‘justifiable accidental killing’: either a homicide is justified because the killer reasonably feared for his life, or it’s not justified at all.
The ethically-questionable Al Sharpton, as well as the NAACP, have been marching and protesting for nearly two weeks to demand criminal charges in this case. I strongly disagreed with their stance in the George Zimmerman case (with which they are desperately trying to draw unwarranted parallels) but in this case I think Al Sharpton was actually right.
And I don’t think I’ve ever said that before in my entire life.