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1 Dec 2013

Man charged in shooting death of motorist seeking help

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December 1, 2013 Category: Week In Review Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: A Dearborn Heights, Mich., man has been charged in the murder of Renisha McBride.


It is the second deadly shooting of a black motorist seeking help since September


By Frederick H. Lowe


Wayne County, Mich., prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged Theodore Paul Wafer with second-degree murder in the death of Renisha McBride, a 19 year-old Detroit woman, who sought help following an automobile accident in Dearborn Heights, Mich.


Worthy also charged the 54 year-old Wafer with manslaughter and with felony firearm possession. The second-degree murder charge carries a penalty of up to life in prison, and the manslaughter charge carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. The felony firearm charge carries a penalty of two years in prison.


McBride, who appeared to be disoriented, knocked on Wafer’s door on Nov. 2, 2013, following a traffic accident. The white Ford sedan she was driving crashed into a parked car in the 7200 block of Bramell at approximately 12:57am. McBride was seeking help following the accident.


McBride knocked on Wafer’s door in the 16800 block of West Outer Drive in the Dearborn Heights. At 4:42 am, police responded to a 911 call, and they found McBride’s lifeless body lying on the porch. She had a large gunshot wound to her head.


“It is alleged that McBride was unarmed when she was shot in the face by Wafer as she knocked on the front screen door of the house. There were no signs of forced entry at the location,” Worthy said in a statement.


Wafer said through his attorney he believed someone was breaking into his house. He said he fired in self defense.


“We have issued these charges because we believe the evidence will show that self defense was not warranted,” Worthy said. “Under Michigan law, there is no duty to retreat in your own home, however, someone who claims self defense must honestly and reasonably believe that he is in imminent danger of either losing his life or suffering great bodily harm and that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent that harm. This ‘reasonable belief ‘ is not measured subjectively by the standards of the individual in question, but objectively, by the standards of a reasonable person.”


McBride is the second Black motorist shot to death since September while seeking help following an automobile accident.  Jonathan Ferrell, who also was unarmed, was shot to death by Randall Kerrick, a cop with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Police Department, after Ferrell sought help following a traffic accident. 


Ferrell knocked on the door of a woman homeowner seeking help. Instead, she called the police and accused Ferrell of attempting to break into her house.


When Kerrick and another officer arrived at the scene, Ferrell approached them with his arms outstretched. One of the officers fired a Taser gun at Ferrell who was not harmed.


Kerrick then pulled his revolver, firing 12 shots at Ferrell, hitting him 10 times. He died at the scene.  Police charged Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter. Kerrick said he killed Ferrell because he feared for his life, a defense routinely used by the police.


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