Theodore Wafer Found Guilty in Shooting Death of Renisha McBride: Sentencing to take place on Aug. 25 after jury refused to believe contradictory statements
A Wayne County jury on Aug. 7 found Theodore Wafer, 55, of Dearborn Heights, a suburb outside Detroit, guilty on all charges brought against him which included second-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old African American Renisha McBride.
McBride was killed on Nov. 2, 2013 and the incident prompted mass demonstrations demanding justice which received national and international press coverage.
Wafer could face up to life in prison after a sentencing hearing scheduled to take place later on Aug. 25. The case attracted international attention when police did not initially arrest Wafer even though he admitted that he shot McBride to death outside his home.
McBride had been involved in a car accident and was apparently in shock when she walked onto Wafer’s porch and began knocking on his door. She was later shot by Wafer who gave contradictory statements in regard to why he killed the woman.
He had initially told police that the shooting was an accident. Nonetheless, when Wafer took the witness stand in his own trial he attempted to convince the jury that he was frightened by McBride and shot her thinking she was attempting to break into his home.
No damage was done to the house when McBride walked onto the Wafer household porch. She was not armed and made no attempt to enter the home forcefully.
Wafer’s Lies Exposed in Trial
Defendant Wafer contradicted his initial statements to the police during testimony in the trial revealing to the jury and observers that he was not credible.
According to CBS local news “Prosecutors in their closing arguments repeatedly emphasized that Wafer had easier options than to directly confront McBride.” (Aug. 7)
“She was a young girl looking for help,” Patrick Muscat, a prosecutor told jurors. “What he did had to be immediately necessary and it wasn’t. It was reckless. It was negligent. I don’t know how to describe it. It was horrific,” Muscat said.
The prosecutor went on to ask “How about shutting the door? … How about calling 911? No, what he does is he engages. He creates the confrontation.”
The parents of Renisha McBride appeared satisfied with the verdict. Monica McBride, Renisha’s mother, talked to reporters in the aftermath of the announcement of the verdict.
“Her life mattered, and we showed that,” Monica McBride told reporters.
She said the prosecutors “did a wonderful job proving their burden that they had. … They had a heavy burden, but they made it through.”
The father of Renisha McBride, Walter Simmons, described Wafer as a “cold-blooded killer.” Simmons said that “He didn’t even know her, you know. She was a beautiful young lady, you know. She had things going for her.”
Racist Killings Not Isolated
This verdict represented a departure from the often typical response of law-enforcement agencies and prosecutors in pursuing cases involving violence carried out by whites against African Americans. Some pointed out that with the tragic killing of McBride taking place in the aftermath, several months earlier, of a not-guilty verdict against George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, placed people on alert in not seeing the same situation prevail again.
After the acquittal of Zimmerman in Florida, there were mass demonstrations and rebellions across the United States in July 2013. When police did not arrest Wafer in the shooting death of McBride, demonstrations were held in Dearborn Heights demanding that charges be filed by the Wayne County Prosecutor.
Recent incidents such as the Aug. 9 police killing of Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked mass demonstrations and a rebellion led by African American youth. Brown had just graduated from high school and was scheduled to begin college two days before his untimely death.
A video of African American Marlene Pinnock being beaten by the California Highway Patrol on July 1 went viral. Pinnock gave her first interview on Aug. 10 after being released from weeks of medical treatment resulting from beating.
Pinnock said of the patrolman that attacked her on the expressway that “He grabbed me, he threw me down, he started beating me, he beat me. I felt like he was trying to kill me, beat me to death,” Pinnock noted. (Associated Press, Aug. 10)
As the crisis within the capitalist system in the U.S. further deteriorates racists and law-enforcement agents will intensify their attacks on the oppressed. These acts of racist violence are well rooted within the history and political culture of the U.S. which was founded on the forced removal and genocide against the Native peoples as well as the abductions, enslavement and super-exploitation of the African masses for over two centuries.
Mass organizations, civil rights groups and all concerned activists must mobilize nationally to effectively put an end to racist violence in all its forms. Through such a process genuine multi-national solidarity can be built laying the basis for a society devoid of racism and national oppression.
Mr. Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire, is one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.