Charges filed in killing of Renisha McBride

Renisha McBride

Renisha McBride

A Dearborn Heights, Mich., homeowner, Theodore P. Wafer, has been charged with second-degree murder in the Nov. 2 shooting death of Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old African-American woman who was recently employed by the Ford Motor Company. McBride had been in a traffic accident in the suburb west of Detroit and was seeking assistance when she walked onto Wafer’s porch and was shot in the face with a shotgun.

The case has drawn the attention of people in metropolitan Detroit as well as around the United States and indeed the world. Wafer is white, and many have accused the shooter of being motivated by racism and racial profiling.

The killing of McBride sparked demonstrations outside Wafer’s home and at the Dearborn Heights police station.

At a press conference held in Southfield, Mich., on Nov. 15, the parents of McBride thanked the county prosecutor for filing charges. Walter Ray Simmons, the father of McBride, referred to Wafer as “a monster that killed my daughter,” and said, “I hope he spends the rest of his life in jail.” Monica McBride, the victim’s mother, added, “You took a life, and you took a beautiful life that was starting to blossom, and for that I hope you stay in jail for the rest of your life, because I have to go on with my life, and her father, without our daughter.” (thegrio.com, Nov. 15)

Although McBride’s death has been viewed by demonstrators and observers as a manifestation of racial profiling and violence that is all too common in the U.S., prosecutor Kym Worthy has stated that she will not pursue the case as one stemming from racism. McBride’s parents echoed this same sentiment as well.

Wafer said he thought McBride was an intruder and felt threatened. But evidence in the case suggests that there was no basis for shooting McBride because she had merely knocked on the door and had not attempted to forcefully enter the property.

The shooting death of McBride follows numerous other racially charged cases throughout the U.S., the most notable of which is the acquittal in July of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Martin, an unarmed teenager, was killed by Zimmerman, a so-called neighborhood watch volunteer, in Sanford, Fla.

Martin’s death and the initial release of Zimmerman sparked protests across the U.S. After Zimmerman was indicted, put on trial and acquitted, hundreds more demonstrations were held across the country. n