Renisha McBride’s killer found guilty

Theodore Wafer was found guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter yesterday.  I have to admit that I was shocked that he was found guilty.  I didn’t think he was innocent, but I didn’t think a jury would convict him of murder and that he would end up getting off on a self-defense plea.

As much as people have tried to infuse race into this case, I don’t think race played a major role at all in this case.  On one hand, there was an intoxicated young lady who may have been looking for help after being in a car accident.  On the other side, there was a homeowner who was awaken before 5am by someone banging on the doors of his home.

I’ve had someone banging on my doors late at night before, and like Wafer, I instinctively grabbed a gun from my gun safe and went to investigate the noise.  Unlike Wafer however, I didn’t go and open the door trying to play Ben Cartwright defending The Ponderosa.  Instead, I found a defensive position that gave me the advantage over the knocker as well as kept me safely out of harm’s way.  In my case, it happened to be the local police department, and the situation was quickly resolved.

Relying on the training I’ve received, I don’t see any situation where Wafer should have opened or even approached the door.  He made the statement while on the stand that he refused to cower in his home, or something to that effect.  One should never cower in their own home, but one should not unnecessarily put themselves in a dangerous situation.  By approaching and opening the door, the situation could have been completely different had it been a group of armed individuals who were intending to break into his home.

My sympathies go out to the McBride family, and I hope they can find solace within this verdict.  There’s nothing that will bring Renisha back, but I hope they will be able to look beyond her final moments on Earth and remember happier times they shared with her.

My sympathies also go out to the Wafer family.  It’s easy to Monday Morning Quarterback this and say that he shouldn’t have shot McBride, but he’s the only one who knows exactly what was going through his mind at the time.  Does a person have a right to defend themselves in their own home?  Yes, they do.  Sometimes the homeowner has to take matters into his own hands, and sometimes it’s best to let the authorities handle it.

This case was one where I would have at least phoned the authorities prior to doing anything on my own.  Banging on the door sounds scary, and it could be a precursor for a break-in attempt.  At the same time, banging outside means the person isn’t in the house just yet, and I have time to use multiple avenues to address the situation.  If I can get the authorities there to arrest or scare off the person, then the task is done without me endangering myself or my family.  If the person is inside my home, then it’s self-preservation time with no questions asked.  That is what I see as the difference between self-defense and murder in a case such as this.


8 thoughts on “Renisha McBride’s killer found guilty

  1. Maybe it’s a man-woman thing, but I don’t really see what’s wrong with cowering in my home.

    I agree with you, this was a sad case and I feel sorry for everyone involved. I, too, am surprised at the verdict.

    Now we’ll see what happens with the old man who came home and found a couple robbing his house, grabbed a gun, chased them out of the house, ran after them and shot her to death after she told him she was pregnant. That’s also a case where I can understand and sympathize right up to the point where he kills her even after he has chased her out of the house.


    • I think that California case will be messy indeed. The two burglars roughed up the old guy when they were trying to escape, so he likely did fear for his life. That would give overwhelming support to any self-defense claim. The girl said she was pregnant, but the NY Daily has a story that says she wasn’t.

      He shot inside his home, but he also shot at them as they were running away in an alley. The question on that second shot will be whether you can still claim that fear when the person is actively running away. I don’t know if that one will come back in favor of self defense.

      I’ll follow that case as well because these self defense cases end up becoming case studies at work.


      • I don’t think it matters very much whether she was pregnant. I think what matters is that she, running away, had time to say it and he had time to hear and understand. I realize it doesn’t take very long to say two words, but it was a few steps farther away. He shot anyway.


        • My wife was once told by a county LEO that if the perp’s got both feet inside your doorway, then he’s a legitimate target. Don’t know if that’s true, but we’ve kept it in mind.

          We’re actually moving to an apartment that’s very close to a county police station; we’re both mobility-impaired, and maintaining a big house and a big yard are just getting to be too much for us. We’d much rather downsize and have someone else do the maintenance and yardwork. Anyway, we’ve contacted that station and have asked for a security evaluation once we get moved in; it’s apparently a free service the county PD offers. We’ll also ask them how crime-prone the area is and what steps we can take to keep our residence and property secure. I’ll probably also ask them about when and under what circumstances an armed response is appropriate during a break-in.


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