Trial Begins for Renisha McBride’s Killer, Theodore Wafer

Theodore Wafer Trial

Since Renisha McBride’s murder last November, I’ve been following the long process of taking her killer, Theodore Wafer, to trial. Today, July 21, jury selection for the trial has begun.

To rehash some of the facts: 

  • Renisha was a 19-year-old Black girl
  • Renisha went to Theodore Wafer’s home looking for help after suffering injuries from a car crash
  • Renisha was not armed at the time of her death
  • Renisha was shot, on sight, in the face by Theodore Wafer’s shotgun
  • Renisha’s blood alcohol level was nearly three times Michigan’s legal driving limit at the time of her death

More:

  • Theodore Wafer is a 55-year-old White man
  • Theodore shot and killed Renisha with his shotgun when he saw her on his front porch, asking for help at 4:30 in the morning
  • Theodore claims he did not intend to kill Renisha
  • Theodore has been charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, and committing a felony with a firearm
  • Theodore has pled not guilty to all charges
  • After shooting and killing Renisha, Theodore called 911 and told the dispatcher that he shot someone who was asking for help
  • Theodore’s attorneys are arguing he shot and killed Renisha in self-defense
  • Theodore’s attorneys will not be using “Stand Your Ground” law as a defense
  • Theodore’s attorneys plan to portray Renisha as a “troubled teen”

Last month, Theodore’s attorney Cheryl Carpenter told the Associated Press:

“Our defense is blown to pieces if you don’t allow me to argue to the jury that she could have been up to no good.” (emphasis mine)

But thankfully, the presiding trial judge, Dana Hathaway, has already denied Theodore’s defense attorneys’ request to submit social media selfies of Renisha posing with a bag of weed and a gun.

Legal experts and attorneys alike are saying it will be difficult for the defense to argue self-defense because Renisha was standing on Wafer’s porch when he shot and killed her — not in his home.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy had this to say:

“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 of 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.” (emphasis mine)

If Wafer is convicted of second-degree murder for taking the life of Renisha McBride, he could face life in prison. 

Renisha McBride

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

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Sources: Detroit News, ABC News

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Black Man Murdered By the NYPD During A Brutal Arrest

Eric Garner Dead

This week, in what has swiftly become a national news story, a Black man was literally murdered by New York police officers in front of a beauty supply store in broad daylight.

According to footage of the incident, during a brief confrontation with NYPD officers, Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Black man was brought to the ground and then placed in a chokehold* and suffocated while his hands were forced behind his back. During the brutal arrest, one officer even used his bare palms to press and hold Garner’s face into the concrete while several other officers pinned him down.

In the video (captured on a bystander’s cell phone), before the arrest takes place, Garner is seen repeatedly telling the officers that he is innocent of the crime they’re accusing him of and that he’s tired of them harassing him. According to the NYPD, Garner was being arrested on the suspicion that he was selling untaxed cigarettes.

Here’s a look at what goes down when the police think you’re selling untaxed cigarettes.

Two things to note:

1.) Though Garner’s attitude was undoubtedly defiant, he was not violent toward those cops, nor was he endangering the lives of them or any nearby citizens.

2.) When being taken to the ground, Garner breathlessly shouted that he could not breathe multiple times (more than five, according to my count), yet none of those cops thought enough of his humanity to release their grip on him. They proceeded with the attack until he had a seizure and went into cardiac arrest.

Garner is now dead. His wife and six children survive him.

While it’s very plausible that these cops were racist bigots who handled Eric Garner the way they did because he was a Black man, I would posit that it is more plausible that these NYPD officers — racist or not — did what they did because they know history. And history tells us plainly that cops who brutalize and/or kill Black people are almost always met with unspoken understanding from their superiors and the broader American populace. Because unlike Black people, (White) cops are always afforded the benefit of doubt and presumed innocent in how they carry out the law.

And historically speaking, this is how the luxuries of structural power and institutional protection have consistently materialized in conjunction with White supremacy. It renders Black life perpetually cheap while simultaneously rendering the actions of law enforcement defensible.

That said, if you’re wondering what will become of the officers who killed Eric Garner, history has already given us the answers. I suggest you look there.

Sources: New York Times, Daily News
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*In 1993, the New York Police Department banned police officers from using the chokehold as a restraining tactic during arrests.

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