Black Voices

Ted Wafer, Accused Renisha McBride Killer, Told 911 He Shot Someone On His Porch

After Theodore "Ted" Wafer was charged on Friday with shooting a teen girl to death through his screen door in Dearborn Heights, Mich., a tape of his 911 call was released.

Wafer, 54, was arraigned on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter Friday for allegedly shooting 19-year-old Renisha McBride on his porch with a shotgun Nov. 2. After she was in a car accident earlier that evening, McBride may have been seeking help when she knocked on Wafer's door. Exactly what she was doing in the time between the accident and the shooting remains unclear.

In the audio
, he says, "I just shot somebody on my front porch with a shotgun, banging on my door." He gives the 911 operator his street address but hangs up before stating the city.

At an arraignment hearing in Dearborn Heights' 20th District Court Friday afternoon, Judge Mark Plawecki set Wafer's bail at $250,000 with a 10 percent surety, noting the seriousness of the case.

Mack Carpenter, one of Wafer's lawyers, told the judge his client was not a flight risk. Carpenter described Wafer as someone with strong ties to the community who had graduated from high school in the area, worked at the airport for a decade and was continuously employed. He also said Wafer took care of a younger brother, and that his record consisted of a couple drunken driving charges from 20 years ago.

"The likelihood of him being a danger to society is very, very small," Carpenter said.

Earlier, Cheryl Carpenter, Wafer's other attorney, told The Huffington Post their client woke to sounds in the night and thought his house was being broken into.

McBride crashed into a parked car in Detroit just before 1 a.m. on the day of of her death. Disoriented and bloody, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office, she left the scene on foot. Several blocks away and several hours later, she knocked on Wafer's locked screen door, which her family believes she did because she was looking for help after the accident. There was no sign of forced entry.

A toxicology report released by the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office Thursday showed McBride had a blood alcohol content of about .22, more than double the legal limit. She was drunk, and she might have been boisterous and noisy, said Gerald Thurswell, attorney for McBride's family, at a press conference Friday. But that wasn't any reason to shoot an unarmed, 5-foot-4 woman from inside a locked house, he said. If Wafer had just called 911 instead, Renisha McBride would still be here today, Thurswell added.

Following several other high-profile shooting deaths of unarmed African-American victims, civil rights leaders and community members have called for justice for McBride. Some condemned authorities for taking nearly two weeks to press charges. However, Thurswell and McBride's parents said they were pleased with the charges and praised Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy for conducting a thorough investigation.

They also objected to the framing of the case as a racially motivated killing, saying they didn't believe that was the reason she was shot.

"I believe this man took my daughter's life for no reason at all," said her father, Walter Simmons. "I hope he spends the rest of his life in jail."

Thurswell called it "human profiling," not "racial profiling."

"This family will not have closure until he pleads guilty or is found guilty," Thurswell said.

If convicted, Wafer faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the second-degree murder charge and a maximum sentence of 15 years for manslaughter. An additional weapons charge would give him a mandatory two years for using a firearm while carrying out a felony.

Wafer is due back in court Dec. 18.

Shootings In America