Renisha McBride: Parents do not want race to be considered as factor in case

The parents of Renisha McBride held a press conference Friday afternoon, and emphasized that race should not be factor as Wayne County prosecutors pursue a case against her killer.

“We just want to thank the prosecutor’s office for the thorough job that they’ve done,” McBride’s father, Walter Ray Simmons, said referring to charges that had been filed against the shooter earlier that day.

Early Friday afternoon, Theodore Wafer, 54, was charged with with second degree murder, manslaughter, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony for the shooting death of the 19-year-old on November 2.

Simmons 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.”

Wafer lethally shot McBride in the face on the porch of his Dearborn Heights, Michigan home, and claims he felt threatened by the Detroit native, also stating that the shooting was an accident. McBride had alcohol levels far exceeding the legal limit for driving and traces of marijuana in her system at the time of her death. 

Accusations of racial profiling struck down

When McBride encountered Wafer, according to police reports, the teen was likely seeking help after having been in a car accident at around midnight. The conflict occurred at approximately four o’clock in the morning.

Many believe Wafer was motivated to shoot because McBride was black. He has stated he believed she was an intruder.

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When charges were announced by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, she related her assessment that McBride was not a lethal threat, and said Wafer’s home showed no signs of a break in.

Worthy also said race will not be a factor in the prosecution of the suspect.

The McBride family agrees strongly that the shooting case should not focus on race. The parents want the public to imagine that McBride could have been anyone’s loved one, not a woman who was shot for being black.

Family stresses: This was “human profiling”

Preferring to refer to McBride’s death as a “case of human profiling,” Simmons asked the public to “think about the fact that any 19-year-old girl might be in a similar situation.”

He asked for McBride’s supporters to “demand justice” and “come together as a community” against the type of violence that took his daughter’s life, fighting its impact on greater society.

Along with their attorney, the family thanked the media for taking interest in their daughter’s tragic death, but stressed that hundreds of other people have been killed in the Detroit area this year, and should also be valued because they are human beings.

“This was human profiling. You have to value human life,” Simmons said. “Renisha was a valuable person. She should be with us today.”

McBride family attorney Gerald Thurswell praised prosecutor Kym Worthy for what he called her “thorough investigation,” which led to charges being pressed almost two weeks after the incident, seemingly pleased with her decision to leave racial considerations out of the indictment.

When asked if the he thought the killing was racial after these statements were made, McBride’s father said, “I believe that… this man took my daughter’s life for no reason at all, from just one human being to another. And we just want justice done. We think that the prosecutor’s office will do that.”

Coping with “faith, strength and family”

The family is coping with their loss through “faith, strength and family,” the victim’s mother said.

“If you got a righteous heart, and you know righteous things, you lean on your family and maintain your faith in God,” she added. “It’s very hard. We stand with the community and America about the unjust nature of this horrible murder.”

Monica McBride described her daughter as a “mama’s girl” who had plans to attend college online so that she could work through school and stay close to home. Her father said McBride looked forward to going back to school, and had dreams of being a nurse, or going into the automotive field because she loved cars.

McBride had only been out of high school for a year at the time of her death.

The family also revealed that photos circulating of McBride feature the young woman as a girl of 12 during a family vacation.

“My other daughters won’t ever get that opportunity to spend time with her and have fun,” her father lamented.

“She deserves to be here with her family,” Simmons said after calling his daughter a beautiful young woman who was full of potential.

“Her spirit, it will stay with us,” her mother affirmed to assembled reporters.

Comparisons to Trayvon Martin

Theodore Wafer was arraigned Friday afternoon in connection with the shooting death of Renisha McBride, and is being held on $250,000 bond. Wafer maintains that he shot McBride because he believed he was in danger.

Some civil rights leaders are comparing McBride’s death to that of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teen who was killed by George Zimmerman in February 2012 in Sanford, Florida.

Zimmerman maintains that he shot Martin in self-defense, and was acquitted of all charges. Martin’s death spurred accusations of racial profiling during Zimmerman’s trial, and harsh critiques of the justice system following his acquittal.

Wafer faces up to life in prison if found guilty.

Remembering Renisha as “human” first

While the press observes this case, and the public debates it as it proceeds, it is worthy to note that the parents of Renisha McBride are not interested in using race to garner sympathy. They believe that all people who believe in justice will naturally align with their cause, regardless of race.

In some ways, it is a much more powerful statement for her family to seek compassion for their daughter by having faith in the universal perception of our common humanity.

Rather than focusing on the way our differences can force us to forget at times that we are all human beings, Walter Ray Simmons and Monica McBride want us to never forget that Renisha was a valuable person first, regardless of race.

Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.

This article has been updated.