An unidentified member of the jury, made up of seven men and five women, told the Detroit Free-Press that “no one” believed that Wafer shot McBride in self-defense. His testimony did not hold water, the juror said, because Wafer first said that the shooting was an accident but then changed his story.
Not having seen all the evidence or even heard the testimony, I will posit that it is entirely possible that Wafer was convicted not because of an untruthful statement but, one simply made in error that he later recanted. As such, one lesson here may be that one should wait until you have the benefit of legal counsel BEFORE making your official statement to the police. If you make an erroneous statement, a jury is likely to consider you a liar. If your attorney makes an erroneous statement that you correct, it is often an entirely different ballgame. Of course, it’s also possible that Wafer plainly lied to cover his butt upon realizing his mistake and because he had conflicting statements, the jury convicted him.
Another lesson, one I’d argue is more important, is that you need to be clear about what level of force you’re using and why. It’s not enough to be “scared.” You need to be able to articulate a clear threat. Plenty of people get “scared” just because they they find another person’s appearance frightening. But that alone does not justify the use of force. Furthermore, someone banging on the door from the outside is not often seen as an immediate threat, particularly if the door is still locked and not coming off the hinges. And then you have a disparity of parties here in that juries often have a hard time believing a man in his home with a gun reasonably felt threatened by an unknown woman banging on the door if the door wasn’t giving way, even after midnight.
And finally, remember the most important part of the Miranda warning, “…every thing you say can and will be used against you.” Past statements to neighbors and on social media can and will be used against you. Just as we are seeing Michael Brown and Darren Wilson’s respective pasts brought up in the court of public opinion, count on the same happening to you if you are ever involved in a use of force incident.