Gerald Thurswell, representing the family, acknowledged that Wafer is unlikely to have that much money. But he said Wafer owns the house in Dearborn Heights where McBride was shot and may have savings and investments.
"Through the criminal justice system, the family got justice," Thurswell said. "And now through the civil justice system, I'm trying to get them compensation for their loss."
Wafer, 55, was convicted of second-degree murder earlier this month. He faces life in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 3.
McBride, 19, a black Detroit resident, apparently knocked on Wafer's door seeking help hours after being involved in a car crash nearby. During the criminal trial, a prosecutor acknowledged McBride was drunk and said she may also have suffered a concussion in the crash.
Cheryl Carpenter, Wafer's lawyer, said he was surprised and frightened by banging on his door at 4 a.m. that wakened him and argued the killing was self-defense. A prosecutor said Wafer went to the door with a loaded shotgun without making any effort to determine if there was a real threat, and only called police after he killed McBride.
Carpenter said she did not know about the lawsuit. She said Wafer worked in maintenance at the Detroit airport.
"He's not a rich man," she said.