Trans Woman Found Dead in Columbia Heights

Cause of death yet to be determined, but police told activists victim suffered trauma to the face

[UPDATE: Metro Weekly received a Metropolitan Police Department email at 5:59 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 13, identifying the victim as Gaurav Gopolan, 35. For further developments, please read ''Going Public with Anti-Trans Attacks.'']

Metropolitan Police Department officers responded to a crime scene in the early morning hours today that, according to sources briefed by police, involved the death of a transgender woman whose injuries included trauma to the face.

Jason Terry, an organizer with the DC Trans Coalition, told Metro Weekly that police called him around 6:15 a.m. this morning to tell him that a transgender woman was involved in the incident, which took place in the 2600 block of 11th Street NW, just south of Fairmont Street.

Columbia Heights crime scene
Columbia Heights crime scene
(Photo by John Riley)

Officer A. Clay, a spokesman for the MPD’s public information office, said a death had been reported from the incident, but has not been classified as a homicide. Clay said the matter was still under investigation.

Terry told Metro Weekly that the victim had been taken to the hospital, pronounced dead and taken to the medical examiner’s office to determine the cause of death. As of 2 p.m. on Sept. 10, Terry said he still did not know the identity of the victim or the cause of death.

Attempts to reach the spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner resulted in Metro Weekly being forwarded to her voicemail.

Terry said that volunteers with the DC Trans Coalition had been on the phone trying to contact transgender women who live in the area, which is located between the Columbia Heights and Park View neighborhoods. In attempting to identify the woman, coalition members said that police told them the victim had been wearing two wristbands generally distributed by nightclubs, one that had Budweiser written on it and one green wristband that had a ghost imprinted on it.

In making calls to the police earlier this morning, Metro Weekly was able to reach Sgt. Carlos Mejia of the MPD’s Special Liaison Unit, which includes the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU). Mejia said he was at the crime scene, but refused to comment on the case, instead directing Metro Weekly to the department’s public information office.

This death is the latest of several recent incidents that MPD officers have responded to involving members of the LGBT community, specifically transgender women, over the past few months. In a recent incident involving members of the transgender community, police responded to complaints on Sept. 3 that two men were attempting to rob transgender women in the Chinatown neighborhood at 5th and K Streets NW.

On August 22, an off-duty MPD officer shot at a car containing two transgender women and three others following an earlier altercation at a nearby CVS store. The officer in that case, Kenneth Furr, has been held without bail as he awaits a trial for assault with a dangerous weapon, as Metro Weekly previously reported.

Earlier in August, a transgender woman was shot at in the 6200 block of Dix Street NE, just two weeks after transgender woman Lashai Mclean was gunned down in the 6100 block of the same street in July.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com