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A D.C. Superior Court jury on Friday, Oct. 26, found Metropolitan Police Department officer Kenneth Furr guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon and solicitation of prostitution in an altercation with a transgender woman and her companions in the early morning hours of Aug. 26, 2011, when Furr was off-duty. But the jury also found Furr not guilty on five other counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of assault with intent to kill.
Furr, who was acquitted earlier in his trial of a ninth charge of attempted sexual solicitation, was accused of using his weapon twice on the morning in question – once, outside a CVS store, to threaten the woman and two of her companions; and at the intersection of First and Pierce Streets NW, when a car containing the woman, her transgender female friend and three males collided with Furr’s just after Furr exited his car and began shooting at the five victims. The jury found Furr guilty on two charges in the first instance, and not guilty on all charges related to the second.
Judge Russell Canan scheduled sentencing for the two guilty verdicts for Jan. 10, 2013. Furr could face up to 10 years in prison for the assault charge, and up to 90 days for the prostitution charge. He has been released from jail as part of a high-intensity supervision program as he awaits sentencing. While he awaits sentencing, Furr, 48, of Accokeek, Md., must submit to regular testing for alcohol and drugs and remain outside the District.
According to evidence presented at trial, Furr was off-duty and attempting to solicit transgender prostitutes in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood, near the intersection of Fifth and K Streets NW. After a transgender woman declined Furr’s offer, he followed her into a nearby CVS and continued to proposition her in front of two of her male friends. Furr got into an altercation with the three and was told to leave by the store’s security officer.
A short time later, Furr confronted the two men, pulling out a semi-automatic pistol and pointing it at them. The two men ran back to the store and reported the incident to the security officer. After Furr identified himself as a police officer, the security officer let him go. As a result of testimony, the jurors found Furr guilty of the solicitation and assault charges involved in this initial incident.
According to testimony, the charges for which Furr was found not guilty stemmed from events that occurred roughly 20 minutes later, beginning with the woman, her male companions and two other friends again encountering Furr in the area. The five pulled their car next to Furr’s, and at least one of the car’s occupants assaulted Furr, who sped off, with them tailing him.
Furr then drove to the area of First and Pierce Streets NW, in the city’s Sursum Corda neighborhood, where he parked his car and began shooting at the five who had been following him. The driver of the victims’ car ducked and hit the accelerator, causing a crash between the two vehicles, while Furr jumped on the roof of the victims’ car and fired a total of five rounds into it, injuring three of the occupants.
Furr’s arrest, which occurred during a summer wave of anti-LGB and anti-transgender violence, prompted outrage from the LGBT community, particularly after it was revealed that some of the victims had been taken into police custody for questioning before being treated for their injuries.
“The jury in this case has apparently decided that drunkenly shooting at five trans and gay people, injuring three of them, isn’t a crime,” Jason Terry of the DC Trans Coalition, told Metro Weekly via email Oct. 30. “Furr repeatedly escalated this encounter throughout the night, and he clearly made the choice to stop his care and open fire. Furr’s attorneys when out of their way to demonize and discredit these victims. I have little doubt that had the victims not been who they were, the results fo the trial would have been totally different.”
[Editor’s note: This report was updated Tuesday, Oct. 30, 7:31 p.m. to include comment from Jason Terry.]