Officer Arrested

Off-duty policeman charged after two transgender women, third victim, shot

by John Riley
Published on September 1, 2011, 3:27am | Comments

The off-duty Metropolitan Police Department officer, Kenneth Furr, who allegedly shot two transgender women seated in a car early Friday, Aug. 26, at First and Pierce Streets NW, appeared for a preliminary hearing at D.C. Superior Court on Tuesday, Aug. 30, where his lawyer withdrew from the case and was replaced by another. Furr's new attorney, Harold Martin, asked for a postponement of the preliminary hearing, which was granted and moved to Friday, Sept. 2. Furr is being held without bond.

According to charging documents made public Aug. 27 at Furr's arraignment, Furr approached one of the transgender women at a CVS at 400 Massachusetts Ave. NW early Friday morning. That led to a second exchange with both women and a male outside the store, where Furr allegedly pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the group, who fled into the CVS. Afterward, the three who encountered Furr joined two others and trailed Furr, both parties in vehicles, in hopes of gleaning enough information to report him to authorities.

The charging document reports that Furr stopped his car near First and Pierce Streets NW, exited and pointed a handgun at the vehicle trailing him. The driver ducked to avoid getting shot, and the two vehicles collided. Furr then allegedly climbed onto the hood of the vehicle and continued shooting. At least one of the women who was shot said she heard Furr say, ''Ima kill all of you.''

One male victim was shot and taken to George Washington University Hospital in serious condition, while the two transgender women who were shot were taken to Howard University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

MPD officers responding to the scene of the shooting smelled alcohol on Furr's breath. Furr was later tested with a blood-alcohol level of .15.

About 12 hours after the shooting, transgender activists and allies held a rally at the scene of the crime, joined by MPD representatives including Deputy Chief Diane Groomes; City Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), in whose ward the crime occurred; and various community organizations such as the DC Trans Coalition; Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV); and Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), which works with a variety of marginalized groups.

Organizers hoped Friday's rally would call attention to alleged police bias against transgender victims of crime, whose rate of unsolved cases is higher than that of the general population.

''This is a totally underserved community, and it's thought that they don't deserve fair treatment,'' said Sau Yang, a HIPS volunteer who attended the rally.

''I think it's fair to say a lot of us are really pissed off,'' said Elijah Edelman, of the DC Trans Coalition. ''We've had conversations with Chief [Cathy] Lanier over the past several weeks, over the past several years, and nothing changes.''

The rally reached its most emotional point when D.C. transgender activist Ruby Corado of the group Latinos en Accion introduced two transgender Latinas.

The two women, Ashley Hernandez and Cindy Reyes, both spoke before the crowd of about 50 people of their personal encounters with violence and what they perceive as a poor police response.

''Like we say in Spanish, this is the bread we eat every day in the transsexual community,'' Reyes said. ''The only thing we can do at times is bow our heads, go back to our homes and cry alone.''