Local community organizations and advocacy groups are holding a rally to bring attention to an increase in violence against transgender individuals after an altercation with an off-duty police officer in the Sursum Corda neighborhood injured two transgender women and left an unidentified male in critical condition.
The rally, sponsored by the DC Trans Coalition, will be held at 6 p.m. near the scene of the altercation, at First and Pierce Streets NW. Members of other community groups, including Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) and Transgender Health Empowerment (THE), will speak at the rally.
Activists hope to raise awareness and bolster calls from the LGBT community for increased transparency and accountability in how the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department responds to incidents involving transgender individuals, said Jason Terry of the DC Trans Coalition. Terry told Metro Weekly that the District has the highest number of murders against transgender people in the entire nation, citing statistics from the Transgender Day of Remembrance Project.
”This is the second case where an off-duty police officer has attacked a member of the transgender community,” Terry said, adding that the majority of cases involving crimes against transgender individuals go unsolved, compared to the relatively high success rate for crimes involving the general public.
The incident took place just before 5:30 a.m. at First and Pierce Streets NW, following an altercation between an off-duty MPD officer and five other individuals at a nearby CVS. The five, including two transgender women, then followed the off-duty officer in their car.
Police Chief Cathy Lanier said on a conference call with community groups that there had been a collision between two cars but could not comment on the specific details of the collision. According to transgender advocates who talked with the women, the off-duty officer then opened fire on the car. One male was taken to George Washington Hospital in critical condition and the two transgender women were taken to Howard University Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The suspect has been charged with driving while intoxicated and assault with a deadly weapon, Lanier said. She said the nature of injuries to the victims and a potential bias motivation for the crime – which would bring additional charges – were still under investigation, and would not comment on the specific details of the case.
Lanier said the suspect would be arraigned either later Friday afternoon or on Saturday morning. At that point, the charging documents will be made public.
The DC Trans Coalition reported that the shooter and one of the victims may have been acquainted, though that has not been confirmed. Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said the relationship between the suspect and victims was still under investigation.