Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Off Duty D.C. Policeman Fires into Transwomen’s Car, Injuring Three

Officer Kenneth Furr appears in court to answer charges of shooting into transgender women's car (Bill Hennessy drawing).

Washington, D. C. – A veteran D.C. cop has been arrested for allegedly pumping five shots into a car occupied by transgender women.  Three people were wounded by the gunfire. The five occupants of the vehicle included three transgender women, and two male friends.  The officer, 47-year-old Kenneth Furr, is a 21-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police.  He is being held pending a hearing.

The shooting incident was sparked by a confrontation at a CVS Pharmacy on 4th and Massachusetts Avenue early on the morning of August 26.  According to court documents, Furr approached one of the transwomen, soliciting her for sex.  After she refused, she and her companions got in their car and drove away.  Details are contested at this point in the story, but the most often discussed account is as follows: Furr was angered by the refusal, and raced in his vehicle to head them off.  Furr blocked the path of the victims’ car with his Cadillac, pointing his gun at the driver, who ducked as his car collided with the parked Cadillac. Officer Furr then leaped on the hood of their Chrysler 300, and shouted “I’m ‘a gonna kill all of you!” as he fired his weapon five times through the Chrysler’s windshield.  Two transwomen were wounded, and one of their friends, according to reports from NBC Washington.  The front-seat passenger suffered multiple gunshot wounds, though none of them were determined to be “life-threatening,” according to a police report.

Other Metro Police responded to the sound of the car crash and the shots.  The police report says that they found the off-duty officer standing on the hood of the victim’s vehicle with his pistol out.  They ordered him to drop the weapon.  Furr is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, and driving while intoxicated.  His blood alcohol content was in excess of 0.15, determined by a breath test.

Police were quick to issue a statement to the press on Friday morning: “Preliminary investigation reveals a confrontation occurred involving an off-duty officer and five other individuals, some of which are members of the transgender community. The officer discharged a handgun and one person was shot and sustained non-life threatening injuries.”  The police statement goes on to say, “Two other individuals involved in the incident sustained injuries which are also non-life threatening. The nature of those injuries is under investigation to determine their cause.” 

Reaction from the transgender activist community was also swift.  The Washington Blade reports that D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, “shocked” by the incident, joined local LGBT activists on Friday to express concern and solidarity for the victims, and for the transgender community of the District.  A series of violent attacks on transgender women,especially transgender women of color, have plagued the District for two years.  Relations between the Metropolitan Police and the transgender community have been strained by perceptions that the MPD has not served or protected the community well.  The actions of Officer Furr have further aggravated the troubles, with some transgender activists openly declaring that they expect nothing to change with the police, no matter what they do.  Mayor Gray issued a statement praising the LGBT community, and saying, “I am deeply troubled by the apparent circumstances surrounding this incident and await the results of a full MPD investigation. These are serious charges, and they are particularly disturbing to have been brought against one who is sworn to protect and serve.”  Leaders from Transgender Health Empowerment and the D.C. Trans Coalition have pledged to help the police with the investigation.

September 10, 2011 - Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, GLBTQ, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Metropolitan Police (D.C.), Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Washington, D.C., women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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