August 30, 2011 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Hearing postponed for cop charged with shooting trans women

An off-duty D.C. police officer charged with firing a pistol at three transgender women and two male friends last Friday was in handcuffs Tuesday morning as marshals led him into court for a preliminary hearing.

D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield, who is presiding over the case, granted a request by an attorney representing Officer Kenneth Furr to postpone the hearing until Friday, adding to the suspense surrounding an incident that has outraged LGBT activists and city officials, including Mayor Vincent Gray.

Satterfield ordered Furr returned to jail pending Friday’s hearing, where the judge will rule on whether the officer should remain in jail while he awaits trial.

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Furr has been on the force for more than 20 years. He was charged on Friday with assault with a dangerous weapon and driving while intoxicated following allegations by the victims and witnesses that he shot at least three of five people sitting in a car about 5:25 a.m. on Aug. 29 at First and Pierce streets, N.W.

Two of three transgender women sitting in the car were hit by bullets and suffered non-life threatening injures, police said. One of two males in the car was also struck, suffering serious but non-life threatening wounds, according to police and witnesses.

A police affidavit filed in court says the victims and on-duty D.C. police officers, who were in the area when the shooting took place, reported seeing Furr standing on the hood of the car in which the victims were sitting.

Two of the victims said he fired his gun at them through the car windshield, striking them as they screamed in horror, according to transgender activists who spoke with the victims.

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D.C. transgender activist Jeri Hughes said two of the trans women shot during the incident told her that police officers arriving on the scene handcuffed them and “treated them like criminals instead of victims.”

Hughes and other LGBT activists said police appeared to have called in the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit to assist in the case and quickly alerted LGBT activists through a police e-mail list used to communicate with the LGBT community.

But Hughes said the report by the victims that officers handcuffed them confirmed yet again longstanding concerns within the transgender community that D.C. police are biased against the trans community.

Officer Araz Alali, a police spokesperson, said Tuesday that the department was unaware of that allegation.

“We have not heard that the police handcuffed the complainants,” he said, adding that the department was still investigating the case and more information could surface about such an allegation.

The police affidavit says the incident began a few blocks away at a CVS drugstore at 400 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., when Furr approached one of the witnesses in the case and engaged the witness in conversation. It says another of the witnesses got into a “verbal altercation” with Furr before the two witnesses left the store.

Transgender activists who spoke with at least two of the transgender women shot in the incident said the women told them Furr approached one of them during that initial encounter at or near the CVS store and expressed interest in having sex with her. Furr reportedly became angry when the women turned down his request, the activists who spoke with the two women said.

The affidavit says that members of the group of three trans women and two male friends crossed paths with Furr minutes later on the street, when Furr made a comment to one of them while he was sitting in his car parked outside the CVS store.

“Another verbal altercation ensured, and during the argument, defendant Furr reached into the glove compartment of his vehicle and retrieved a dark-colored handgun and pointed it at witness 1” the affidavit says. It says witness 1 and witness 5, who are believed to be one of the trans women and her male friend, returned to the CVS store and reported to an off-duty police officer working there as a security guard that Furr threatened them with a gun.

According to the affidavit, witness 1 and 5 then met up with the other witnesses identified as the victims in the case and entered a car belonging to witness 1.

“While driving, witness 1 saw the white Cadillac driven by defendant Furr and followed the Cadillac in the hopes that it could again report defendant Furr for pointing a gun at it,” the affidavit says. “At some point, defendant Furr stopped his car and as witness 1 went to drive around defendant Furr’s car, defendant Furr stepped out of his car with a gun pointed toward witness 1’s vehicle,” says the affidavit.

“Witness 1 ducked down in an attempt to avoid being shot, and then heard shots fired and felt a jolt which he later realized was [his] car colliding with defendant Furr’s car,” the affidavit says. “When witness 1 looked up [he] saw defendant Furr standing on top of the witnesses’ vehicle with a handgun and firing shots into the vehicle.”

The affidavit says another of the victims identified as witness 4 “reportedly heard the man who was shooting say, ‘Ima kill all of you’ before he started shooting into the vehicle.”

Police said they suspended Furr’s police powers at the time of his arrest pending an investigation by the department’s Internal Affairs Division.

Court records show Furr was charged with driving while intoxicated in a separate incident in 2004. Records show the D.C. attorney general’s office dropped the charge after Furr completed a diversion program. Details of the diversion program couldn’t be immediately obtained from court records, but such programs usually involve requiring a defendant to undergo counseling or alcohol treatment.

 

 

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

12 Comments
  • Imagine.

    You are hanging with friends, and go to a convenience store to get cigarettes or whatever before you go home. In the store, you get hit on by an older guy who you have no interest in. After you tell him you aren’t interested, he further insults you by offering you money. And then more money. You aren’t having any of it. A male friend asks him to leave you alone – nicely. You pay for your stuff and leave the store. The same nut job is outside and flashes a gun at your friend, threatening him. You leave in your car. Down the street, the nut job blocks the path of your car, screams ” I’ma kill you all” and opens fire with a semi-automatic glock. Glass is shattering. The back windshield explodes. You are cowering in the car, terrified that you will be killed. You are grazed by a bullet. Your friends are hit! Everyone is screaming! NUT JOB jumps on the hood of the car and keeps firing through the roof of the car – bullets are flying!

    Now…..

    The MPD arrives. They take the gun from NUT JOB, smoke still coming out of the barrel. They gently lead NUT JOB away, and escort him to a cruiser. MPD have their own weapons drawn, and they are pointing at YOU! They are telling you to lie down, and hands up…they are yelling at YOU! They handcuff you all and take YOU away. Your friends who are shot are put in a wagon…they take you all to a hospital. At the hospital, they call you sir even though you are obviously a woman. They intimidate you. What were you doing? Why were you there? Where are the drugs? What have you had to drink? You are bleeding. You are scared. You are in shock. MPD puts you in a room the size of a closet, and come in to interrogate you. You are in the room for what seems like forever…a couple of hours. You are misgendered some more. You are insulted some more. You are intimidated some more. MPD brass is there…they bring a friend to talk to you, to get you to cooperate. You tell them what happened. And then they just let you go.

    They don’t offer victim services. They don’t even apologize for their insults. They let you go.

    Later, morons on the internet blame you for being in a bad neighborhood. Or soliciting sex for money. or somehow deserving of all that has happened. You are young. You are black. You are pretty. You must be to blame. You asked for it. Because, after all, you are transgender.

    Imagine. In a world that is hateful and insane, you are always somehow at fault.

    And to all of you out there who would criticize these young women?

    SHAME.

  • If the life is as miserable as you put it, dear Jeri, I encourage you and others in your trans-whatever-it-is (transexual, transgender, tranvestite, etc.) community to obtain intensive counseling because you are obviously hurting. I feel for you. Your life must be hell. Which makes me wonder why couldn’t you deal with your “issues” in a more self-satisfying manner than changing sexes? I just don’t get it. If I thought I would be miserable by changing I would make the best of my God-given gender and deal with it. I’ve dealt with my gay-ness in a predominately straight world in a very well adjusted manner. Seems you could have done the same, too.

    I bet in your heart of hearts you wish you had never changed sexes, don’t you?

    • DUH, I can’t be bothered to look up the clinical diagnosis and prescribed treatment for a disorder so I’ll make stupid pop-psych suggestions instead of actually supporting an oppressed medical minority. DUH!

  • LaurelBOY, you are beyond pathetic. since you asked, i have never – for one minute – regretted living my life in my authentic gender. i realize you “don’t get it.” you lack both intelligence and empathy. judging by your comments, you are most probably incapable of being educated, mainly because you appear to get a thrill out of your own ignorance. willful ignorance. bigotry. you make these comments, of course, hidden behind a screen name, because you are not genuine enough to be out about being a bigot, either. people are different. it is okay to be different. it’s even okay to be a hateful coward, like yourself. but don’t call me dear. i don’t have to like you. and that is okay, too.

  • Laurelboy2 you are the proof that LGBT people are the same as everyone else. Some are just ignorant a$$holes. I don’t think any of us like taking crap from straight people, but to hear it from another LGBT person is just pathetic.

    • I take umbrage to your comment. If someone knows all the miserable and challenging experiences one is likely to endure by altering your sex, why would you choose to do it? Trans people only have themselves to blame for their misery; they’re the ones who decided to go under the knife instead of sucking it up and dealing with their situation in the most productive and manageable way possible – just like gay people do everyday.

      • If only the gay and lesbian pioneers had had the good sense to cower in the closet instead of facing abuse for their orientation, all would be well in the gay and lesbian community, right?

        People face the “miserable and challenging experiences” because being closeted fucking sucks. It eats away at your life a little bit every day. I can’t believe you have the appalling indecency to suggest that if everyone would just shut up and hide in the closet that everything would be just fine. How DARE you?

  • No one should be allow to treat another person any difference, on there sexual preference in life. And they should not be able to harass, bully upon another person in any shape are forum of any sort. As well they have a giving right to accept are refuse and denial any advancement at will, in sexual are personal made upon at there own consent.

  • Thank you, Jeri. I can’t personally know the sting of MPD mistreatment of transgender persons. But many of us know, from past experience, how generally accurate your account of MPD mistreatment has been (and no doubt, still is, among too many at MPD) for lesbian, gay and bisexual complainants, as well.

    The unseen, ancillary consequences of cutting GLLU’s core by attrition– letting it ‘whither on the vine’, as I think CM Jim Graham put it– has been a Department-wide loss of respect for GLLU’s LGBT-savvy policing, and, by natural inference, the LGBT residents and stakeholders GLLU serves.

    I don’t believe the Chiefs fully understand how deeply ingrained transphobia (and homophobia) is within the Department– especially among its male officers– and within society, in general. They have to focus on reversing those unintended consequences in every way possible.

    In the meantime, please know that the overwhelming majority of your LGBQ brothers and sisters appreciate the activism of our region’s entire transgender community, and know very well that activism redounds to us all.

    Your struggle is our struggle. Little by little you are improving life for all of us– and all at MPD, too. We can’t thank you enough.

  • Isn’t the real issue here that a cop shot down a group of people who were not committing a crime? Be they male, female, both, neither, white, minority, young or old they are still HUMANS and deserve protection from violent attacks by our police. Hell even animals are protected from violence by law.

    “i don’t like them” is not good enough a reason to hurt someone. It will NEVER be a good enough reason to hurt anyone. It shouldn’t be a debate about weather trans should or shouldn’t be abused; we should be demanding to know why they think a cop should be allowed to outright attack a law abiding human being.

  • How come nobody is talking about the transphobic language used in MPD’s police affadavit? They repeatedly refer to the trans woman witness as “it.” “It” is not a proper pronoun for a human being.

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