March 14, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
3 hospitalized after spate of anti-LGBT violence

The International House of Pancakes restaurant in Columbia Heights (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

One gay man was shot in a Columbia Heights restaurant on March 11 and another gay man and a transgender woman were badly beaten on the street the following day in separate incidents during a period of just over 24 hours.

The gay male victims remained hospitalized this week, with one being treated for a bullet wound to his liver and the other awaiting surgery Wednesday afternoon to repair a broken jaw. The transgender woman was treated and released for a head injury after being knocked unconscious.

Police have listed the attacks against the two gay men as anti-gay hate crimes. The attack against the transgender woman was not listed as a hate crime but police are looking into the possibility that it may have been an anti-trans hate crime, according to a police report. Officers assigned to the police Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit were said to be involved in the investigation into each of the incidents.

“We appreciate [D.C.] Metropolitan Police Department’s prompt action regarding the recent attacks and we offer the victims our strongest support while recovering,” said A.J. Singletary, chair of the local group Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV). “We expect MPD to respond by increasing patrols in the affected areas and tenaciously investigating the crimes committed.”

A police report for the shooting incident says the incident began when a male suspect got into a verbal altercation with the victim, a 31-year-old gay man, about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, March 11. The report says the incident took place inside the International House of Pancakes restaurant on the 3100 block of 14th Street, N.W. in Columbia Heights.

The report says a fist fight ensued between the suspect and the victim and that two other suspects, a male and a female, got involved. It says a witness reported hearing a gunshot during the physical altercation and saw the three suspects leave the restaurant and flee in an eastbound direction along Irving Street, N.W.

“Complainant 1 complained of pain to his chest area,” the report says. “Further investigation revealed that C-1 had been shot with an unknown caliber of firearm and was transported to [a hospital] by ambulance.”

Aaron Woodland, who identified himself as the victim’s cousin, said he and another cousin were with the victim at the restaurant when the incident occurred. According to Woodland, the three suspects were sitting at a table near where the victim and the two cousins were seated. He said the suspects referred to the victim and the two cousins repeatedly as “faggies” while the two parties sat at their separate tables.

Woodland said the altercation began when the victim got up to pay the restaurant bill and the three suspects blocked his path. He said a fight started after the victim pushed his way past the suspects.

“Once he did that they started calling him faggy again,” said Woodland.

Woodland said the victim was being treated for a gunshot wound to the liver and was expected to be released from the hospital in about a week.

Police have listed the incident as a hate-related assault with intent to kill.

A police source said the second incident occurred about 9:30 p.m. Monday, March 12, at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Irving Street, N.W., when the victim, a 29-year-old gay man, got out of a cab about two blocks from his home. The source said accounts from witnesses indicate two or three male suspects attacked the victim while calling him anti-gay names as he began to walk home.

Rodney Shaffer, the victim’s partner, said the victim, who asked that his name not be disclosed, told him he remembers being dragged along the street by the attackers, who did not attempt to rob him. Shaffer said the victim called him for help on his cell phone after the attackers walked away. Seconds later, Shaffer said, another group of attackers took the victim’s cell phone, iPad and wallet, leaving the victim lying on the street in a semi-conscious state.

Shaffer said the victim was scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday afternoon to repair a broken jaw. He said the attackers’ blows to his head and face that caused the jaw to break were so severe that the victim had to be sedated with a breathing tube inserted to prevent swelling of tissue caused by the injury from preventing him from breathing.

According to Shaffer, a detective said police were in the process of obtaining a video recording that they hoped has captured the attack through cameras installed in various locations near the site of the incident. Police planned to release posters seeking witnesses of the incident, Shaffer said.

Police reports show that the third incident occurred March 12 at about 11:50 p.m. when a transgender woman was attacked by two young male suspects on the street at West Virginia Avenue and Mt. Olivet Street, N.E.

A police report says the victim reported being hit from behind and knocked unconscious. The report says the victim initially told police she could not remember what, if anything, was said at the time of the assault.

Based on a lack of evidence to indicate the attackers used anti-transgender language or showed an anti-trans bias, the case could not immediately be listed as a hate crime, the police report said.

However, when the victim was being interviewed later at the hospital, she was asked if she thought she was targeted because of her status as a transgender woman, says the report, which was prepared by Officer S.D. Hall, an affiliate member of the police Special Liaison Unit.

Hall said in her report that the woman replied that she did believe she was attacked because of her status as a transgender woman.

The police report for the shooting incident at the IHOP restaurant provides these descriptions of the suspects: Suspect 1—black male between 20 and 23 years old, about 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall, brown eyes and black hair in a crew cut; light brown complexion and a slender build; Suspect 2: black male between 20 and 25 years old, 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing between 190 and 220 pounds, brown eyes, black dreadlocks, medium brown complexion and medium or average build; Suspect 3: black female between 20 and 23 years old, 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing between 190 and 200 pounds, brown eyes, hair in braids, medium complexion and a “heavy/fat/stocky” build.

A description of the suspects in the other two incidents wasn’t immediately available.

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

23 Comments
  • how about passing law to a crime like this gets 99 yeas in prison and never be free under any circumstances til they are dead.you do it,if you are caught,there is no question about your cost that you will pay ,fixed it to where judge has no choice.if you don;t then them crooks wont follow the law..as they are more crooked then and one else..

  • brian / ward 5 / 5D

    ***
    A police report says the victim reported being hit from behind and knocked unconscious. The report says the victim initially told police she could not remember what, if anything, was said at the time of the assault.

    Based on a lack of evidence to indicate the attackers used anti-transgender language or showed an anti-trans bias, the case could not immediately be listed as a hate crime, the police report said.

    However, when the victim was being interviewed later at the hospital, she was asked if she thought she was targeted because of her status as a transgender woman, says the report, which was prepared by Officer S.D. Hall, an affiliate member of the police Special Liaison Unit.

    Hall said in her report that the woman replied that she did believe she was attacked because of her status as a transgender woman.
    ***

    Seriously??? MPD asked a transgender woman who was “KNOCKED UNCONSCIOUS” and “FROM BEHIND” whether SHE thought she was targeted because of her transgender status??? Given the stated facts, a highly speculative answer from a traumatized, recovering trans woman– in the negative– could have provided any less-than-honorable PD an excuse to sweep another inconvenient LGBT hate crimes case under the rug.

    In times past, I have personally seen 5D MPD officers– both rookies and veterans– do exactly that.
    I hope MPD’s detectives and GLLU will not use the victim’s inability to have heard an overt biased remark, or seen an overt biased action, as an excuse to NOT investigate this as a bias-related (hate) crime. Some circumstantial evidence is quite overwhelming. Juries and judges convict violent perps on circumstantial evidence every day on America’s criminal dockets.

    Unlike (in IMHO) most LGBs, trans people are often more identifiable by sight as transgender people by most reasonable observers. Given the numerous unsolved cases of assaults and homicides on trans women in DC– and lacking any other reported single motive to the contrary, MPD should give this anti-trans assault comparable priority to the two anti-gay assaults reported here.

    MPD dog and pony shows are no substitute for MPD and GLLU providing accurate information directly to interested LGBT activists. Given yet another spate of anti-LGBT violence, it was especially disturbing to hear Chief Lanier imply before CM Mendelson’s Judiciary Committee hearing on 29 Feb, that MPD was devoting too much police resources to anti-LGBT violent crimes. The Judiciary Committee should take note of Chief Lanier’s exaggerated protests against LGBT activists’ concerns. It is a smokescreen, and it was a wholly inappropriate, highly generalized assault on the city’s LGBT citizens.

    See Chief Lanier’s DC Council Judiciary Committee testimony (29 Feb 12)…
    http://dc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=12&clip_id=1099
    (approx. at time: 2:27:00)

    More specifically, it is also troubling that MPD (by withholding the stats from GLLU) is not being transparent regarding their investigative progress in anti-trans violent crimes– and even the public statistical reporting of crimes against trans women– as reported by DCTC’s Jason Terry at the same said hearing I noted above.

  • the 29-year old victim happens to be one of my 1st cousins and i could not believe this happened to him when i heard it. whoever did this is despicable and i hope the police deal with you because if it was me dealing it would not be pretty. i know my cousin is gay but he is also a pretty cool person and a nice guy. whoever did this you will pay for what you’ve done. we are all god’s children no matter if we are gay or straight.

  • There is absolutely NO PROOF this is an “anti-gay” hate crime. NONE at all. Most likely the facts will bear out it is a homosexual on homosexual crime and as usual, they blame it on people who they actually hate.

  • brian / Ward 5 (MPD's 5th District)

    “We appreciate [D.C.] Metropolitan Police Department’s prompt action regarding the recent attacks and we offer the victims our strongest support while recovering,” said A.J. Singletary, chair of the local group Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV). “We expect MPD to respond by increasing patrols in the affected areas and tenaciously investigating the crimes committed.”
    ***
    With great respect for A.J. Singletary and the dedicated work of GLOV, I will take some exception to his characterization of MPD’s response to these three anti-LGBT hate crimes– especially at this late date (nearly 4 to 5 full days after the crimes were committed).

    First, it is the DUTY of any police department to take “prompt action” ASAP after violent assaults upon anyone. Given DC’s tough hate crimes law, as well as Police Chief Lanier’s public pronouncements to give anti-LGBT violent hate crimes a high priority, Lanier– and the MPD she very closely manages, has failed to do so with respect to these three violent crimes this week.

    Everyone should understand, this is not a failure of GLLU, nor of the management of its parent unit, MPD’s Special Liaison Division (SLD). Captain Delgado and Sergeant Mejia are highly capable MPD pros with broad experience. The dedicated MPD officers of GLLU’s core and affiliate teams are top-notch, as well. We owe each and every one of them our gratitude for their service to MPD and the city, every day of the week.

    However, both SLD and GLLU are closely monitored and tightly controlled by Chief Cathy Lanier and her Asst. Chief for Patrol Services (and School Security), Diane Groomes. For those who also object to the chiefs’ policies and/or practices, but may occasionally be tempted to make personal attacks on either of them, or their professional integrity– let me assert that Chiefs Lanier and Groomes are two very good people. They are without question, extraordinarily talented managers– and extraordinarily dedicated, good cops. Despite my public criticism of their policies/ practices, I think they have nearly always been responsive to my private communications, usually prodding MPD about one issue or another.

    However, I continue to strongly disagree with Chief Lanier’s policies and practices which are adversely impacting effective law enforcement against violent, anti-LGBT hate crimes perpetrators (and would-be perps who are also watching MPD’s response) in the District of Columbia.

    Moreover, the anti-LGBT tone and comments made by Chief Lanier a few weeks ago, made before CM Mendelson’s Judiciary Committee hearing (of 29 Feb) are extremely troubling. They bespeak a chief of police who is seemingly frustrated at having to deal with the pesky concerns of DC’s LGBT activists concerned for the safety and very lives of our LGBT brothers and sisters.

    DC Council Judiciary Committee testimony (29 Feb 12)…
    http://dc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=12&clip_id=1099

    In addition DC Trans Coalition’s Jason Terry reported at the same Judiciary Committee hearing that SLD/GLLU could not provide him with MPD stats and basic information of transgender-related violent crimes. That is outrageous and unacceptable. The public at large, and especially interested LGBT activists are entitled to such basic information from MPD– both to inform and warn LGBT residents for their own public safety, as well as to monitor MPD’s case closure issues.

    *LIAISON* with the LGBT community is an integral part of SLD/GLLU’s mission. If SLD/GLLU will not provide that basic information to DCTC and the public, it is likely that Chief Lanier is refusing to let them do so. Mayor Gray and members of the Council should take note of this apparently OFFICIAL MPD obstructionism and secrecy.

    What else is MPD’s top brass trying to hide? From whom? And why?

    Mayor Gray– as is appropriate and fitting for the city’s top popularly elected executive, has issued a public statement regarding the week’s anti-LGBT violence. Police Chief Lanier has not.

    What kind of message does that send to the city’s violent hate crimes perpetrators? When police departments remain officially silent about anti-LGBT hate crimes, they risk being, de facto, tacit accomplices in encouraging more anti-LGBT violence.

    Another item… the violent assault on a transgender woman on March 12th, which occurred here in Ward 5 and MPD’s 5th District (WV Avenue, NE, Gallaudet U. area) was not even reported as part of the MPD-5D listserv Daily Report… not on the 13th, nor on the 14th. Is anyone at MPD-5D, besides GLLU officers, paying attention to assaults on trans women? One has to ask, was that intentional on MPD’s part? And if so, why?

    We have had no public statement on our local listservs from MPD-5D Commander Andy Solberg or SLD/GLLU as to what is being done about this assault. The trans woman was apparently stalked and knocked unconscious from behind. In which direction was she walking from? Is MPD-5D canvassing the neighborhood for witnesses and potential video/cam evidence? Is Commander Solberg stepping up patrols? Should Gallaudet U./Trinidad area LGBT residents and visitors be concerned for their own public safety?

    Today’s MPD presser by Asst. Chief Peter Newsham is insufficient and unacceptable. The truth is, if MPD does not adequately investigate the NE assault on a trans woman as a hate crime, such evidence will not be found. So MPD’s ongoing “line” on this trans woman’s assault is pretty tidy, huh?

    The obvious truism that should be self-evident to everyone, is that, unlike most LGBs, many transgender women are recognizable, by sight, as transgender, and that– especially absent any other motive– there can be a reasonable presumption in this case that the assault was motivated by the woman’s status as a transgender.

    With this high level obfuscation, it is no wonder that many in DC’s transgender and LGB communities believe MPD is trying to COVER UP the now-commonplace hate crimes violence against DC’s transgender women.

    NO INFO ON MPD’s LISTSERVS…
    Despite Newsham’s press conference, as of this comment, we have had no MPD public statement on MPD’s SLU listserv, nor MPD’s District listservs and other MPD e-media– whether directly from Chief Lanier or SLD’s/ GLLU’s commands regarding this extraordinary rash of anti-LGBT violence.

    But the fact of the matter is, the buck (ie, the responsibility) stops solely with our Chief of Police.

    If Chief Lanier truly joins Mayor Gray in asserting that anti-LGBT hate crimes will not be tolerated in DC, then SHE should also be unequivocally conveying that message from all of her MPD listservs, e-media and via messages from her 7 district commanders– especially at times when hate crimes are committed so boldly. Anything less, just further reduces MPD’s credibility and effectiveness.

    And, BTW, Chief Lanier, herself, should be present at any public press conferences related to anti-LGBT violence. That sends a message as to how important Chief Lanier views this rash of anti-LGBT crimes, too.

  • Dan I am also one who agrees with you, it’s like the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ some people in our community see hate crimes everywhere after a while no one will listen. Get the stupid liberals judges in this town to give-out harder real time!

    • “Rickindc”, did you even read the descriptions of the crimes? Two of them involve the suspects clearly and repeatedly using unambiguously anti-gay language. Do you REALLY want these facts ignored? And what the hell does a judge’s political leanings have to do with the facts of these assaults?? Clue to the clueless: “nothing”. Get a god-damn grip, bud.

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