May 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. cop charged with shooting at trans women denied release

D.C. Superior Court Judge O'Reagan Keary refused to release Officer Kenneth Furr, who is awaiting trial on attempted murder charges.

An off-duty D.C. police officer who was arrested last August for allegedly firing his service revolver into a car in which three transgender women and two male friends were seated was ordered held in jail on Thursday while he awaits trial.

During a court status hearing on Thursday, May 24, D.C. Superior Court Judge Ann O’Reagan Keary denied a request by attorneys representing Officer Kenneth D. Furr that he be released or that the conditions of his bond be changed.

A trial has been scheduled to begin Oct. 15.

Furr, a 21-year veteran of the police force, has been held without bond since the time of his arrest on Aug. 26, 2011 on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon. A D.C. police arrest affidavit says witnesses saw Furr climb on the hood of a stopped car occupied by five people near First and Pierce Streets, N.W., and fire several shots at the occupants through the windshield.

Two of the women and one of the men in the car suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds in the incident, the affidavit says. Police and the prosecutor in the case said later that the three could easily have been killed in the shooting.

On March 7, a D.C. Superior Court Grand Jury handed down a 9-count indictment against Furr, which includes six counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, one count of assault with intent to kill while armed, and two counts of solicitation for prostitution.

The affidavit says the incident began when Furr allegedly solicited one of the women for sex at a nearby CVS drugstore and became angry when she refused the offer. During the incident her male friend intervened on her behalf. Furr later threatened the male friend with a gun when the two crossed paths outside the store, according to the affidavit.

The male friend and the other victims followed Furr in their car as Furr drove away from the store, saying they wanted to get his license number and report him to police, the affidavit says. It says Furr stopped his car and pulled out his gun when he noticed the other car was following him. The car driven by the male friend of the trans women then crashed into Furr’s car after the driver ducked for cover when he saw Furr brandishing the gun, says the affidavit.

It says Furr responded by climbing on the hood of the car occupied by the five victims and began firing his gun through the windshield. Police initially charged Furr with driving while intoxicated, saying they determined his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit. Authorities later dropped that charge.

At an earlier hearing, Furr’s attorney said Furr was acting in self-defense, saying he feared for his own safety after noticing that the individuals with whom he got into a verbal altercation at the drugstore were “stalking” him in their car.

Although the police affidavit says Furr solicited one of the two trans women for sex at the start of the incident, the indictment charges him with having “invited, enticed, offered, persuaded, and agreed with [the two women] …to engage in prostitution…”

Transgender activists who know the two trans victims have said the women were not engaging in prostitution and that Furr approached at least one of them for a sexual encounter.

The incident outraged LGBT activists, who said it came at a time when transgender women had been victims of assaults and violent hate crimes in a number of previous incidents.

“This indicates that the prosecutors are getting serious about our (LGBT community) complaints or that a reasonable plea agreement was refused,” said transgender activist Jeri Hughes in commenting on the grand jury charge against Furr of assault with intent to kill while armed.

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

  • brian

    Lanier’s MPD Opts For Politics Instead of Policing and Public Safety…

    I would caution Jeri Hughes not to be too effusive in her praise of USAO-DC prosecutors. Exactly how many anti-LGBT HATE CRIMES in DC has USAO-DC prosecuted– say, in the last three years? Wouldn’t that be a token number when compared to the number of hate crimes reported?

    IMHO, it is MPD’s and USAO-DC’s quiet practice to simply ignore DC’s Hate (“Bias-Related”) Crimes law– if they can get away with it. And if that is true, then such practices constitute, de facto, institutional discrimination, both homophobic and transphobic, of a very high order.

    This was a reckless shooting, an attempted murder by– note well, ladies and gents– an off-duty DC Metropolitan Police Officer! This case was simply way too bold and high-profile a crime for MPD and USAO-DC to bury or soft-pedal, as they do with so many other anti-LGBT hate crimes in DC.

    Moreover, MPD continues to treat DC’s LGBT community with contempt, using MPD public relations speeches as a substitute for real law enforcement of our hate crimes law which better insures LGBT public safety.

    Last week, Police Chief Cathy Lanier’s MPD spokesperson brought the *SPIN* of MPD’s purported ‘hate crimes fighting’ to a new, dishonorable low, when she used the shooting of an LGBT patron at IHOP to perpetrate a LIE upon DC’s LGBT residents and its visitors regarding MPD’s record of not preventing anti-LGBT hate crimes.

    As reported by the Blade last week, MPD’s top officials, including, Asst. Chief Diane Groomes, brazenly touted MPD’s abysmal record of anti-hate crime prevention as one of a police department that “remains committed to combating bias-related crimes in the city.” This was done in a MPD presentation before some 150 people at Capital TransPride in SW DC last Saturday.

    But Chief Groomes’ characterization of MPD’s record could not have been further from the truth.

    Fact is, a growing number of DC LGBT residents recognize that MPD’s emperors aren’t wearing much clothing. And Mayor Gray’s administration, including Jeff Richardson, ought to stop defending their pathetic record with feckless, feel-good prattle.

    DC’s LGBT residents should review this outrageous characterization of MPD’s failed record– apparently BY and FOR the reputation of MPD’s top officials. Quoting the Blade article…
    “Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump further defended the MPD’s approach.”

    “One of the District’s most attractive qualities is that it is open and welcoming to people of all nations, races, sexual orientation and gender identity. Intolerance and hate crimes have no place in our vibrant city,” she told the Blade. “With 100 officers and almost all detectives trained to work with the LGBT community to address crimes of all types, we have more resources dedicated than ever before. This in turn helps us to make arrests, as we did in the recent IHOP shooting, and prevent the next crime and victimization.”

    Seriously, Chief Lanier?

    Should we ask Police Chief Lanier if she ordered Gwendolyn Crump to conveniently leave out the other TWO incredibly violent anti-LGBT hate crimes reported that same week– and with subsequent followup news reports by DC’s LGBT press? …

    How come we haven’t heard MPD touting the investigation and closure of those OTHER TWO hate crimes cases? Indeed, if MPD’s record on hate crimes law enforcement is so good, why did the perpetrators feel free to violently assault LGBT victims THREE times in one week? (Maybe FOUR, if the GA. Avenue victim was assaulted TWICE by two different sets of perpetrators.)

    Many of us have not forgotten those (and several other) hate crimes cases. Why has MPD?

    Does Chief Lanier want us to believe Ms. Crump is just another rogue agent of MPD, acting beyond Lanier’s knowledge and command?

    How many times has MPD’s top brass implied that rogue, rank-and-file officers are part of the ant-LGBT bias problem at MPD? Could not the same be said of MPD’s leadership, their record, their policies and their practices?

    And where do MPD’s brass get off disrespecting and using LGBT victims of an extremely violent, hate crimes assault as example “trophies” in a self-serving MPD political PR speech? That, too, is unseemly, unprofessional police conduct of a very high order.

    The risks of the appearance of a conflict of interest, police intimidation of victims, or simply psychological re-victimization of violent crime victims should be obvious to any law enforcement professional. Just how out of touch is Chief Lanier when it comes to her fundamental understanding of the full impact of anti-LGBT hate crimes upon its victims?

    BTW, why has Chief Lanier and MPD been touting and taking great “policing” credit for closing the case of the IHOP shooting? This was a very easy case to close. Any boob could see its high-profile location, witnesses and multiple video cams did not require a lot of detective work. Wasn’t an off-duty MPD officer there, on the scene, as it was happening?

    Why the exaggerated SPIN, Chief Lanier?

    Is there anything MPD’s won’t do to toot its own horn on this subject? Has MPD now devolved to telling bald-faced lies about anti-LGBT hate crimes through its official spokesperson? What else should we take with a grain of salt from MPD’s HQ and its chiefs?

    Don’t judges instruct jurors that if they believe a witness is lying about one event, they can also discount additional testimony of the same witness as a lie or lies?

    MPD’s chiefs must think DC’s LGBT residents and LGBT visitors to Washington are as dumb as a bag of hammers.

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