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D.C. police struggle over disclosure of transgender murder

Trans woman shot to death in Northeast D.C.



Lashay Mclean
Lashay Mclean

Lashay Mclean. (Photo courtesy Transgender Health Empowerment)

D.C. police initially withheld information disclosing that the victim of a shooting death early Wednesday morning in Northeast Washington was a transgender woman, reopening concerns among LGBT activists about police handling of crimes affecting the transgender community.

In a press release issued Wednesday afternoon, police identified the victim as “23-year-old Myles Mclean of N.E. Washington, D.C.” The release made no mention that “Myles” is the legal birth name given to a transgender woman who had been using the name Lashai Mclean following her gender transition over the past several years.

The press release says Sixth District officers responded to a report of a shooting on the 6100 block of Dix Street, N.E. at 4:26 a.m. on July 20 and found the victim suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. The release says the victim was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

While the department’s Public Information Office omitted information about Mclean being a transgender person in its press release to the news media, the police Special Liaison Division, which oversees the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit, disclosed the transgender angle to the case in e-mails it sent to its list of various community activists and organizations, including LGBT activists.

A police spokesperson said late Thursday that investigators had not determined a motive or identified a suspect in the case.

Around the same time that police issued their press release, the office of Mayor Vincent Gray issued a separate press release that did identify Mclean as a transgender person.

“Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier today reported to Mayor Vincent Gray a homicide overnight at 6110 Dix Street, N.E. in which the victim of a fatal shooting was a transgender person,” says the release from the mayor’s office.

“Jeffrey D. Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs, also was advised of the incident,” the release says. “At this time MPD officials say they have no information to indicate that this is a hate crime. However, it is very early in the investigation.”

The release includes a statement from Gray saying every homicide in the city “is a tragedy for which the perpetrators must be brought to swift justice.” The mayor added, “However, if the investigation concludes that this shooting was the result of bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity, MPD and my administration will work with this community to see that there is an appropriate response to this kind of violence, which cannot be tolerated.”

Gwendolyn Crump, director of the police department’s Office of Communications, told the Blade on Friday that the department has a policy of not disclosing the gender identity or sexual orientation of crime victims unless police determine those characteristics are related to the crime.

“We respect the privacy of our victims,” Crump said.

Transgender activist Earline Budd, an official with the D.C. group Transgender Health Empowerment, said the police policy “makes no sense” in the Lashai Mclean murder case because Mclean lived openly as a transgender woman.

“There’s nothing private about this at all,” Budd said.

“We have requested that the police make a correction on that release,” said Ruby Corado, a member of the D.C. Trans Coalition. “We think the community should be notified about the true nature of this case.”

In the past, police officials have said they have decided on a case by case basis whether to disclose if a crime victim is transgender. In some cases, police officials have said they defer to the wishes of the victim’s parents or next of kin, some of whom have asked police not to reveal that a crime victim is transgender.

In a statement released on Thursday, the D.C. Trans Coalition said it learned from its own sources that “another trans woman was present during the attack and, thankfully, escaped.”

Transgender Health Empowerment, another organization that provides services to the transgender community, said Mclean had been one of the group’s clients and had frequently visited the group’s drop-in facility on North Capitol Street.

“Lashai was a friend to many people in the community – including several D.C. Trans Coalition organizers who offer our sincerest condolence to those grieving this loss,” the D.C. Trans Coalition statement says. “We must stress once again the absolute necessity for the police and media to respect Lashai’s gender identity. The least we can do to honor her memory is to respect her chosen, lived identity.”

The D.C. Trans Coalition and friends of Mclean are holding a candle light vigil in Mclean’s honor on Saturday, July 23, at 7 p.m., at the intersection of 61st and Dix Street, N.E., near where Mclean was murdered.

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  1. blue-heron

    July 22, 2011 at 6:02 am

    The DC Police Department must develop a Policy and Procedure on handling the Disclosure and Reporting of the Gender Identities of crime victims. Disclosure should be standardized and not at the arbitrary discretion of varying individual personalities, especially considering the controversial nature of the issue, and the prevalence of violence against trans-gendered individuals.

    Hiding this information from the public only perpetuates the stygma, and the importance of disclosure to the public that a life has been taken fiills a greater societal need than than randomly pandering to individual biases within the Department and/or family of the Deceased. Transgendered people want and deserve to live, peacefully and safely so, in the City of DC.

    The Decesed would have certainly wanted it to be this way.

  2. brian

    July 22, 2011 at 7:18 am

    If MPD really cared about solving this LGBT-related homicide case, it would have issued its press release (which sought the public’s help for information, w/ reward) to *ALL* of its SEVEN neighborhood district listservs, not just its tiny MPD-SLU listserv and its small MPD-6D listserv.

    If MPD’s brass really thought this transgender-related homicide was important, Chief Lanier, herself, would have posted MPD’s press release CITYWIDE on all MPD listservs, to give it sufficient weight and attention.

    FYI, just for comparison– MPD’s SLU listserv only has about 100 members, many of them MPD officers and civilian employees, plus minority activists and reporters. The MPD-6D listerv has about 600 members. Its nearby neighbor, the MPD-5D listserv has over 1,400 members. And the MPD-4D listserv, covering much of upper NE has over 1,200 members.

    Neither MPD’s 5D, nor its 4D listservs published the press release for this homicide.

    MPD’s chiefs really use their MPD-SLU listserv as a public relations vehicle to pretend to the LGBT community they are doing something serious to prevent and deter crimes against LGBT victims. However, Chief Lanier continues to degrade GLLU’s central unit and its SLU command, and it shows.

    In this instance, what little circulation MPD did give this homicide case, was further downplayed by withholding the victim’s transgender identity and name. Whether intentional or not, it IS, at least, inept police work. The bucks stop with Chief Lanier.

    I think we’re seeing a disturbing and persistent pattern of MPD and its chiefs downplaying LGBT-related crimes on their own listservs and in the wider media. If anti-LGBT crimes were to receive the media attention they deserve, then Chief Lanier (and Mayor Gray) will have to increasingly defend Lanier’s disastrous policy in degrading GLLU’s central unit and its command at SLU.

    In a related development, Mayor Gray’s press release was not sent to NE’s BrooklandGLBT listserv. Again, whether intentional or not, it is not good communications with the LGBT community.

  3. Chris

    July 25, 2011 at 2:31 am

    I bet if that Transgendered Woman was Caucasian from U Street area. They would have found that killer. Lanier I think it’s time you go!

  4. M.P.D. Disrespects yet ANOTHER Transgender woman!

    July 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    The M.P.D. does this intentionally. I was arrested in D.C. 18 months ago and they called me by my birth name the I had legally changed four years earlier. Why in God’s name would I change my name if I wanted to be called by my birth name?! The fucking police told me my new legal female name is an alias. Funny, social security, the State of Maryland, Maryland MVA, and sevaral other agencies accept it as my legal name. Only the M.P.D. are bigots that want to fuel the bigoted stereotypes that their officers and patrolmen continue to keep alive by clinging to that very outdated machismo of yesteryear.

    In the case of a murder victim they have absolutely no legal right to publicly release a statement stating the victims name incorrectly. Unless she hadn’t had it changed legally. If it was changed legally that is technically libel by D.C. statutes.

    Shame on you Chief Lanier. Is it Catty? Or Katty? What is that darn name?

  5. Isabel

    November 17, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Hey chief catty (meow) Lanier what kind of human being are u? The world is progressing to live better with each other, accept each other as we are, but not you. You must be a hundred to still live by old fazed out rules and old wives tales that are inconsequent to our daily life. LEGALLY, do you understand what this means? Let me put it in simple terms for you.
    Court Higher than you
    Decision OKAYED by a judge to change her name
    You see where I am going with this? Either you did not read really well the document the JUDGE signed saying you may change your name or you do not RESPECT the law you yourself is supposed to enforce. Which is it? Are you intelligent and caring or a cold heart, jaded, biatch?

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Heather Mizeur congressional campaign raises more than $1M

Former Md. delegate challenging Andy Harris



Heather Mizeur, Delman Coates, Montgomery County, Silver Spring, Maryland, Maryland House of Delegates, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade, momentum
Former Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur is running for Congress (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Heather Mizeur has raised more than $1 million in her campaign against anti-LGBTQ Republican Congressman Andy Harris in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District.

“No candidate in #MD01 of either party, incumbent or challenger, has ever hit the $1M milestone this early in the election cycle,” Mizeur tweeted on Oct. 6.

The Victory Fund in an Oct. 8 press release said 80 percent of this $1 million came from Maryland-based donors, “a sign the district is ready for new representation.” And Mizeur continues to outpace Harris, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission that say she raised $717,445 for the cycle ending June 30, while Harris raised $425,288.

“Andy Harris has taken every opportunity to attack and vilify trans individuals, trying to score political points with his base at the expense of the safety of some of his constituents,” Mizeur told the Washington Blade.

In 2014 Harris made the Human Rights Campaign’s “Hall of Shame” for proactively working “to undermine existing legal protections and promote anti-LGBT discrimination.”

“In contrast, the LGBTQ community knows me for my record,” Mizeur said. “And knows I’ll always lead with compassion and stand up for civil and human rights. I think the 1st District will respond to my message of respect and understanding.”

Mizeur, who now lives on the Eastern Shore with her wife, served on the Takoma Park City Council. Mizeur was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates for eight years.

In 2014, she launched a long-shot, grassroots campaign for governor where she finished a strong third in the Democratic primary, despite being outraised by better-known opponents.

But Mizeur also said she is aware of the challenges her team faces in taking on a well-entrenched Republican in a solidly conservative district.

The Cook Partisan Voter Index in 2017 rated the district as R +14, meaning the previous two presidential election results in the district skewed 14 percentage points more Republican than the national average.

“We have over $760,000 in the bank, and we’ve outraised him during our time in the race,” Mizeur said. “We’re raising the money we need to go toe-to-toe with Andy Harris next year.”

The Baltimore Sun in February reported Harris was “flush with campaign cash” mostly due to a 2010 redistricting that “packed” the area with Republican voters to increase Democrats’ chances in other district races.

“Yes, Andy Harris has over $1 million in the bank, stockpiled over a decade in office,” Mizeur said. “But in the short time I’ve been in the race, we’ve cut significantly into his cash on hand advantage.”

Harris has represented the 1st Congressional District—which includes Maryland’s Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties—since 2011 and easily fended off most challenges with at least 60 percent of the vote. These challengers include Mia Mason, a transgender military veteran, who ran against him in 2020.

The 2010 redistricting made Harris’ seat safe enough not only to donate nearly a third of his war chest to conservative groups and candidates, such as U.S. Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), but to openly court controversy himself.

Harris last year openly defended then-President Trump’s discredited efforts to overturn the 2020 election. And in December he signed onto an amicus brief supporting a failed lawsuit contesting the presidential election results.

This year he downplayed the violence of the Jan. 6 insurrection in which numerous police officers were attacked, members of Congress were threatened, and the U.S. Capitol was vandalized.

Mizeur told the Blade that while Harris’ actions regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection were the catalyst for her challenging his seat, she feels the district is changing and he no longer represents their interests.

“Our supporters know he’s been embarrassing Maryland in Congress for far too long, and that some of his actions have shown he’s completely unfit to serve in public office, regardless of ideological views,” Mizeur said. “They want someone who will bring compassionate leadership and innovative thinking back to the first district. And that’s appealing to people across party lines.”

Maryland’s primary election is June 28, 2022, and its general election follows on Nov. 8.

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AU student expelled over arrest in attack on gay Asian man, parents

Patrick Trebat no longer affiliated with university



(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

An American University graduate student who was arrested by D.C. police on Aug. 7 on charges that he assaulted a gay Asian man and the man’s parents while shouting homophobic and anti-Asian slurs “is no longer affiliated with the university and will not be allowed on campus,” according to a report by WTOP News.

In an Oct. 9 broadcast that it updated this week, WTOP said Patrick Trebat, 38, who had been taking a night class at the university’s Kogod School of Business, was banned from returning to the campus.

Charging documents filed in D.C. Superior Court show that Trebat was charged by D.C. police with one count of felony assault, two counts of simple assault and one count of destruction of property for allegedly assaulting and injuring Sean Lai, 30, an out gay man of Chinese ancestry, and his parents on the 3700 block of Fulton Street, N.W., on Aug. 7.

The charging documents say Trebat allegedly began to follow Lai and his parents as they were walking along the street in the city’s Observatory Circle neighborhood near the National Cathedral. According to a statement by a police official from the police district whose officers made the arrest, Trebat punched and kicked the three victims as he stated, “Get out of my country.” The police statement says the family was taken to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

A separate police report says Trebat shouted the word “faggots” at the family and shouted, “You are not Americans!”

Based on these allegations, prosecutors classified the assault charges as an anti-Asian bias related crime, but they did not add an anti-gay classification to the charges.

Court records show that Trebat was released two days after his arrest while awaiting trial under the court’s High Intensity Supervision Program, which, among other things, imposed a curfew requiring him to return home by 10 p.m.

An Oct. 8 story in The Eagle, the American University student newspaper, says it learned that Trebat’s attorney filed a motion in court, which the Washington Blade also discovered from court records, asking a judge to extend the curfew deadline from 10 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. so that Trebat could attend at night class at American University.

The motion, which prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not oppose and the judge approved, identified Trebat in the public court records as an AU graduate student.

According to the Eagle, representatives of the university’s Asian American and LGBTQ student groups criticized university officials for not alerting students that an AU student charged with an anti-Asian hate crime while hurling homophobic slurs had access to the campus and could pose a danger to students.

“Patrick Trebant is not affiliated with American University and is not allowed on campus,” AU told the Blade on Wednesday in a statement. “While we cannot discuss details of an individual matter, when a student has been arrested, charged, convicted of, or sentenced for a felony crime, the university’s student conduct code provides for an administrative adjudication process. The safety of our students and our community is our priority.”

The Eagle reports that the code of conduct states that the dean of students or their designee can administratively adjudicate a case when a student has been accused of a non-academic offense “where the student has been arrested, charged, convicted of, or sentenced for a felony crime” for certain misconduct. The code of conduct applies in a situation in which a student is arrested for an off-campus allegation.

Court records show Trebat is scheduled to return to court at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 15 for a felony status hearing before Superior Court Judge Judith Pipe.

Neither Trebat nor his attorney, Brandi Harden, could immediately be reached for comment.

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Two remaining defendants in D.C. trans murder case accept plea bargain

Dee Dee Dodds murdered in Northeast Washington in 2016



Deeniquia Dodds, gay news, Washington Blade
Deeniquia ‘Dee Dee’ Dodds was killed in 2016. (Photo via Facebook)

Two of the four D.C. men who were charged with first-degree murder while armed for the July 4, 2016, shooting death of transgender woman Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds on a Northeast Washington street pleaded guilty on Sept. 30 to a charge of voluntary manslaughter as part of a plea bargain deal offered by prosecutors.

A four-page letter providing details of the plea bargain offer made by prosecutors with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which was filed in D.C. Superior Court, states that the agreement accepted by defendants Jolonta Little, 30, and Monte T. Johnson, 25, includes the decision to drop the murder charge in exchange for a guilty plea to a single count of voluntary manslaughter.

It says that in exchange for the guilty plea prosecutors will also drop additional charges originally brought against Little and Johnson, including robbery while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

The agreement also includes a promise by prosecutors to ask Superior Court Judge Milton C. Lee, who is presiding over the case, to issue a sentence of eight years in prison for both men.

The letter spelling out the details of the plea deal makes it clear that it will be up to Lee to decide whether to accept the eight-year jail term proposed by prosecutors, and there is no guarantee that Lee will not hand down a sentence with a longer prison term.

It states that under the D.C. criminal code, a conviction on a voluntary manslaughter charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Attorneys and observers of the D.C. courts have said judges usually agree to a recommended sentence by prosecutors in cases involving a plea bargain agreement.   

The letter describing the terms of the plea agreement in the Johnson and Little cases does not say whether prosecutors will ask Lee to deduct from the proposed eight-year jail sentence the time that the two men have already spent in jail since the time of their arrest. But in most criminal cases, judges agree to provide full credit for time served in jail prior to a conviction and sentencing.

Johnson has been held without bond for just over five years since his September 2016 arrest. Little has been held without bond for four years and eight months since his arrest in February 2017.

The plea bargain deal came two and a half years after a D.C. Superior Court jury became deadlocked and could not reach a verdict on the first-degree murder charges brought against Johnson and Little following a month-long trial, prompting Lee to declare a mistrial on March 6, 2019.

The two other men charged in Dodd’s murder, Shareem Hall, 27, and his brother, Cyheme Hall, 25, accepted a separate plea bargain deal offered by prosecutors shortly before the start of the 2019 trial in which they pled guilty to second-degree murder. Both testified at the trial as government witnesses.

In dramatic testimony, Cyheme Hall told the jury that it was Johnson who fatally shot Dodds in the neck at point black range after she grabbed the barrel of his handgun as Johnson and Hall attempted to rob her on Division Avenue, N.E., near where she lived. Hall testified that the plan among the four men to rob Dodds did not include the intent to kill her.

In his testimony, Hall said that in the early morning hours of July 4, 2016, he and the other three men made plans to commit armed robberies for cash in areas of D.C. where trans women, most of whom were sex workers, congregated. He testified that the four men got into a car driven by Little and searched the streets for victims that they didn’t expect to offer resistance.

D.C. police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office initially designated the murder charges against Johnson and Little as a hate crime based on findings by homicide detectives that the men were targeting trans women for armed robberies. However, during Johnson and Little’s trial, Lee dismissed the hate crime designation on grounds that there was insufficient evidence by prosecutors to support a hate crime designation.

At the request of prosecutors, Lee scheduled a second trial for Johnson and Little following the deadlocked jury in the first trial. But court records show that for reasons not disclosed in the public court docket, the start of the second trial was postponed several times. The most recent postponement was due to restrictions placed on the court related to the COVID pandemic.

As of August, of this year, the court records show, the second murder trial for Johnson and Little was scheduled to begin on Feb. 17, 2022. But the records show that as of Sept. 30 of this year the defense attorneys and prosecutors reached an agreement over the plea bargain deal offered by prosecutors. It was on that day, the court records show, that the two men officially agreed to plead guilty to the lower charge of voluntary manslaughter and waived their right to a trial. The following day, on Oct. 1, Lee accepted the guilty pleas and scheduled the sentencing for Dec. 10.

Meanwhile, Cyheme Hall and Shareem Hall have remained in the D.C. jail since the time of their respective arrests. Court records show they were scheduled to be sentenced by Lee on Dec. 20, 10 days after the sentencing for Johnson and Little.

It couldn’t immediately be determined from the court records whether prosecutors allowed the Hall brothers to also plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and have dropped the second- degree murder charge to which the two men pled guilty back in 2019 as part of an earlier plea bargain deal.

At the time Johnson and Little’s trial ended with the deadlocked jury in March 2019, LGBTQ activists expressed alarm that the jury’s action appeared to be a repeat occurrence of several previous D.C. cases in which male attackers charged with assaulting and murdering trans women of color were not convicted for those crimes.

“This is a very dangerous move on the part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Ruby Corado, founder and former executive director of Casa Ruby, the D.C. LGBTQ community services center, in referring to the plea deal.

“We need to be strengthening laws to ensure that the horrible epidemic of violence against LGBTQ people that we currently face ends, and not giving criminals a slap on the hand for committing murders against us,” Corado told the Washington Blade. “This sends a message that our lives don’t matter that much to those who already see us as easy targets; we are now becoming disposable people in the eyes of the law.”

D.C. trans rights advocate Alexis Blackmon, Casa Ruby’s interim executive director, called the plea bargain deal offered to Little and Johnson “very disturbing.” Added Blackmon, “How it’s being read across to me is if we can’t convict you on murder then we’re going to basically slap your wrist.”

Blackmon said she will consult with other local LGBTQ activists to determine whether a representative of the LGBTQ community should request to testify at Little and Johnson’s Dec. 10 sentencing hearing to ask the judge to hand down a sentence greater than eight years.

D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and trans advocate Monika Nemeth said she too is troubled over the plea bargain agreement.

“While I am stunned by a plea that reduces the charge from first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter, I should not be as we are still a society for whom trans people, particularly trans women of color, are not valued and are disposable,” Nemeth said. “I don’t see how you get to voluntary manslaughter when the victims were targeted for being trans. This is not justice.”

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said he would make inquires with the office’s prosecutors to obtain a response to a question from the Blade asking for an explanation of why the decision was made to issue the plea bargain offer rather than bring defendants Little and Johnson to trial on the murder charge.

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