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Probable cause found that off-duty cop fired gun at trans women

Judge orders D.C. officer held without bond

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Gay News, Washington Blade, Crime

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Sept. 2 ruled that prosecutors established probable cause that an off-duty D.C. police officer committed an assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly firing a pistol at three transgender women and two male friends during an Aug. 26 incident in Northwest Washington.

Judge Ann O’Regan Keary ordered Officer Kenneth Furr, a 21-year veteran on the force, held without bond pending his trial. Keary said evidence presented by police and prosecutors showed that releasing the officer would pose a danger to the community.

The judge’s ruling came during a preliminary hearing in which First District police Det. James Freeman provided detailed testimony about his investigation of the incident.

Freeman testified that the victims and at least two D.C. police officers who were in the vicinity of the shooting reported that Furr stood on the hood of a car in which the victims were sitting and fired at them through the windshield.

He said witnesses and the victims reported that the incident began about 4:40 a.m. at a CVS drug store at 400 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., when Furr and one of the shooting victims reportedly got into a “verbal altercation.”

Transgender activist Jeri Hughes said one of the transgender women involved in the incident told her the verbal altercation inside the CVS store started when Furr approached one of the transgender women and invited her to engage in sex. Furr reportedly became angry when she turned him down, Hughes said, prompting the woman’s male friend to exchange words with Furr in an effort to get him to leave the woman alone.

Freeman testified that Furr and the same person who argued with Furr inside the CVS store exchanged words outside the store a short time later while Furr was sitting in his car parked nearby.

According to Freeman, Furr reportedly retrieved a handgun from the glove compartment of his car, pointed it at the person and threatened to shoot the person, who is believed to be one of the male friends of the trans women.

The same person returned to the CVS store and told a security guard that Furr had threatened him with a gun, a police affidavit says. The victim then met up with the other four people, including the three transgender women, and all five got into one of their cars and followed Furr, who drove away in his car, Freeman testified.

When both cars reached the intersection of First and Pierce streets, N.W., Furr jumped out of his car and began to shoot at the car where the five others were riding, Freeman told the court hearing. The shooting prompted the driver to crouch down to avoid being hit, causing the car he was driving to collide with Furr’s car, Freeman said.

That’s when Furr apparently climbed on the hood of the other car and fired his gun through the windshield, the victims and police witnesses reported.

Police and transgender activists who spoke with at least two of the victims said two of three transgender women in the car suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds during the incident. Transgender activists said one of two male friends who were in the car was also was struck and suffered serious but non-life threatening wounds. All three were treated in area hospitals, the activists said.

In his testimony at the Sept. 2 hearing Freeman recounted details from a police affidavit he prepared that lists each of the five people in the car as unidentified witnesses. Neither the affidavit nor Freeman during his court testimony mentioned that three of the five people in the car at which Furr allegedly fired his gun were members of the transgender community.

News that some of the victims were members of the transgender community emerged from a police news release on the day of the incident. Deputy D.C. Police Chief Diane Groomes made personal calls to LGBT activists shortly after 5 a.m. on Aug. 26, just minutes after the incident occurred, to inform them of what happened and to note that police and the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit were investigating the incident.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Worm argued at the court hearing that police provided sufficient evidence that probable cause exists that Furr committed an assault with a dangerous weapon two times – once when he pointed the gun at one or two of the victims outside the CVS store and another time when he fired his gun at the victims while they were in their car.

Furr’s defense attorney, Harold Martin, told Keary accounts of the incident by various witnesses appeared to differ, making it difficult to determine the events that led to the shooting. He noted that the car in which the five people were riding followed Furr in the “wee hours of the morning” and Furr had a legal right to defend himself if he believed he was in danger.

He also pointed to the police affidavit’s assertion that one of the victims admitted to being drunk at the time of the incident and another victim admitted to having smoked marijuana the night prior to the incident.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions about what happened that night,” he said.

“The defendant exhibited extremely reckless behavior,” Worm told the judge. “He shot at least five times and certainly all five could have been killed.”

She pointed to a statement by at least one of the victims that Furr shouted “Ima kill all of you” before he started shooting into the vehicle.

Worm noted a police breadth test also found that Furr “had been drinking a substantial amount of alcohol” and that he had a prior arrest in D.C. for driving while intoxicated. Police initially charged Furr with driving while intoxicated in the latest incident but the U.S. Attorney’s office did not file that charge in court.

Nearly a dozen family members and friends of Furr’s sat in the courtroom during the hearing, a fact that defense attorney Martin mentioned while arguing that Furr’s strong community ties were among the grounds for allowing him to be released while awaiting trial.

But Keary, in issuing her ruling on the matter, said the government met the legal criteria needed to have Furr held in jail, saying no combination of circumstances or mitigating factors could override her belief that Furr would pose a danger to the public if released.

She scheduled a status hearing for Oct. 7. The case was expected to go before a grand jury in the next few weeks.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jeri Hughes

    September 6, 2011 at 9:23 am

    attempted murder, and assault with intent to kill. or something. this is more than an assault with a firearm. and i am thankful that this maniac has not been released on our streets.

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Comings & Goings

Nathanson takes role at Outright Action

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Rikki Nathanson

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected] 

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. 

Congratulations to Rikki Nathanson on her new position as Senior Advisor – Global Trans Program with OutRight Action International in New York. Nathanson will be based in D.C.  

 “I am absolutely thrilled to be taking on this new role as Senior Advisor in OutRight’s Global Trans Program,” said Nathanson. “I have finally found the perfect fit for me: as a trans woman who has been fighting for equality not only for myself, but for others globally, this position is not only a job, it’s intrinsically part of who I am. So, what better way to live, nurture and grow myself.” 

Nathanson will be working closely with all program staff to ensure a cohesive and intentional approach to gender issues throughout OutRight’s programs, including its approach to gender ideology movements. She will lead new initiatives on gender advocacy and policy change, focused but not limited to legal gender recognition and anti-discrimination legislation and policies.

Prior to this Nathanson was director of housing programs at Casa Ruby in D.C. She has also held a number of other positions including: founder/executive director of Trans Research, Education, Advocacy & Training (TREAT), Zimbabwe; chairperson Southern Africa Trans Forum, SATF, Cape Town, South Africa; executive director, Ricochet Modeling Agency, Zimbabwe; and company secretary for Dunlop Zimbabwe Limited, Zimbabwe. 

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SMYAL Director Shakir to step down Dec. 31

Board to launch Executive Search beginning in January

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SMYAL Executive Director Sultan Shakir addresses the crowd at the 2021 Fall Brunch. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Sultan Shakir, who has served as executive director of D.C.’s LGBTQ youth advocacy organization SMYAL since August 2014, announced on Friday that he will be stepping down from his position effective Dec. 31.

In a Dec. 3 announcement, SMYAL said details of Shakir’s future career plans would be announced in the coming weeks.

“While we are sad to see Sultan leave, we wish him nothing but the same success in his new endeavor as he had at SMYAL,” said Rob Cogorno, SMYAL’s board chair. “His leadership and vision enabled SMYAL to expand greatly needed services to LGBTQ youth in the DC metro area throughout his tenure,” Cogorno said.

“I am immensely proud of the work we have been able to accomplish together in my time at SMYAL,” Shakir said in a statement released by SMYAL. “SMYAL has been an integral and vital resource in the DMV community for over 37 years, and while we have come a long way in combating homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexual health stigma, homelessness, violence against the LGBTQ community, and oppression, we have a long way to go,” he said.

“This work has never been about one person,” said Shakir. “SMYAL was founded by our community and we’re still around because of our community,” he said. “I leave knowing that the commitment and passion of the SMYAL Board, staff, volunteers, and youth leaders have created a solid foundation from which our work will continue to grow until LGBTQ youth no longer need us.”

The SMYAL statement says that under Shakir’s tenure, SMYAL, which stands for Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders, expanded its programs and services for LGBTQ youth. Among other things, in 2017 SMYAL opened its first of several housing facilities for homeless LGBTQ youth that include culturally competent case management, education and employment assistance.

“The Youth Housing Program now comprises five programmatic models that serve a combined 61 youth residents,” the statement says.

It points out that also under Shakir’s leadership, SMYAL expanded the age range of the youth its programs serve under a new Little SMYALs program, which welcomes LGBTQ youth ages 6-12. And earlier in 2021 under Shakir’s guidance, SMYAL began a new Clinical Services Department “which provides affirming and accessible mental health counseling,” the statement says.

“The SMYAL Board of Directors will officially launch an Executive Search beginning in January 2022 and expects to have named a new Executive Director by summer 2022,” the statement says. It says the board will soon name an interim executive director to work with SMYAL’s Deputy Executive Director, Jorge Membreno, and the organization’s leadership team to oversee the day-to-day activities until a new executive director is named.

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Rainbow History Project to honor LGBTQ ‘Pioneers’

Virtual celebration to take place on Dec. 9

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David Mariner, gay news, Washington Blade
David Mariner (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C.’s Rainbow History Project says it will honor and recognize 12 individuals and one organization by designating them as Community Pioneers “for their diverse contributions to the Washington-area LGBTQ community” at a Dec. 9 virtual celebration.

“Rainbow History Project is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing the LGBT history of metropolitan Washington, D.C.,” the group says in a statement announcing the event. “The Pioneers awards recognize diverse community leaders for their roles as organizational founders, innovators, advocates and volunteers,” the statement says.

“The Pioneers celebration will be held virtually and is designed with special features that reproduce the feeling of attending in-person, such as live streaming and video chatting with other attendees and Pioneers before and after the core awards programing,” according to the statement.

“Celebrating our Community Pioneers has been a cherished tradition since Rainbow History Project’s founding 21 years ago,” said Rob Berger, the organization’s chairperson. “It’s always an inspiring event, and we are happy that our virtual platform will still allow participants to meet and talk with the Pioneers,” Berger said in the statement.

The virtual event is free and open to the public, the statement says. Organizers released this link for those interested in attending, saying a short registration process may require registering in advance. 

Remo Conference

Following is the list of Community Pioneers scheduled to be honored at the Dec. 9 event as released by Rainbow History Project along with the project’s description of their backgrounds.

Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance, a local group that since its founding has addressed equal rights issues for LGBTQ Virginians from a state and local perspective.

– Eboné F. Bell, founder and editor-in-chief of Tagg Magazine and Tagg Communication LLC.

Bart Forbes, founding member of “Gay Fairfax,” a pioneering television newsmagazine program in Northern Virginia.

– Ellen Kahan, youth and family advocate, president of Rainbow Families, former director of the Lesbian Services Program at Whitman-Walker Health, and currently senior director of programs and partnerships at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

– Theodore Kirkland (deceased), a co-founder of D.C. Black Pride in 1991, member of the Gay Liberation Front and Skyline Faggots, active community health volunteer and advocate.

– Paul Marengo, community leader through LGBTQ organizations including Reel Affirmations, Cherry Fund, and Pride celebrations for youth, Latino, Black and Transgender communities.

– David Mariner, executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, and former executive director of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community.

– Mark Meinke founder longtime chair, Rainbow History Project, and co-founder of Rainbow Heritage Network, a national organization for the recognition and preservation of sites, history and heritage associated with sexual and gender minorities.

– Michael “Micci” Sainte Andress, artist, health educator and advocate and an early leader in bringing African Americans into HIV/AIDS clinical trials.

– Boden Sandstrom, founder and owner of Woman Sound (later City Sound), the first all-woman sound company, which makes LGBTQ rights rallies and the women’s music scene possible.

Casse Culver (deceased), nationally acclaimed D.C. lesbian feminist singer-songwriter, and partner of Boden Sandstrom, whose followers said her love songs and feminist lyrics moved audiences from foot stomping to silent reflection.  

Alan Sharpe, playwright, director and co-founder of the African American Collective Theater in Washington, D.C., in 1976, which now focuses on LGBTQ life and culture in the Black community.

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