Sixth District D.C. Police Officers Justin Roth, Joseph Devlin and Derek Dude were working the midnight shift on Aug. 21 when they received a radio call for a domestic violence assault in progress.
The three officers arrived on the 4400 block of C Street, S.E., minutes after other officers who arrived ahead of them saw a woman “kneeling down” over another woman who was lying on the street bleeding, according to a police affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court.
The woman kneeling, who was later identified as suspect Maya Shelia Moore, 25, sprung to her feet and ran from the scene as the other officers chased and quickly apprehended her.
Meanwhile, Roth noticed that blood was spurting from a stab wound on the victim’s right thigh at a rhythm consistent with her heartbeat, the police affidavit says. It says the officers observed other stab wounds to the victim’s chest, neck and abdomen, but the wound to the thigh was clearly the most severe.
“Officers Devlin and Dude rendered first aid to Complainant 1 by putting a tourniquet on Complainant 1’s right thigh by using an unknown citizen’s belt,” the affidavit says.
D.C.’s Fox 5 News, which was the first to report the incident in a Sept. 8 broadcast, reported that police officials and emergency medical technicians arriving in an ambulance believe the woman would have bled to death had the officers not acted quickly to halt the bleeding from a severed artery through the use of the tourniquet.
“Thank you for saving my life and allowing me to have a birthday on Sunday,” Fox 5 quoted the victim as telling the officers.
Moore has been charged with assault with intent to kill while armed in connection with the stabbing incident. A judge has ordered that she be held in jail while awaiting trial.
The police affidavit says Moore and the victim have been in a “romantic relationship” for at least two years.
And in a development that experts on domestic violence say is not uncommon, court records show that Moore was arrested for allegedly assaulting the same victim, her girlfriend, in two separate incidents, one in June of this year and the other in September 2013.
In the June incident, the victim told police Moore struck her in the face with her fist once and hit her in the face a second time with a “closed pocket knife,” resulting in her being taken to Howard University Hospital for treatment, another police affidavit says.
“First off, I’m glad this victim was saved by these officers and the first responders, and hopefully she is safe now,” said June Crenshaw, chair of the board of directors for the Rainbow Response Coalition, a D.C.-based group that promotes public education on LGBT-related domestic violence.
“Unfortunately, statically speaking, it often takes a victim multiple times to leave an abusive relationship,” Crenshaw said. “And sometimes when a victim is attempting to leave the abuse escalates.”
Crenshaw added, “And so this particular incident is not an isolated incident. Unfortunately, these types of situations occur far too often.”
News of the D.C. lesbian victim’s close brush with death at the hands of her girlfriend comes at a time when the subject of domestic violence has been in the national spotlight following the widely reported incident between National Football League player Ray Rice and his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer.
Rice was indicted by a grand jury in New Jersey on a charge of third-degree aggravated assault against Palmer for an incident at an Atlantic City hotel on Feb. 15 of this year. The Baltimore Ravens football team initially suspended Rice for the first two games of the 2014 season.
But the release of a video taken from the hotel’s security cameras showing Rice knocking Palmer unconscious by punching her inside an elevator and dragging her limp body out into the hallway prompted the Ravens to release him from the team. The NFL quickly suspended him indefinitely, triggering a flurry of national news reports on domestic violence among sports figures and people in all walks of life.
Literature posted on the Rainbow Response Coalition’s website cites studies showing that the incidence of domestic violence among same-sex couples is about the same as it is for heterosexual couples.
The group conducted its own study of LGBT “intimate partner violence” in 2009 and found that 28 percent of the respondents participating in the study self-identified as survivors of intimate partner violence.
Crenshaw told the Washington Blade on Tuesday that a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010 found that 44 percent of lesbians and bisexual women reported being a victim of domestic violence. The same study found that 26 percent of gay men reported being victimized by domestic violence compared to 29 percent of heterosexual men who said they were victims of domestic violence.
Members of the D.C. police department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit have said calls for service for domestic violence cases make up the largest single type of call they receive in their work in the LGBT community.
Among other things, the Rainbow Response Coalition provides training and educational materials to D.C.-area police, the courts, and social service agencies on some of the issues that create problems for LGBT domestic violence victims. Crenshaw said a major problem in past years but which still continues is the fear by gay or lesbian victims of being outed if they come forward to report domestic violence.
“Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a pattern of coercive behaviors that includes one or more of the following,” a posting on the Rainbow Response Coalition’s website says. “Physical abuse or the threat of physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive social isolation, deprivation, intimidation, and/or economic coercion” are all forms of intimate partner abuse, the group says on its website.
“For LGBTQ people in relationships, an abusing partner may also use the weapons of heterosexism and homophobia and threaten to ‘out’ an abused partner in a situation where the abused is not out,” the group’s posting says.
Log onto the Rainbow Response Coalition’s website for more information.