The transgender supervisor of the D.C. police department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, was the first police officer on the scene at a downtown office building on Nov. 15, where an armed transgender woman holed up on the roof triggered a 10-hour standoff that nearly brought the city’s business district to a halt.
According to a police arrest affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court, a friend of 31-year-old trans woman Sophia Dalke called Hawkins about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, to report that Dalke was threatening to commit suicide.
“Sgt. Hawkins was familiar with the defendant and called her to check on her,” the affidavit says. “The defendant told Sgt. Hawkins that she wanted to end her life by jumping off a building, that she had a .45 caliber handgun in her possession, and that she was going to shoot out the windows of nearby office buildings,” the affidavit states.
It says Dalke went to the upscale office building at 1999 K St., N.W., where her LinkedIn page says she worked as an IT support specialist for an agricultural investment company called Farmer Mac.
“Sgt. Hawkins responded to the location and requested MPD assistance over the radio,” according to the affidavit. It says that shortly after the first police scout car arrived Hawkins heard a gunshot from the building’s roof as well as over the phone.
“Sgt. Hawkins then heard two more gunshots from the roof. The responding officers who were on the street outside of the offense location took cover,” says the affidavit.
That development, coming on the heels of the terrorist shootings and attacks in Paris one week earlier, prompted D.C. police to shut down surrounding streets, set up a command post and declare a “barricade situation” was unfolding, the affidavit says.
As the standoff extended into the Monday morning rush hour on Nov. 16, a massive traffic jam was created and hundreds of workers both in vehicles and on foot were prevented from getting to their offices.
With the police Emergency Response Team and its hostage/crisis negotiator team on the scene, Dalke finally surrendered peacefully about 10:30 a.m., the affidavit says. But it took police nearly two more hours before they reopened surrounding streets and sidewalks, according to media reports.
Hawkins has declined to comment on her role in responding to the standoff, saying she isn’t authorized to speak to the media. Police spokesperson Lt. Sean Conboy has said police would not comment on Hawkins’ involvement in the police response to the standoff.
But transgender activist Earline Budd, the lead organizer of D.C.’s Nov. 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance, told a crowd of more than 200 people attending the event that she considered Hawkins a hero for her efforts in helping to prevent what Budd said could have turned into a bloodbath.
Budd said she also learned that Lt. Cheryl Crawley, commander of the police Special Liaison Division, which oversees the GLLU, was also on the scene of the office building standoff.
The police affidavit says that after Dalke surrendered and was arrested on a charge of assault on a police officer while armed investigators went to the rooftop and observed that a double pane window had been shot out. It says police found a black Heckler and Koch .40 caliber handgun on a window ledge along with shell casings, a live round of ammunition and a loaded magazine.
It says police officers on the roof also observed shattered glass windows on the 8th and 11th floors of an adjacent office building. “All of the broken windows appeared to be the result of being shot out,” the affidavit says.
It says that after being taken into custody at the Second Police District, Dalke waived her Miranda rights and told detectives her “life had devolved recently” and that she “intended to die that night” by jumping off the roof of the building.
“She told MPD members that she [did] not intend to hurt anyone and believed that no one would be harmed because the buildings were dark,” the affidavit says.
“The defendant did not have a license to carry a firearm in the District of Columbia,” it says. “The defendant did not have registration for the ammunition.”
Court records show that Dalke has been hospitalized since the time of her arrest resulting in a delay in her appearance in court, where a judge is to decide whether she should be held or released while awaiting trial. She was scheduled to appear in court for a presentment hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 24.
In addition to saying she worked for Farmer Mac, Dalke says on her LinkedIn page that she also served as a volunteer for Transgender Legal Advocates of Washington, which is also known as Trans Law.