D.C. police on Wednesday arrested an 18-year-old D.C. man on a charge of aggravated assault while armed for allegedly intentionally hitting a transgender woman with the vehicle he was driving on the 400 block of K Street, N.E. on July 5.
At the time of the incident, which took place around 3 a.m., police said the driver of the vehicle fled the scene and was being sought as part of a criminal investigation.
Police on Wednesday said members of the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force located and arrested Startwaune Anderson of Northeast D.C. just before 3 p.m. Wednesday in the unit block of 56th Place, N.E. Police said they obtained a D.C. Superior Court warrant for his arrest on July 10.
Anderson was expected to appear in court Thursday morning for a presentment hearing.
At a news conference Wednesday evening at D.C. police headquarters, Capt. Anthony Haythe, acting commander of the police Homicide Branch, said the victim in the attack remains in critical but stable condition at Washington Hospital Center.
A police statement announcing the arrest identifies the victim by her birth name. Friends who know her, including an employee at the LGBT community services center Casa Ruby, identified the woman as Boo Boo Washington.
Haythe said the police investigation, which included interviews with the victim’s family members, determined that Washington self-identified as a transgender woman.
“After the initial investigation it became clear that this vehicle was used as a weapon,” Haythe said.
“We cannot definitely say at this point if it was a hate crime,” he said in response to reporters’ questions. “But we have not ruled that out and we are still investigating it.”
When asked about unconfirmed reports that Washington and Anderson may have exchanged words before Washington was struck by the vehicle, Haythe said he could not disclose further details, including the circumstances that may have prompted Anderson’s action, until charging documents were filed in Superior Court Thursday morning.
He said the case was transferred from the department’s Major Crash Section to the Homicide Branch after investigators determined the victim had sustained life-threatening injuries. Haythe noted that under a longstanding D.C. police policy criminal cases in which a victim sustains life-threatening injuries are automatically taken by the Homicide Branch.
A police statement released Wednesday says Washington, 26, was suffering from “a bleed on the brain, multiple rib fractures, a lacerated spleen, a punctured lung, and has been sedated and placed onto a breathing machine.”
A police report released shortly after the incident took place listed the hit and run attack on Washington as an assault with intent to kill. Haythe said at the news conference that the U.S. Attorney’s Office made the decision to initially charge Anderson with aggravated assault while armed. He said the charge could be upgraded to assault with intent to kill as the investigation continues.
He said police recovered the vehicle used to hit Washington in the 1200 block of West Virginia Avenue., N.E. and it was being processed by the department’s forensic science unit.
Among those attending Wednesday evening’s news conference were transgender advocate Ruby Corado, the founder and director of Casa Ruby, and Adriana Carter, Casa Ruby’s Director of Outreach and Health Programs. The two, who answered questions from reporters after the news conference, said Washington was a regular visitor at Casa Ruby, which provides services to the transgender community.
Carter told the Blade she has known Washington for nearly 12 years and that Washington has identified as a transgender woman for “a very long time.”
Corado said she is troubled that the incident took place along a section of K Street, N.E. where transgender women and trans youth are known to hang out.
“People find places where they feel comfortable, and K Street has been historically a place where young people go and see their friends,” she said. “It should not be a place where they are subjected to violence,” Corado told reporters.