D.C. police on Wednesday said they would not immediately open an investigation into a report by an eyewitness that a “mob” of about 20 young men attacked and repeatedly punched a transgender woman of color while shouting anti-trans insults about 10:15 p.m. Saturday, June 20, on the 1200 block of U Street, N.W.
The witness, nearby resident Andrea Earls, posted on Facebook and later told the Washington Blade she ran into the crowd attacking the trans woman and shouted for the assailants to stop while she hailed a taxi cab that enabled her to help the trans woman escape from the attackers by entering the cab.
Earls said she regrets not calling the 911 police emergency number at the time of the incident and she was unable to obtain the name or contact information of the victim.
Police have said no one contacted them about the incident until the Blade inquired about the incident with the police press office and asked whether MPD would attempt to determine if nearby surveillance cameras captured the attack on video.
“If MPD is able to confirm with the victim that a crime occurred and they would like police assistance, then we can build the investigation, which includes obtaining video surveillance,” said police spokesperson Alaina Gertz in an email to the Blade. “At this time, we are unable to identify a victim in this case to open an investigation,” Gertz said.
Earls told the Blade she was walking home from a 7-Eleven store at 12th and U Streets, N.W. about 10:15 p.m. on June 20 when she saw the attack on the trans woman unfolding on the sidewalk in front of Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant at 1213 U St., N.W. The Ben’s website says it closes at 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
“I jumped in and got between her and the men,” Earls said in a Facebook post. She said she shouted and motioned for a cab to stop on U Street and she was eventually able to help the victim enter the cab, which drove off to an unknown destination.
In a follow-up Facebook post, Earls expressed disappointment over the police response.
“The police from the LGBT [Liaison Unit] interviewed me,” she wrote. “I repeated what I witnessed and reiterated my account,” she wrote, adding that the officers thanked her for being a good citizen and “walked away.”