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Trans man killed by Fairfax Police responding to mental health crisis

Parents say fatal shooting inside McLean home was unnecessary

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(Screen capture of Fairfax County Police officer’s body worn camera image via You Tube)

A Fairfax County Police officer on July 7 shot and killed a transgender man who family members say was having a mental health crisis inside the family home where he lived after the man, identified as Jasper Aaron Lynch, 26, lunged at three officers while wielding a wine bottle as a weapon and refused the officers commands to drop the bottle, according to a statement released by Fairfax Police.

Lynch’s parents released their own statement saying the use of deadly force was unnecessary and that the officers should have handled the incident “far differently.”

The police shooting incident and the release by Fairfax Police of body camera footage of the incident was widely reported in the news media.

But the news that Lynch was a transgender man did not surface until Aug. 24, when the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, released a statement disclosing that Lynch was trans and expressed support for his parents’ contention that the shooting was uncalled for.

“Aaron’s death marks the third fatal shooting by the police of a transgender person recorded by HRC since 2020,” the HRC statement says. “Transgender people, especially transgender people of color, are at increased risk of experiencing police brutality, even in the wake of other encountered violence,” the statement says.

In a detailed statement posted on their website, Fairfax Police say police involvement leading to the fatal shooting began shortly after 7 p.m. on July 7 when officers responded to the McLean home where Lynch lived with his parents and sister after receiving a call from a friend. The police statement says the friend said he was concerned for Lynch’s safety because he was throwing objects inside the home and “pacing.”

A police team arrived at the home a short time later that included an officer assigned to the police Crisis Intervention Team and a clinician from the Sharon Bulova Center for Community Health, according to the statement. It says arriving officers were told Lynch left the residence before they arrived and couldn’t be found. The police team left the scene but shortly after police received a second call at about 8:34 p.m. from a friend of Lynch’s saying Lynch had returned to the house and he was again acting erratically. A second police team was then dispatched to the house, the statement says.

“This time, three crisis intervention trained officers arrived at the home and spoke to a family member on the scene,” the statement continues. “The officers found Lynch inside holding a bottle and an object, believed to be a large decorative wooden tribal mask,” the statement says, adding, “The officers attempted to de-escalate the situation with verbal commands inside the foyer of the home.”

The statement continues, “Lynch threw the mask at an officer and began to swing the bottle in striking motion. Two officers attempted to utilize their Electronic Control Weapons,” referring to police tasers, it says. “Lynch ran toward officers while swinging the bottle. One officer discharged his firearm, striking Lynch four times. Officers immediately rendered aid until fire and rescue personnel arrived. Lynch was pronounced deceased at the scene,” it says.

The police statement concludes by saying under department policy, the officers involved have “all been placed on restricted duty pending the outcome of an administrative investigation by our Internal Affairs Bureau. An independent review will also be conducted by the Police Auditor.”

Lynch’s parents, Patrick and Kathy Lynch, declare in their own statement released to the media but that did not disclose that their son was transgender, that Lynch was “experiencing a severe mental health crisis on July 7.”

Their statement adds, “He was scared and asked for both 911 calls that were made that day. We believe that the three police officers who answered the second 911 call could have, and should have, handled this far differently.”

The statement continues, “To respond to Aaron’s mental health crisis by shooting him at all, let alone multiple times, cannot be justified. We recognize that, at times, police officers face grave and unknown dangers in the line of duty, but that was not the case for that call at our home regarding our son.”

A spokesperson for the Fairfax Police couldn’t immediately be reached on Friday to determine the status of the Internal Affairs investigation into the fatal police shooting of Lynch.    

A link to the police body worn camera video and audio recording of the shooting and an explanation by police of what prompted the shooting can be accessed here:

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Virginia

Va. House passes two anti-transgender bills

Measures likely to die in Democratic-controlled state Senate

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday approved two anti-transgender bills.

State Del. Karen Greenhalgh (R-Virginia Beach)’s House Bill 1387, which would ban trans athletes from school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity, passed by a 51-47 vote margin. State Del. Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun County)’s House Bill 2432, which would require school personnel to out trans students to their parents, passed by a 50-48 vote margin.

“We are dealing with forcibly outing kids regardless of the safety of their home,” said state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) on Monday when she spoke against HB 2432. “You have no idea of the harm you’re causing. Do better for them.”

Roem, who is the first openly trans woman seated in a state legislature in the U.S., also spoke against HB 1387 on the House floor.

Equality Virginia and the Human Rights Campaign are among the groups that condemned the bills’ passage.

“It can be hard for people to understand what it means to be a transgender or nonbinary young person if they’ve never met one. But trans and nonbinary young people are our friends, family members and neighbors, and like all young people, they deserve safe and inclusive learning environments where they can thrive and be supported as they are,” said Kasey Suffredini, vice president of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project, in a statement. “These bills would only contribute to further isolation and stigma at a time when trans young people are already struggling.”

The two bills will now go before the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate.

The Senate Education Committee last week killed six measures that would have banned transition-related health care for minors in Virginia and prevented trans athletes from school teams that correspond with their gender. It is likely HB 1387 and HB 2432 will meet a similar fate.

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Virginia

Va. Senate approves marriage amendment repeal resolution

Adam Ebbin’s proposal passed with bipartisan support

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Senate on Monday approved a resolution that seeks to repeal a state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The resolution that state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) introduced passed by a 25-14 vote margin. The openly gay Alexandria Democrat in a tweet noted Republicans supported it.

“My proposed constitutional amendment to repeal the defunct same-sex marriage ban has passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 25-14,” said Ebbin. “It is time our constitution reflects the law of the land and the values of our society.”

Virginia voters approved the Marshall-Newman Amendment in 2006.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Virginia since 2014.

The General Assembly in 2021 approved a resolution that seeks to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment. It must pass in two successive legislatures before it can go to the ballot.

The state Senate last month approved Ebbin’s Senate Bill 1096 that would affirm marriage equality in Virginia law.

Democrats currently control the chamber by a 22-18 margin. Republicans have a 51-47 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.

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Virginia

Va. House committee advances two anti-transgender bills

Democrats in state Senate will likely kill measures

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia House Education Committee on Friday approved two anti-transgender bills.

Committee members advanced state Del. Karen Greenhalgh (R-Virginia Beach)’s House Bill 1387, which would ban transgender athletes from school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity, and state Del. Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun County)’s House Bill 2432, which would require school personnel to out trans students to their parents.

A House subcommittee earlier this week approved the two bills.

Republicans control the House of Delegates by a 51-47 margin. Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the Virginia Senate.

The Senate Education Committee on Thursday killed six anti-trans bills. It is likely HB 1387 and HB 2432 will meet the same fate once they reach the state Senate.

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