As police investigate the shooting and killing of a 23-year-old transgendered woman, no significant leads have been made in the case, officials said.

On July 20, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was called around 4:30 a.m. to the 6100 block of Dix Street, N.E. where the body of Myles McLean, who suffered a gunshot wound, was found. The victim, known as Lashai to friends, was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“Sadly, no additional information has come forward, but MPD is still working the case,” said Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Affairs.

Although the initial police report did not say that McLean was transgendered, the mayor issued a statement the day the victim was found calling the killing a “possible hate crime.”

“If the investigation concludes that this shooting was the result of bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity, MPD and my administration will work with this community to see that there is an appropriate response to this kind of violence, which cannot be tolerated,” Mayor Vincent Gray (D) stated in a press release.

Due to a disclosure policy that prohibits the police from releasing a person’s sexual orientation unless it’s related to the crime, MPD was unable to put McLean’s gender in the press release. But the D.C. Trans Coalition (DCTC) said including the information in the police press release was necessary. “We must stress once again the absolute necessity for the police and media to respect Lashai’s gender identity,” the group said in a statement. “The least we can do to honor her memory is to respect her chosen, lived identity.”

The grassroots organization demanded that MPD make McLean’s case a “top priority” as the police department recently came under scrutiny for their failure to report bias-related incidents, along with their rocky relationship with the GLBT community. “Lashai’s murder is yet another visceral reminder that transgender women are consistently placed in dangerous situations,” the group stated.

Earline Budd, an executive of the local group Transgender Health Empowerment, said she does not believe MPD will follow through with the case because “we don’t have the relationship anymore.”

“The transgendered are not comfortable talking with the police,” she said. “There’s been a break. Since the has been dismantled, it has caused a break between communications.”

On July 6 during a three-hour hearing, community leaders expressed their concern about the GLLU, which comprises six trained members from the D.C. police force. GLBT leaders called the unit unorganized.

But Lanier defended the police department and the special unit at the hearing and said, “I feel bad for the GLLU members. When they hear these comments … it’s a slap in the face for them.”

A.J. Singletary, president of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, also expressed his concern with the department and the community’s relationship. He said some officers dismiss concerns from the GLBT community and “laugh it off” when a member reaches out for help.

“There’s clearly some disconnect,” Singletary said.

As McLean’s case is currently under investigation, Budd said there is nothing left to do but wait.

“It remains to be seen. I just remain reserved,” Budd said. “There are things we have found out from the community and not the liaison yet.

“I’m kind of getting discouraged as to how things are being handled.”

McLean’s funeral was held July 27 at Purity Baptist Church.

 

Erica Butler

AFRO Staff Writer