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  • Writer's pictureDarian

Black Trans Man Murdered By Tallahassee Police, Conflicting Reports On If He Was Armed

Updated: May 29, 2020

An officer involved shooting on Wednesday morning at The Leon Arms Apartments in Tallahassee, Florida, left one man dead from multiple gunshot wounds. Tony McDade, who friends say identified as a Black transgender man, and according to Tallahassee Police, a suspect in a stabbing homicide that took place less than 20 minutes before he was gunned down—died around 11 a.m. on the 2500 block of Holton Street.

Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell provided additional details on the shooting during a press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

“At 10:59 a.m., the suspect was located here at 2500 Holton Street,” Revell explained. “And our officer calls out ‘shots fired’ and said over the radio that the suspect had pointed the gun at them, at the officer.”

According to NPR affiliate WSFU, Revell says he doesn’t know if body camera footage was taken. If it was, he says, it won’t be made public until after a grand jury hearing. The police chief also told reporters he didn’t know how many shots were fired.

Revell's account of what took place during the moments leading up to the shooting and whether or not McDade was armed is in dispute by at least two people, one of which was an eyewitness to the fatal shooting.

Clifford Butler, a resident of Leon Arms Apartments spoke with WSFU reporter Ryan Dailey on camera, and given his statement, McDade never had a chance of survival.

“I walked down this way, as soon as I get around this curve, I just hear shots,” Butler told WFSU. “I see the girl right behind the tree, but I see for him (the officer) just jump out the car, swing the door open and just start shooting.”

Butler says he never heard the officer who fired shots give any warning beforehand.

“I never heard ‘Get down, freeze, I’m an officer’ – nothing. I just heard gun shots,” Butler said, adding there was another officer with the officer who fired shots. He says police attempted CPR on the woman.

In an ironic twist, The Tallahassee Police Department is not releasing the name of the officer involved in the shooting, citing Marsy's Law as the reason, and the officer—now as a victim.

McDade is repeatedly misgendered in early reports detailing the officer involved shooting. He also becomes the latest Black male victim of police involved murder following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, whose death has spurred national outrage, days of protests and social unrest.

At this writing, a petition has been started to bring attention to McDade's death, which has largely been ignored by Black Lives Matter and major media outlets. So far, over 25,000 people have signed.

Trans activist and friend to Living Out Loud 2.0, Hope Giselle, has been using her platform to bring attention to the countless Black trans women and queer Black people who have lost their lives due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. All of whom fail to garner the same amount of outrage and demands for justice that we've seen in cases involving cisgender heterosexual Black men.

According to WFSU, McDade's shooting becomes the third officer involved shooting for the Tallahassee Police Department since Chief Revell took the helm in December 2019.

Update (7:00 p.m.): A statement has been released on McDade's death by the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). You can read an excerpt from the statement below.

David Johns, Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition:

The accepted practices of hate crimes against Black LGBTQ and same gender loving (SGL) people and state-sanctioned murders of Black people must come to an abrupt and complete end.  And more must be done to call attention to the fact that hate crimes against Black LGBTQ/SGL people are not covered by the media.  
“It pains me to have learned about Tony McDade, who we understand was killed by a member of the Tallahassee Police Department yesterday morning. Tony, a Black trans man, is our brother. Prior to being shot and fatally wounded by a police officer, Tony posted a video to his Facebook page recounting a horrific beating he received from five men because he is a Black trans man. This tragic incident should be a reminder that hate crimes against Black LGBTQ/SGL people happen too frequently—often without the national public outcry that our cis and/or heteronormative brothers and sisters receive.
In 2018 alone, over 1,500 hate crimes based on bias against someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity were reported. And the violence is escalating. There was more than an 18 percent increase in these hate crimes from 2016 to 2018, and the FBI reports an 11 percent increase in anti-Black hate crimes during the same period. 
“We should all be clear about the fact that hate crimes against people of every racial and ethnic category increased across the board after the 2016 election. Trump has escalated the violence with racist rhetoric and destructive policies designed to divide and keep some of us locked out of access to opportunity. The clearest consequences of these deleterious actions are evident in these examples of vitriol, violence and death.
“We don’t know a lot of the details around Tony’s death, or how police became involved. We do know that Tony should not have been killed. We must work together to raise awareness about the unique challenges that Black LGBTQ/SGL people face. It is important to highlight the too often ignored violence that members of our community face in addition to the discrimination we may experience because we are Black. 
“We must also work to ensure that police officers understand they do not have a license to kill Black people, period. 

Read the full statement here.

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