D.C. Police Officer Kenneth Furr will appear in court Friday to answer charges that he shot at five people inside a car, wounding two transgendered women and their male friend during an early morning altercation last week. Activists call it the latest evidence of homophobia and transgender phobia within the police department.
Court documents quote witnesses as claiming that Furr, who was off duty and in plainclothes at the time, stood on the hood of the victims' car and shot through the windshield while yelling, 'I'm going to kill all of you."
?"We don't think this was hate-related or bias-related, but it's still a real serious incident and very disturbing," says Police Chief Cathy Lanier.
Jason Terry, transgender activist, says over the past few months there have been complaints that District police officers have refused to file reports for gay victims, and did not contact the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit to help LGBT victims, which is against policy. Another police officer is being investigated for severely beating a transgendered woman.
"There's a huge reluctance from the senior leadership and the union to deal with the issue of bias policing particularly when it involves LGBT people," Terry says.
Lanier says that's what she hers from community leaders as well.
"I've had several meetings recently," she says. "I had another one yesterday, and so that's where our focus has been. We do a lot of training, and the policies are reinforced throughout the year."
But Terry says little or no progress has been made in the past few years.
"The Gay and Lesbian Unit has been recognized multiple times, and the level of service has gone down in training of 124 officers. So far in the past year has not amounted to a whole lot," says Terry.
Activist Jeri Hughes says the District has an 86 percent homicide clearance rate, however bias policing is affecting LGBT murderers and victims are handled and prosecuted.
?"With the transgendered community it was less than 20 percent clearance rate and the outcome with those cleared cases was even unfavorable," says Hughes. "An individual got ten years for murdering a woman and another got 17, and that's not justice."??
Activists are planning protests throughout the city to bring attention to their concerns.