Dallas Police Looking To See If There's A Connection In 3 Transgender Assault, Murder Cases

May 21, 2019 - 4:51 pm

DALLAS (KRLD/AP) - Dallas police want to know if someone is targeting transgender women in the city. 

Two murders and one aggravated assault involving transgender women have occurred since October of 2018. The latest involved Muhlaysia Booker, whose body was found face down in a Dallas street early Saturday morning.

Booker died from "homicidal violence," Major Vincent Weddington with Dallas police says. He did not elaborate on her death.

Booker's murder came one month after she was attacked at a Dallas apartment complex. The whole thing was caught on video and went viral. Weddington says this is the third case since late last year with some similarities.

The first incident occurred in October of 2018 when 29-year-old Brittany White was shot and killed in her vehicle in the 7100 block of Gayglen Drive. 

The second incident involved a transgender female who was stabbed multiple times and left for dead in April. The stabbing victim survived and described her attacker as a large black man driving a silver truck. Police don't know if the attacks are connected but are asking for the public to help them close the cases. 

"Right now the police department is actively looking to see if these assaults and murders have any connection. We haven't been able to affirm a link," Weddington says.

Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential nomination mourned Booker's death Monday. Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke tweeted that "trans women of color across America deserve better" and said justice must be served. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg also called for action.

State Rep. Jessica Gonzalez, a Democrat who is part of the House LGBTQ Caucus, also extended sympathies to Booker's family.

Weddington said there's no evidence indicating a link between the shooting and the April 12 beating Booker suffered after she was involved in a minor traffic accident. A police affidavit released at the time said Booker accidentally backed into a vehicle. The driver of that vehicle then pulled a gun and refused to let her leave unless she paid for the damage.

As a crowd gathered, someone offered $200 to a man to beat the woman, who suffered a concussion, fractured wrist and other injuries, police said. Other men also struck Booker, with one stomping on her head. Edward Thomas, 29, was arrested and jailed on a charge of aggravated assault.

Video showed Booker being beaten as the crowd hollered and watched. Video of the attack was shared on social media.

Booker attended a rally the following week where she said she was grateful to have survived.

"This time I can stand before you, where in other scenarios, we're at a memorial," The Dallas Morning News reported her as saying.

Weddington said the investigation into the April attack continues.

"We're still attempting to identify other people that were seen assaulting Muhlaysia in the video," he said.

In November, the FBI reported that 7,175 hate crimes were committed in the United States in 2017, the most recent year for which the agency had compiled data. Of those, 1,130 were based on sexual orientation bias and 119 on gender identity bias. Of crimes motivated by gender identity bias, 106 targeted transgender people, a 1% increase from 2016.