(DALLAS) — A transgender woman seen brutally attacked in a widely circulated video last month was shot to death in Dallas over the weekend.
Muhlaysia Booker, 23, was found “lying face down” on a Dallas road early Saturday morning, police said, adding to a fast-growing number of homicides involving people who identify as transgender.
Officers with the Dallas Police Department said the slaying was the result of “homicidal violence,” but it stopped short of calling it a hate crime.
“We recognize that hate crimes, if you will, are a serious topic,” Assistant Dallas Police Chief Avery Moore said at a press conference Sunday. “We at the Dallas Police Department take them serious.”
A video of Booker drew national attention last month when it circulated online, showing a brutal beating by several men in the parking lot of an apartment complex as a crowd cheered.
She told police that the incident occurred after a minor traffic accident and that the men yelled homophobic and transphobic slurs at her.
Video of the encounter showed a man in a white, long-sleeved T-shirt and white shorts as he ran up to her and threw her down. He then pinned her to the ground and started raining punches on the woman’s head. Several other men joined in the assault, stomping and kicking her as she struggled, until a group of women intervened.
The incident was flagged as a possible hate crime, and police arrested 29-year-old Edward Thomas two days later on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He has since been released on bond.
Booker, who sustained a concussion and a fractured wrist in the gruesome beating, said she was lucky to have survived.
“This has been a rough week for myself, the transgender community and also the city of Dallas,” Booker said an April press conference. “This time, I can stand before you … whereas in other scenarios, we are at a memorial.”
Investigators said there was not enough information to say if her death may have been connected to the April attack. The police department did not offer any information about a potential suspect in the slaying.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who said the video made him “extremely angry,” offered his condolences to Booker’s family and loved ones in the wake of her death.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of Muhlaysia Booker,” he said in a tweet on Sunday. “I call on anyone with information on this homicide to please contact the Dallas Police Department.”
At least 26 transgender people were killed in the U.S. in 2018, with black transgender women targeted the most, according to a statement from the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group.
At least three transgender people have been violently killed so far in 2019, the HRC said.
“As HRC continues to work toward justice and equality for transgender people,” the organization said, “we mourn those we have lost.”
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