Less than five months ago, I wrote about Duanna Johnson — a transgender woman who was beaten by Memphis police while handcuffed and in custody. She was sprayed with mace, hit with a closed fist by an officer who wore handcuffs around his knuckles, ignored by medical staff, and called abhorrent transphobic names. Her attack was caught on tape, and Duanna dared to speak out against the violence and injustice that was committed against her. And two officers were rightfully fired, but wrongfully apparently not prosecuted.
And I don’t even know what to say.
I’m not going to lay accusations. I don’t know what happened to Duanna, other than that she was murdered, and that her death is a tragedy. I do know that while Duanna was already at an appallingly high risk of murder due to her being a woman, transgender, a woman of color, and possibly a sex worker (this much has been unconfirmed), the numbers aren’t that high, and the fact that she was murdered less than five months after this incident came to light therefore seems inherently suspicious to me. I know that due to the factors above, who Duanna was and the bigotry that people direct towards her identity, her murder is likely to not be properly investigated let alone tried with her murderer(s) brought to justice.
And I also know that if the Memphis police have nothing to hide, they better be putting every resource they have into investigating her murder and finding her killer. Not only because a woman was killed, her body left in the street, and as a human being she deserves no less, but because it’s their own reputation on the line. (Honestly, it seems appalling to me that there is no one else to investigate other than the Memphis Police Department.) And while I don’t know who is responsible, I know that the two cops who lost their jobs due to their involvement in Duanna’s beating, as well as those in the force who were close with those officers and may have been outraged at their dismissal, should be at the top of the suspect list.
I am so, so sorry to Duanna and her family. I can only hope against hope that at the very least, for what little good it does now that she is dead, her murderer(s) will be brought to justice.