Muhlaysia Booker, a 23-year-old transgender woman, was brutally beaten in a Dallas parking lot several weeks ago. On Saturday, she was fatally shot.
At a Sunday news conference, Maj. Vincent Weddington of the Dallas Police Department said officers were called to the scene of a shooting around 7 a.m. Saturday. Booker was discovered dead on arrival.
The previous assault
The assault last month, on April 12, was recorded on a cellphone. The video captured a man wearing white mercilessly punching a woman in a flamingo-pink wig who was trying to shield herself from the blows.
The broad-daylight attack, viewed by a crowd of bystanders, ended when the assailant, joined by other men, knocked the writhing woman unconscious. At least one woman can be heard yelling a homophobic slur toward the end of the video.
Then, onlookers lifted the limp body to safety. Booker was reportedly treated at a hospital for bone fractures and a possible concussion.
The video footage, posted by a Facebook user under the name Taj Mahal and TajTV, quickly went viral and led to the arrest of Edward Thomas two days later.
Thomas, 29, was charged with aggravated assault in the attack; gender identity is not covered under Texas’s hate crime statute.
Weddington said Sunday that there is no known connection between Booker’s shooting and the April assault allegedly perpetrated by Thomas, who has a criminal record, according to court documents. Thomas had been released from the Dallas County jail before Saturday, Weddington added. At this time, the department does not know where he is.
Violence against transgender women of color
The video also brought national attention to the plight of the LGBTQ black community, of which Booker was a known member, according to Kirk Myers, CEO of Abounding Prosperity, a Dallas-based service organization that Booker supported.
As a transgender woman who is black, Booker belonged to a group that is disproportionately likely to experience a violent attack, The Washington Post previously reported. According to the Human Rights Campaign, most of the 128 transgender people who were killed between 2013 and 2018 were women of color. Within the LGBTQ community, black transgender women are the most likely to face deadly violence, the HRC has found.
“Certainly within a month from the assault, I can’t help but wonder: Is there a correlation or relationship?” Myers said. “[We are] navigating the loss and what it represents” and are committed to holding officials responsible “for protecting transwomen and the entire black LGBTQ community.”