Police who assaulted Black trans woman serves no time in jail.
In May 2019, a shop owner had a confrontation with Breonna “BB” Hill, a Black trans woman residing in Kansas, Missouri. Hill sought to resolve the dispute and contacted the Kansas Police. Soon after, officers Charles Prichard and Matthew Brummett arrived on scene.
Rather than conducting a thorough investigation into Hill’s complaint, Brummett and Prichard slammed Hill to the ground, handcuffed her and kneed on her neck. Brummett and Prichard can also be seen slamming Hill’s head onto the concrete and pulling her hands above her head.
Roderick Reed, the individual who recorded the incident, continued to record Brummett and Prichard while they assaulted Hill. However, this resulted in Kansas Police charging Reed with a “municipal violation” for not obeying an officer’s commands.
Kansas Police eventually charged both officers with a misdemeanor but this charge was upgraded to a felony third-degree assault after the video of their assault against Hill went viral.
Five months after the officer’s assault, reports surfaced that a man named Allan Robinson shot Hill. Police initially charged Robinson with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon. However, this count was reduced because prosecutors were of the opinion that Robinson shot Hill in self-defense.
Missouri is a state that does not prohibit the use of the Trans Panic defense. According to the American Bar Association, the Trans Panic legal defense legitimses and excuses violent and lethal behaviour against trans people. This defense has also been used on numerous occasions before a suspect reaches a jury, which shifts the burden to trans persons, who then must show they did not provoke the suspect’s violent reaction. While it is obvious to some, most do not see how this defense criminalises trans bodies in the United States.
In November 2022, a United States judge ruled that both officers did not have to serve time in jail.
Police Who Assaulted Black Trans Woman Serves No Time in Jail. Why Violence Against Trans Women Persists in the U.S.
When LGBTQ+ organizations fail to speak up for trans women, the LGBTQ+ community is fractured by distrust. In keeping with my thoughts in Is Trans Community Support Disappearing?, when the LGBTQ+ community are silent on the harms against trans women, they lose of critical source of moral and epistemic support within their own community—either through support withdrawal or death.
Hill’s death, in my opinion, is another ghastly case of what I call the Zaru Effect—when law enforcement officers close their eyes to harms perpetuated by private actors against trans women. It also involves law enforcement’s arrest of trans women for making complaints, and their failure to speak out against abuses that either causes the physical and sexual assault, or the incarceration and death of trans women.