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National
Slain transgender Kansas City woman in is 2nd in city, 20st across U.S. in 2019
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Slain transgender Kansas City woman in is 2nd in city, 20st across U.S. in 2019

Police: Kansas City man arrested for murder of transgender woman

Slain transgender Kansas City woman in is 2nd in city, 20st across U.S. in 2019

A Kansas City man has been arrested in the killing Monday of a transgender woman, the second to die in the city so far this year and at least the 20th across the nation, authorities said.

The Associated Press reported that Brianna “BB” Hill, 30, also of Kansas City, was shot around 11:30 a.m. Monday. Hill, who went by Breonna Be’Be Hill on Facebook, was dead when officers arrived at the scene.

>> Read more trending news

Kansas City police Capt. Tim Hernandez told the AP that the alleged shooter, whose name has not been released, remained at the scene and was taken into custody. As of Wednesday, no charges had been filed, the news service said.

Hernandez said he could not discuss the motive for the shooting but said it was not related to Hill’s status as a transgender woman, the AP reported.

Hill is the second transgender woman killed so far this year in Kansas City, records show. According to the Human Rights Campaign, she is the 21st transgender woman or gender nonconforming person to die by violence across the country in 2019.

The Advocate puts the nationwide number of slain transgender women at 20, however, noting some confusion about the gender identity of one victim, Jamagio Jamar Berryman.

“Transgender Americans are facing an epidemic of violence,” the Advocate reported, citing 24 known killings of transgender Americans in 2018. The magazine said the number could be higher “as, undoubtedly, some victims were misgendered by police or media, or their deaths not reported at all.”

“The majority of victims in any year tracked by The Advocate have been women of color,” the magazine stated.

Click here to see a report by the Advocate on all the transgender people killed so far in 2019.

Hill, who was black, was killed the day before jury selection was set to begin in Dallas for Edward Dominic Thomas, 29, who is accused of beating another black, transgender woman, Muhlaysia Booker, in April following a fender bender outside an apartment complex in the Oak Cliff section of the city.

Booker, whose beating was caught on video, spoke publicly at a rally the week after the assault to call for justice in her case, the AP reported.

The 23-year-old was found shot to death May 18 on a Dallas street. Kendrell Lavar Lyles, 33, is charged with murder in the killing and is a suspect in the homicides of two additional women.

Dallas Morning News via AP
Muhlaysia Booker is comforted April 20, 2019, as she speaks during a rally in Dallas. Booker, a 22-year-old transgender woman seen on video being beaten April 12 in front of a crowd, was found shot to death Saturday, May 18 on a Dallas street.
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Slain transgender Kansas City woman in is 2nd in city, 20st across U.S. in 2019

Photo Credit: Dallas Morning News via AP
Muhlaysia Booker is comforted April 20, 2019, as she speaks during a rally in Dallas. Booker, a 22-year-old transgender woman seen on video being beaten April 12 in front of a crowd, was found shot to death Saturday, May 18 on a Dallas street.

>> Related story: Suspect arrested in death of transgender Dallas woman and 2 others, police say

The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that Thomas’ defense is arguing that Booker, who his attorneys call by her birth name and describe with male pronouns, brought the fight upon herself.

Transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox spoke to Buzzfeed earlier this year about the rash of violence against the transgender community.

“Your attraction to me as a trans woman is not a reason to kill me,” Cox said in an interview on BuzzFeed News’ Twitter morning show, “AM to DM.” “There’s this whole sort of myth that trans women are out there tricking people, that they deserve to be murdered, and that’s not the case.”

Berryman, who also went by Ja’leyah-Jamar Berryman, was killed last month just across the Missouri state line in Kansas City, Kansas.

Though area activists initially identified Berryman as a transgender woman, Berryman’s family released a video on social media clarifying that he identified as a gender nonconforming man.

Berryman was found shot in the street around 2:30 p.m. Sept. 13 near 60th Street and Leavenworth Road, according to the Kansas City (Kansas) Police Department. Berryman died a short time later at an area hospital.

Two days later, investigators released images of a person of interest and a white 2006 Pontiac G6 connected to the case. KMBC reported that the car was found abandoned in Kansas City, Missouri, three days after Berryman was slain.

The person of interest, believed to be an ex-boyfriend of Berryman’s, has not been identified by police, the Advocate said. No arrests have been reported in Berryman’s death.

Berryman’s cousin posted about his death on Facebook.

“Ja’leyah-Jamar didn’t ask for this life,” Adriana Sanders wrote, according to the magazine. “No one can control who they love. God made us to live and love and to grow. It’s not our fault as a transgender woman or a homosexual man to want to live a normal life, wanting to be in love have a family, build your own legacy.

“Because a man could not accept who he was as himself and individual, he felt the need to take my cousin’s life.”

Berryman’s obituary said he “loved the artistry of designing hair, playing his game, playing with his nieces and nephews, nagging his siblings and spending quality time with his daughter, Ja’mya (Berryman).”

Ja’mya was 5 years old when she lost her parent, KSHB in Kansas City reported.

“She keeps, like (saying), ‘I want my daddy, where my daddy at?’ And it’s just, like, how do you answer that question to a 5-year-old?" Ronnie Gates, a friend and former longtime boyfriend of Berryman’s, told the news station.

Berryman’s mother, along with other family members and friends, mourned Berryman by releasing red and black balloons in his honor three days after his killing. They gathered at the intersection where he was found.

His young daughter was pictured sitting quietly on the sidewalk, wearing a backpack and gazing at the balloons near the curb.

“That’s Jamar’s baby. She is now without a father,” a family member captioned the photo.

“I’ll never be the same,” Berryman’s mother, Jennifer Gibson, told KSHB. “I’ll never be the same.”

The Human Rights Campaign, which touts itself as the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, issued a statement following Berryman’s slaying.

“This epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets trans people of color -- particularly black trans women -- must cease,” read a post on the organization’s Twitter feed.

Likewise, HRC officials spoke out this week about Hill’s killing.

“Hill, like all of us, had hopes, dreams, aspirations and plans for the future,” HRC spokesperson Elliott Kozuch told Newsweek. “She had family and friends who are mourning this senseless loss, a loss that is part of a larger epidemic of violence against the transgender community in this country, spurred by a toxic mix of transphobia, racism, misogyny and unchecked gun violence.”

Kozuch said while the transgender community has protections in employment, housing and public accommodations in Kansas City, there are no state nondiscrimination protections for the marginalized community.

Transgender people are also not among the groups covered by Missouri’s hate crimes legislation. According to HRC data, all but five states across the country have laws addressing hate crimes, but the laws vary greatly in who they protect.

Fifteen states do not address sexual orientation or gender identity in their hate crime laws, the HRC shows.

See the Human Rights Campaign's map of hate crime laws in the U.S. below.

Members of the LGBTQ community mourned Hill’s death on social media.

“Rest in power, beloved,” one woman wrote on Facebook, adding a broken heart emoji. “Brianna Hill. #SayHerName.”

Transgender actress, singer, teacher and activist Alexandra Billings also spoke out about Hill and every other transgender woman who has been killed or faces violence for who they are.

“My sisters, I see you,” Billings wrote on Facebook. “I am with you because I am one of you, and we will survive this. Our government will not continue to ignore us, and our allies will speak up. We will revolt and we will rise. We are made of sturdy stuff. We have lived through the centuries and it will take more than a few violent men to eradicate us from the human experience.

“We are part of this world and we deserve to be here. We will not let this stand.”

Besides the death of Berryman, Hill’s slaying in Kansas City also comes on the heels of the June 25 killing of Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, who was found dead on the porch of an abandoned home on Spruce Avenue, court records show. She died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Neighbors, who didn’t identify themselves out of fear of retaliation, told KCTV Lindsey had been badly beaten before they heard the gunshots that killed her.

According to court records, investigators recovered five shell casings from around Lindsey’s body and tested the casings for DNA evidence. A profile was obtained and entered into CODIS, the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, which matched the genetic material to Marcus S. Lewis.

Investigators learned that Lewis was in a relationship with the owner of a black Chevy Impala. The car was spotted by license plate readers driving in the area of the shooting around the time that the Kansas City Police Department received a report of shots fired about four blocks from where Lindsey’s body was found.

Read the probable cause statement in the Brooklyn Lindsey slaying below.

Charging Document in Brooklyn Lindsey Homicide by National Content Desk on Scribd

Lewis, 41, was arrested in July and indicted last month on charges of second-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful possession of a firearm, court records show.

Court records, which identify Lindsey as male and by her given name instead of her chosen one, show that Lewis told detectives he shot Lindsey after she propositioned him, “attempting to solicit a date,” and would not leave him alone after he declined her advances.

He said he sold the gun, which he had bought earlier in the day, to an unknown person after the homicide.

“l believe that Marcus Lewis poses a danger to the community or to any other persons because he is a habitual unregistered sex offender,” Detective Ryan Taylor wrote in a probable cause statement. “He is under investigation for aggravated domestic violence involving a firearm and an armed business robbery involving a firearm.”

Court records indicate Lewis has also been indicted in that case. He remained in the Jackson County Jail Friday, awaiting trial.

The unlawful firearm possession charge stems from Lewis’ April 1998 conviction of first-degree statutory rape, a felony in Missouri. As a convicted felon, he is not permitted to have a firearm.

Lindsey was described by friends as an activist who worked with organizations like the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project. The organization spoke out last month after Berryman’s death.

“As we hold space to remember and uplift Ja’Leyah, we must also recognize the factors at play that contribute to the dramatically increased risk of violence that trans women of color, especially black trans women, face every day,” a post on the group’s Facebook page read. “Restrictions on basic needs and services like housing, employment, safe streets, healthcare and protection under the law are just some barriers that put our sisters in harm’s way daily.

“The discriminatory and violent systems that perpetuate violence against transgender women of color are a direct result of bias from within and outside our own communities. Ja’leyah’s light shone to a select few, but we will let her light shine on all of us today.”

Kris Wade, with the Justice Project Kansas City, told CNN she knew Lindsey well and had helped her for more than a decade. She described Lindsey as a “sweetheart,” and an intelligent woman who did not come from the streets, but sometimes ended up there.

“She felt that she had not lost her humanity out there,” Wade told CNN.

Wade said Lindsey, who had been brutally beaten and hospitalized just weeks before her death, needed to get off the street, but Justice Project was unable to find her a bed.

“We didn’t have any money to put her up,” Wade said.

Lindsey died at the same intersection where a Hispanic transgender woman, Tamara Dominguez, 36, was run over and killed Aug. 15, 2015. The driver of the truck, Luis Sanchez, ran over Dominguez repeatedly, according to witnesses.

Members of the LGBTQ community condemned the “atrocious” act in the days after Dominguez’s death.

“There’s this horrible dark underbelly of hatred that goes on and on and on and on and it must stop,” Caroline Gibbs, director of the Transgender Institute of Kansas City, told KCTV at the time.

Dominguez’s brother, Alberto Dominguez, spoke to the news station through a friend, Juan Rendon, who translated his Spanish to English.

“He just want to say to the person that did that to her, that he (Alberto) would forgive them for what he did to her,” Rendon translated as Dominguez started to cry, the news station reported. “We are not here to judge nobody, and he (Alberto) hopes that person really feels bad for what he did.”

Sanchez, who was initially charged with murder, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in December 2018 and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Now 31, he is serving his sentence at the Jefferson City Correctional Center, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Tamara Dominguez was loved, her brother told KCTV.

“He doesn’t know she has family. She had her mom. She had her nephews, brothers and sisters. That person didn’t think about what he did,” Rendon translated.

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There's a reason police aren't saying much,' Taylor told the network. 'There's a lot more to it.' When a reporter asked if the girl was a victim of some kind, Taylor said he 'wouldn't put it to that extent.' He said Chernoff 'wasn't totally innocent, either,' CNN reported. Coulter described Chernoff as a 'guy who went to work every day, well liked by his neighbors and co-workers.' She said Chernoff, who was a building maintenance supervisor at the Philadelphia International Airport, did not appear to have a criminal record. ‘A fierce and tireless advocate' Animal welfare activists in Philadelphia were stunned by Chernoff's death. 'If you help animals in Philadelphia, you've met Al,' Blake Martin of Philadelphia's Animal Care and Control Team told ABC6. 'He is a wild veteran who loves motorcycles and will talk your ear off about his motorcycles and cats.' Chernoff, who was known for building shelters for feral strays in the city, also founded a one-man rescue group, Alley Cat Animal Rescue. 'His generosity was incredible,' Martin said. 'You don't see a lot of that anymore, especially towards the animal community. 'It's been a tough day.' The Facebook page of 'The Cat Rescuers,' a documentary about cat rescue in New York City, described Chernoff as 'one of many amazing rescuers' filmmakers met during filming. The crew met Chernoff during a workshop on 'trap-neuter-return,' a method of managing the stray and feral cat population that Chernoff was known to use. 'He wasn't one of the main four we were following, but we were so taken by his warmth and affability when we encountered him at a (trap-neuter-return) workshop that we just knew we had to put him in our film,' the post read. A brief clip from the documentary shows Chernoff showing off his many cat tattoos. He tells the camera that he had a cat as a child. 'I just was always into cats,' Chernoff says. 'Cats and Harleys and tattoos. That's what I'm into.' Chernoff's Facebook page is filled with photos of his cats, 11 of them, along with photos of his building projects. Motorcycles and military memorabilia are also heavily featured on his page. Last month, he posted a wedding photo of his parents, along with his Army basic training photo, writing that he had just stumbled upon the pictures. Chernoff was not married and had no immediate family left, according to Philadelphia's Jewish Exponent. 'We tried the best we could to keep him family-oriented because he had no parents, he had no siblings and he had no children,' Chernoff's cousin, Beverly Levin, told the Exponent. 'He was with us for Rosh Hashanah just last month. We kept him as close as we could because he was alone in the world.' Since his death, friends in the animal rescue community and beyond have mourned Chernoff on social media. They have also contributed more than $18,000 to a GoFundMe page set up by Levin's son, David Levin, to pay for Chernoff's funeral and provide for more cats to be rescued. 'Al's kids were his cats,' David Levin wrote on the fundraising page. A private donor, along with Chernoff's veteran benefits, have taken care of the cost of his funeral and memorial service, which is scheduled for Nov. 24 in Southampton. All the funds raised by the GoFundMe campaign will be distributed to multiple animal rescues, David Levin wrote in an update. Chernoff's 11 cats, along with three turtles and two frogs, were rescued from his home following his death. Friend and fellow rescuer Gwen Cooper wrote that she was “shocked and saddened beyond the telling of it” to learn of Chernoff’s death. 'Al was a fierce and tireless advocate for rescue cats -- one of the staunchest protectors of cats I've ever known -- and I was honored and privileged to count him among my personal friends in rescue for many years,' Cooper wrote. 'My heart goes out to the people and felines who knew and loved him best.' She said she was certain the 'veritable army of cats' he saved over the years were there to greet him on the 'rainbow bridge' when he died. Chernoff was also active in the Jewish war veterans' community, the Exponent reported. 'He went out of his way many a time for people who suffered what used to be called shell shock and what is now called PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),' M.B. Kanis, commander of the Jewish War Veterans Drizin-Weiss Post 215, told the publication. 'He recognized PTSD and knew that people with service animals could become more calm and relaxed and more focused. In the Philadelphia area, I know of at least three service veterans who he helped hands-on (with service animals).' Emily Petry, who described Chernoff as the 'best cat daddy ever,' said he was one of the kindest people she'd ever known. 'Nobody who ever knew you would have ever done you any harm,' Petry wrote. Ashley Foresta, a fellow animal rescuer in Philadelphia, told the Daily Mail she could not imagine why the 14-year-old suspect was in Chernoff's house. Foresta speculated that perhaps Chernoff had hired the girl to clean his home, but Branconi told the Mail he had never seen the girl at the duplex before. 'I just can't imagine for one minute that Al was the type of person who would have had an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old girl -- but at the same time I can't think of anyone ever having a reason to kill him,' Foresta said. 'To be honest, maybe part of me doesn't want to know the whole truth,' she said. Chernoff's family and friends weren't the only ones puzzled by his slaying. Coulter said last week that detectives were still piecing together what happened and why. 'Who it is, is identified, but the why and the rationale behind it is what the investigators are now working on,' Coulter told reporters. 'These things take time to get right. 'I know that everybody would like to have everything answered, and so would we, but we want to make sure that we do it in a way that the judicial process plays out fairly and everybody involved gets justice.
  • Police said a 9-year-old boy brought a BB gun to an elementary school in California on Thursday and shot three of his classmates, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news  The victims were not seriously injured and required no medical attention, Pasadena police spokesman Lt. Bill Grisafe told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Authorities responded around 8:45 a.m. to a report of the shooting at Washington Elementary STEM Magnet School, KNBC-TV reported. Pasadena police Lt. Kim Smith told KTLA the boy was never arrested but the case was sent to the district attorney's office for consideration. In a statement obtained by KTLA, officials with the Pasadena Unified School District said they were cooperating with police and 'implementing an enhanced awareness of safety by both students and staff.' The incident happened Thursday, shortly before authorities responded to a deadly shooting about 40 miles to the northwest at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita.
  • A jury found Roger Stone guilty Friday of obstruction, giving false statements to Congress and tampering with witnesses in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. >> Read more trending news  The verdict came on the second day of jury deliberations. Stone had denied any wrongdoing and framed the charges as politically motivated. Update 12:20 p.m. EST Nov. 15: Jurors found Stone guilty Friday of all seven counts against him, including one charge of obstruction, one charge of witness tampering and five charges of making false statements connected to his pursuit stolen emails damaging to Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman set a February 6 sentencing date for Stone, Fox News reported. Until then, Berman allowed Stone to be released on his own recognizance. Stone, who did not take the stand during his trial, is the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The president slammed the jury's verdict Friday, questioning in a tweet whether Stone fell victim to 'a double standard like never seen before in the history of our Country.' Original report: Jury deliberations in the case against Roger Stone, a political consultant and confidant of President Donald Trump, extended into a second day Friday after jurors failed to reach a verdict on whether he lied to Congress about his attempts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election. Jurors asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson two questions Thursday during their six hours of deliberations, Reuters reported. The questions were about what was considered testimony in the case and a request for a clarification of the charges, according to the Courthouse News Service. Authorities arrested Stone in January on charges brought by then-special counsel Robert Mueller, who headed the Justice Department's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Stone was charged with obstruction, giving false statements and witness tampering. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kravis said Stone lied to protect the Trump campaign from embarrassment and scrutiny in its quest for emails hacked by Russian officials and disseminated by WikiLeaks, according to The Washington Post. Attorneys for Stone claimed he never intentionally deceived Congress and that he was simply wrong in his testimony after committee members unexpectedly peppered him with WikiLeaks-related questions. 'There was nothing illegal about the campaign being interested in information that WikiLeaks was going to be putting out,' defense attorney Bruce S. Rogow said, according to the Post. 'This is what happens in a campaign. … It happens in every campaign.' In testimony, several witnesses highlighted how Trump campaign associates were eager to gather information about the more than 19,000 emails the U.S. says were hacked by Russia and then provided to WikiLeaks. Former campaign CEO Steve Bannon reluctantly testified last week and told jurors Trump's campaign saw Stone as an 'access point' to WikiLeaks. He said Stone boasted about his ties to the anti-secrecy group and its founder, Julian Assange. Bannon said campaign officials tried to use Stone to get advanced word about hacked emails damaging to Trump's rival in the 2016 presidential election, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Rick Gates, who served as a campaign aide for Trump, told jurors Stone asked him in June 2016 for the contact information of Trump's son-in-law and then-senior campaign adviser, Jared Kushner. Stone wanted to 'debrief' him on developments about the hacked emails, Gates said. Stone has proclaimed his innocence and accused Mueller's team of targeting him because of his politics. He could face up to 20 years in prison if he's convicted. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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