Amidst protests in Minneapolis over the murder of George Floyd, another person has been killed by police. This week, a Black transgender man named Tony McDade was shot in Tallahassee, Florida by a police officer with the Tallahassee Police Department. McDade was killed on Wednesday 27th May outside Holton Street Apartments.
At 10.45am that day, officers were dispatched to the 2200 block of Saxon Street in response to a reported stabbing. The suspect, which was later identified as McDade, was seen by officers fleeing on foot. Later, someone matching McDade's description was seen on the 2500 block of Holton Street. According to Chief Lawrence Revell, McDade was identified as the same stabbing suspect and armed with a gun pointed at police, which led the officer to shoot him. Police shot McDade after he stabbed a man, whose name has not yet been released.
This has not been confirmed yet by footage or external evidence and police have not said whether the officer who killed McDade or another officer who was at the scene had body cameras on. However, police have stated that if there is footage, it will only be released when the investigation is finished. Witnesses have, however, confirmed that McDade was shot by a white police officer.
In a video posted to McDade’s Facebook profile hours before he was shot, he said, “You killed me, I’m gonna kill you,” then promising there would be a “standoff” with the law. “I’m living suicidal right now,” McDade said in his final post on social media. According to a local report, McDade vowed to seek out revenge after being attacked the day before. The footage of the attack remains unconfirmed.
Although police reports and news reports initially misgendered McDade as a woman, others who knew him more personally corrected reports to say McDade was a trans man. Since his death, residents from the apartment complex he lived in have created a memorial to mourn the death next to a palm tree in the area where McDade was shot and killed.
About 20 or 30 people gathered, lit candles and left behind flowers for McDade, saying prayers and leaving posters that say “Black lives matter” shortly after the death. Tallahassee’s Mayor John Dailey tweeted, “Today’s tragic loss of lives affects our entire community. This comes on the heels of disturbing events around our nation that we will not ignore. My heart goes out to the friends and families of those who lost their lives today and to the entire community that has been traumatised by today’s events,” adding that the police department is committed to a thorough investigation.
The Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition released a statement about McDade’s death on 28th May, saying, “It pains me to have learned about Tony McDade, who we understand was killed by a member of the Tallahassee Police Department yesterday morning. This tragic incident should be a reminder that hate crimes against Black LGBTQ/SGL people happen too frequently — often without the national public outcry that our cis and/or heteronormative brothers and sisters receive.”
According to the NBJC, in 2018 alone, there were over 1,500 hate crimes based on bias against someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity reported. And, the escalating problem saw more than an 18 percent increase in these hate crimes from 2016 to 2018, of which they said the FBI reports an 11 percent increase in anti-Black hate crimes during the same period.
The news of McDade's death also comes as the second killing of a Black person this week, with a massive public outcry and protest against racism from American police officers. He is also the 11th reported trans and/or gender non-confirming death by fatal shooting of 2020.
Police are currently in the process of reviewing videos on social media as part of their investigation. According to the police department, the officer who shot McDade has since been placed on paid administrative leave until a grand jury has reviewed the case.