US: Teen charged for hate crime shooting of trans woman

May 31, 2013
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A 16-year-old in Tampa, Florida has been charged with robbing and shooting a 22-year-old transgender woman in an attack she says was motivated by him finding out about her gender identity.

The victim, who did not wish to be identified apart from by the name Coko, was lured to the house of Tavares Spencer, whom she had known previously.

She said he then ordered her to get on the ground, and robbed her of her purse and a mobile phone.

Spencer then shot her twice in the hip, which Coko says “put my body in a shock”. She pretended to be dead until Spencer walked away, at which point she managed to escape as he fired shots after her.

Coko alleges that Spencer carried out the crime because he had wanted a relationship with her, but was angered by the discovery that she had been born anatomically male. She says the discovery prompted him to plan the crime.

“So basically, he was just doing this out of hate,” said Coko. “I believe he wanted me to be a real female so bad, that he was kind of upset.”

“I don’t put nothing past anybody,” she added. “It’s just a shock that it happened to me, because I don’t go around hurting people. I’m a sweet person. I’m not a perfect person.”

Tampa Police Sergeant Michael Stout said investigation had led him to conclude the crime was committed “pretty much solely” due to Coko being transgender.

He said Spencer was already in prison for an unrelated crime when he was charged.

“He wasn’t willing to make a lot of statements, but my detectives were taken by his lack of remorse in this incident. He showed very little to none,” said Segeant Stout.

Coko is reported to be recovering well following physical therapy.

Earlier this month the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs in New York, and the Washington DC-based National Black Justice Coalition, called for action following the recent murders of three black trans women in separate states: Kelly Young, Cemia Dove, and Ashley Sinclair.

Andrey Bridges, 36, was later charged with the murder of Cemia Dove.

More: Americas, Florida, Hate crime, police, robbery, shooting, Tampa, trans woman, transphobia, transphobic, US

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