Eyewitness reports completely contradict what the police is saying about the death of Black trans man Tony McDade
The official police report into the fatal shooting of Back trans man Tony McDade has been thrown into doubt as new eyewitnesses accounts emerge.
Tony McDade was shot and killed by an unnamed white police officer in Tallahassee, north Florida, on May 27. He died shortly afterwards in hospital, his death marking Florida’s third fatal police shooting in the last two months.
Local news, which along with the Florida Police Department initially misgendered McDade, reported that he was a suspect in a fatal stabbing.
Speaking at a news briefing last week, Tallahassee Police chief Lawrence Revell said that the suspect fled the scene on foot and was confronted by officers on nearby Holton Street in the Leon apartment complex.
“Our officer called out, ‘Shots fired.’ He said over the radio that the suspect had pointed a gun at him. The suspect was in possession of a handgun, and a bloody knife was found at the scene of the stabbing.”
However, multiple reports by local news said that McDade was unarmed and had not been warned before the officer began shooting. This is corroborated by those at the scene, who say the police never announced themselves as police before firing.
“As soon as he pulled up I seen him jump out of the car, swing the door open, and start shooting,” eyewitness Clifford Butler told NPR affiliate WFSU.
“I never heard, ‘Get down, freeze, I’m an officer.’ I never heard nothing. I just heard gunshots.”
Another witness, Kim Simmons, can be heard in a video posted to Facebook claiming that police “jumped right out the car and started shooting”, again stating that the officers just “got out the car blasting”.
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Tony McDade said he was victim of a racist, transphobic attack before his death.
The story grows more complex as other reports reveal that, before the incident, McDade had uploaded a video to Facebook promising retribution for a racist, transphobic attack on him by five men.
“It’s just Tony the Tiger all alone coming for your blood,” he wrote in the post.
In the video he added that he would rather have a “stand off” with police officers than return to prison. “I am killing and going to be killed because I will not go back into federal prison,” he said.
While the exact circumstances of his death still remain unclear, the case highlights the prevalence of anti-trans violence which is commonly compounded with racism in the US.
“Tony’s death brings national scrutiny and is a stark reminder of the epidemic of violence that disproportionately claims the lives of Black transgender people in America,” said LGBT+ advocacy group Equality Florida in a statement.
“His death arrives as the country is roiled by the murder of George Floyd by law enforcement in Minneapolis and the police brutality that disproportionately targets communities of colour.”