Chloe Alexander Moore, a 25-year-old transgender woman living in D.C., says that she pepper-sprayed a man in self-defense after he hurled transphobic comments at and pushed her. He then tackled and seriously hurt her as she tried to get away to safety, at which point Raphael Radon revealed himself as an off-duty police officer. He and his buddies claim that she launched an unprovoked attack, and that's the story the official police report is sticking to, charging Moore with assault while Radon goes along his merry way.
But Moore's version is backed up not only by her companion, but by the one witness on the scene who wasn't with either party.
In fact, the responding officers found Radon to be at fault, but were prohibited from charging him by a supervisor at the other end of a telephone. According to the Washington Blade, which obtained leaked documents about the case, "two police sources said a sergeant and detective who responded to the scene determined through interviews with witnesses that Officer Radon initiated the altercation and may have committed a bias-related assault against Moore." But when they called in the attack, Capt. Michelle Williams at the First District D.C. Police Station insisted that Moore be charged with assault instead, a move that smacks of a higher-up trying to protect one of their own and perhaps anti-trans bias. Moore further alleges that she was initially denied medical attention despite her requests.
The D.C. Trans Coalition (DCTC) has rallied in support of Moore and against police transphobia. DCTC attorney Allison Gill points out that while they and other LGBT organizations have been training volunteer officers on appropriate sensitivity, "What this incident shows us is that training self-selected volunteers is only a small step toward ensuring that MPD officers fully comply with DC’s human rights law." Of course, it's rarely the people willing to volunteer who really need this kind of training. Gill further calls for "a swift rejection of this kind of behavior from the highest levels within MPD, along with a real plan for making sure that every law enforcement officer knows and follows the law, including mandatory training for the entire force."
DC police lacks a sterling record when it comes to transphobia in the force, so this comes as another in a line of reported abuses. Both Moore and Radon himself agree that, at the least, the officer referred to her disparagingly as a "guy."
While D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier told the Washington Blade that the department's Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the incident, it doesn't make sense that Moore suffers with being charged with assault, against the recommendations of the responding officers and the story laid out by the disinterested witness on the scene, while nothing has happened to Officer Radon. Internal Affairs should certainly continue to investigate the potential police misconduct and anti-trans bias displayed in this incident. But that's not enough.
Officer Radon should also be suspended pending a through investigation of the case to determine why charges were not originally filed against him and if they should be at this date, while Moore's assault charge should be examined and dismissed if it appears she was only a victim of police discrimination. In addition, DC police should pledge to work with DCTC and other LGBT groups to implement mandatory training to assure that homophobia and transphobia have no place in the police department.
Photo credit: cliff1066