Kiwi Herring, a married transgender woman of color and mother of three young children, was shot and killed by police in St. Louis, Missouri.
Herring, 30, becomes the 18th known transgender person to be killed in 2017.
According to acting St. Louis police chief Lawrence O’Toole, police responded at around 8:00 AM on Tuesday morning after receiving multiple calls regarding a stabbing at Herring’s two-family residence. When officers arrived they found Herring’s neighbor, who had severe lacerations to his face, arms and torso. The 30-year-old neighbor, who has not been identified, told police that Herring had stabbed him and was in the apartment next door.
When officers tried to arrest Herring, she slashed at the officers with a kitchen knife, slicing one of the officers. “The suspect flourished a knife and slashed at the officers, slicing the one officer on the arm,” O’Toole said in a statement. The officers, one a 7-year veteran and the other a 9-year veteran of the police force, then fired their service weapons, killing Herring at the scene. According to O’Toole, the officer’s injury was not serious. It is also being reported that Herring’s husband, Kristopher Thompson, who is also transgender, has been arrested on assault charges for handing the knife to Herring, which was used in both incidents with the neighbor and the police. The two officers involved with the shooting are now on administrative leave, which is protocol, while the case is being reviewed.
O’Toole also said that there had been a history of domestic violence between the neighbor and Herring, including a reported fire the night before. According to the St. Louis Fire Department, the fire was started by a piece of charcoal that fell out of a barbecue pit on the second floor and caused damage to both the first and second floor porches. Herring had told a next-door neighbor that she suspected it was arson and that she planned to confront her downstairs neighbor regarding the incident.
Late Tuesday, LGBTQ+ community members and supporters gathered outside the residence to mourn her passing. At the vigil was Herring’s sister-in-law, Crevonda Nance, who is discounting police accounts regarding the incident that took place. According to Nance, Herring was a nonviolent and caring person, and the police had used excessive force. Friends of Herring have also said that her neighbor was transphobic, and that Herring and her husband had had often been the targets of harassment by the neighbor.
Nance spoke from the steps of Herring’s residence, saying that she had long fought for acceptance while people refused to accept her true identity. “Sister, why can’t people judge me for who I am and what I do, instead of what they think I look like or what they think I should look like?” Nance said Herring once told her. “When we take it into our own hands to make fun of people, to hurt them, to hit them, to even have situations that happen, that escalates from an argument between two neighbors, and then the police come out — and now we have someone dead for who [she] is!” said Nance.
On Wednesday, a candlelight vigil was held at the Transgender Memorial Garden, where over 100 people gathered to honor the memory of Herring. After the vigil, demonstrators began to march in the street when a man, identified as Mark Colao, 59, turned his black Mercedes around three other cars that had stopped and proceeded to accelerate his vehicle into into the crowd. Demonstrators claim the driver was honking his horn and giving them the middle finger as he proceeded to drive through the crowd. Three people suffered minor injuries as a result of the incident. Demonstrators were also seen jumping onto the hood of the car. Colao was taken into custody and has been charged with resisting arrest, leaving the scene of an accident and operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner.
See the police video of the incident below (no audio):
Rest in power Kiwi Herring.
Here are the names of the 18 victims of transgender murders in 2017:
Mesha Caldwell, 41 years old
Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28 years old
JoJo Striker, 23 years old
Jaqarrius Holland, 18 years old
Keke Collier, 24 years old
Chyna Gibson, 31 years old
Ciara McElveen, 21 years old
Alphonza Watson, 38 years old
Chay Reed, 28 years old
Kenneth Bostick, 59 years old
Sherrell Faulkner, 46 years old
Kenne McFadden, 26 years old
Josie Berrios, 28 years old
Ava Le’Ray Barrin, 17 years old
Ebony Morgan, 28 years old
TeeTee Dangerfield, 32 years old
Gwynevere River Song, 26 years old
Kiwi Herring, 30 years old