The death of Islan Nettles, a transgender woman in New York, is being investigated as a hate crime.
The 21-year-old was attacked in Harlem last Saturday by a group of men. According to NY1, an argument took place after one of the men learned Nettles, who was with two transgender friends, was not born a female. Nettles slipped into a coma and was taken off life support Thursday. A spokesperson for the New York City Chief Medical examiner said Nettles died of “blunt impact injuries to the head.” The death was ruled a homicide.
Twenty-year-old Paris Wilson repeatedly punched Nettles in the face. His friends yelled derogatory slurs as Wilson continued to beat Nettles, who had fallen and hit her head on the pavement.
One of Nettles’ friends called police, who found Nettles “unconscious on the ground with a swollen shut eye and blood on her face.” Wilson was arrested on an assault misdemeanor charge and released on $2,000 bail Thursday. However, the charges against him may be upgraded, and the case is being investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s hate crimes unit.
According to the New York Daily News, Nettles had two Facebook page. One was under his birth name, Vaughn Nettles, and the other under Islan Nettles. Wilson was friends with the latter.
Nettles’ mother, Delores, said Wilson should spend the rest of his life in jail.
“He deserves to rot because he took a life,” she said. She also lamented the fact that she didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to her son. She also said she accepted her son, regardless of his identity.
“I accepted him no matter what because I loved him at the end of the day,” she said. “My son was a beautiful woman.”
“An attack against one person, or one community, is an assault against all New Yorkers,” Quinn said in a joint statement with other council members. “We ask all New Yorkers to come together, to embrace our differences and to denounce hate violence.”
Earlier this week, transgender YouTube star Domonique Newburn was found beaten to death in her apartment in Fontana, California. Police have identified 18-year-old Dantjier Powell of San Bernardino as a suspect in the 31-year-old’s death. He is believed to be traveling with 15-year-old Jamie Nicole Cotton of Highland. Police said Powell may be trying to leave the state. Investigators have yet to determine a motive.