Police shoot transgender woman after reported stabbing in West End of St. Louis | St. Louis Public Radio

Police shoot transgender woman after reported stabbing in West End of St. Louis

Aug 23, 2017

Updated at 5:24 p.m. — Members of the LGBTQ community, activists and advocates are outraged that police shot and killed a transgender black woman this week.

Frustrated by the shooting — and that police identified Kenneth “Kiwi” Herring as a man — about 40 people gathered outside the building in which Herring was shot Tuesday for a vigil and to express dissatisfaction with a police force they said was disrespectful and too quick to shoot.

The vigil evolved into a march from Sherman Park to Kingshighway West neighborhood. Participants held signs that read “Black Trans Lives Matter.”

According to an incident report in which Herring is not named, at about 8 a.m. Tuesday, two police officers responded to a call in the Academy neighborhood that someone had been stabbed on the 5200 block of Ridge Avenue. A 30-year old man who had been cut by a knife told police his attacker was inside the building, the report said.

When the two officers entered the building, a person with a knife confronted them, cutting one of the officers, police said. Both officers responded by shooting and killing the person. Some initial media reports picked up the police narrative and identified Herring as a man.

Late Tuesday afternoon, police said Herring swung a knife at both officers and did not respond to their commands. The two officers fired, striking Herring several times, a police report said. One officer was treated at a hospital and released and the 30-year-old man who was stabbed was listed in serious condition at a hospital, police said.

Herring was pronounced dead at the scene. Police took another person into custody.

Fourteen-year-old Vichante McKinney lives on the block where Herring was killed. She said she used to visit Herring, who would braid her hair.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Late Tuesday, LGBTQ community members and supporters gathered outside the building in which Herring was shot, to mourn her passing.

At the vigil, several people including Herring’s sister-in-law, Crevonda Nance, discounted initial police reports. They said Herring, who Nance and others said was a transgender woman, was a nonviolent and caring person.

Some said Herring and her partner had been targets of harassment and had previous conflicts with their downstairs neighbor over their gender identities.  

People left messages of love on a poster on the door to the apartment where Herring was killed by police.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Nance said Herring wrote her a text Tuesday morning, mentioning a conflict with the neighbor.

From the steps of the building where Herring died, Nance said Herring had long fought for acceptance and said that 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.

At the vigil, speakers offered condolences to the family while explaining that Herring and her partner had been harassed in recent months because of their relationship.

Cathy "Mama Cat" Daniels leads a chant before the start of a prayer for Herring.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Nance said that harassment set in motion the events that led to Herring’s death.  

“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 he [she] is!” said Nance.

Mourners observed three minutes of silence in honor of Herring — one minute for each of her surviving children.

Advocates and the Metro Trans Umbrella Group are raising funds to help Herring’s family cover any legal expenses, funeral arrangements, and provide for Herring’s children.

Follow Willis on Twitter: @WillisRArnold