NATIONAL NEWS

Teen accused in death of transgender woman from documentary

Apr 27, 2023, 4:48 PM

In this family photo provided by sister Kilya Williams, Koko Da Doll, a subject of the documentary ...

In this family photo provided by sister Kilya Williams, Koko Da Doll, a subject of the documentary "Kokomo City," about the lives of transgender Black women, poses for a picture on vacation near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on Sept. 24, 2022. Koko was shot dead in Atlanta, late Wednesday, April 19, 2023, family members say. Atlanta police say they are investigating the shooting and that it could be classified as a hate crime. (Kilya Williams via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Kilya Williams via AP)

ATLANTA (AP) — A 17-year-old is in custody in connection with the shooting death earlier this month of Koko Da Doll, an Atlanta woman who gained notice in a documentary about transgender Black women and the dangers they face, police said Thursday.

The teenager faces charges of murder and aggravated assault in the death of the 35-year-old transgender woman, also known as Rasheeda Williams. The teenager surrendered to officers at a precinct in northwest Atlanta on Wednesday, identifying himself as the person of interest being sought in the case, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Police had previously released surveillance images of a man wearing a sports jersey walking up to the entrance of an apartment building. Authorities said detectives wanted to identify the person “to assist with the current investigation on the homicide.”

The teenager said he was the man in the photos, but he denied shooting anyone, according to an arrest warrant obtained by the newspaper.

A witness said she saw Williams arguing with a man before hearing gunshots. The witness said she ran over to help.

In addition to the murder and assault charges, the teenager faces a count of possessing a gun during the commission of a felony. He is being held in the Fulton County Jail. It was unknown if he has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Koko had gained notice earlier this year when she and others appeared in the documentary “Kokomo City,” describing her life as a transgender woman, her interactions with Black men as a sex worker, and the threats of violence she sometimes faced.

“Kokomo City” director D. Smith wrote in a statement on Instagram that she wanted to make a movie “to show the fun, humanized, natural side of Black trans women” and not focus on “trauma or the statistics of murder of transgender lives.”

“Kokomo City” won a NEXT Innovator Award and an audience award at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and also won an award at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival. It’ was presented earlier this month at the Atlanta Film Festival. Magnolia Pictures plans to release the film widely later this year.

Koko was the third Black trans woman to be killed in Atlanta. The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ rights group, tracked at least 38 transgender people nationwide who were killed in 2022.

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Teen accused in death of transgender woman from documentary