Philadelphia police have determined that the killing of Kiesha Jenkins, a young transgender woman, was not a hate crime after capturing one suspect in connection with the incident.
After receiving a tip, police arrested Pedro Redding, 24, and charged him with murder, robbery and other related offenses.
At 2:33 a.m. on Oct. 6, police said, a man had just let Jenkins out of a car near Hunting Park when Redding and three of his friends attacked, punching and kicking her, and attempted to rob her. Jenkins fought back. One of Redding’s accomplices pulled out a gun and shot her twice, police said.
Homicide Capt. James Clark said the men targeted Jenkins because they knew she was a sex worker and might be carrying cash.
“It’s a sad and senseless murder, but it is not a hate crime,” Clark said. “It had nothing to do with the individual being a transgender. It just had everything to do with the fact that they thought she had money, and they wanted to take it from her.”
Advocates said even if investigators had determined that Logan resident Redding and the others were targeting Jenkins for her gender identity, state law allows police to bring hate crime charges for violence based only on victims’ race, skin color, religion or national origin.
However, for members of the LBGT community, which has been gripped by Jenkins’ murder, the impact is the same.
“Any time someone is beaten to the ground and shot twice in the back and left for dead, that’s something fueled by hate,” said Nellie Fitzpatrick, Philadelphia’s director of LGBT affairs.
Jenkins was the 21st transgender woman killed in the U.S. in the past year and the 18th transgender woman of color.
Clark said investigators are “very close” to finding the other three suspects, including the gunman, and that the group is also responsible for several other reported and “not reported” robberies in the area.
Police said Redding has been arrested four times before, including on charges that he and another man robbed a transgender woman. However, the victim did not show up for court and the charges were dropped.