A Washington, D.C. police officer who fired multiple shots into a car with three transgender women and their friends is getting off easy. The officer, 48-year-old Kenneth Furr, was sentenced yesterday “to three years of supervised probation, a $150 fine, and 100 hours of community service,” the Washington Blade reports. The transgender community in D.C. has reacted with outrage.
The D.C. Superior Court Judge, Russell Canan, also sentenced Furr “to five years in prison but suspended all but 14 months of the prison term and credited Furr with the 14 months he already served between the time of his arrest and his trial last October,” the publication reported. The officer was released from jail while he awaits sentencing for his conviction on charges of assault and solicitation for prostitution. Furr was acquitted on the more serious charges of assault with intent to kill with a weapon.
The judge also ordered the officer to stay away from D.C.’s well known areas for transgender prostitution.
“This result is the product of a legal system that constantly devalues trans lives, particularly trans people of color,” Jason Terry, an activist with the D.C. Trans Coalition, told the Blade. “Officer Furr’s defense team actively sought to portray the victims as somehow deserving of this violence, and apparently they succeeded. If roles had been reversed and a black trans woman had gotten drunk and shot a gun at a police officer, the results would be drastically different.”
The case revolves around events that occurred in August 2011. On a Washington, D.C. street, Furr asked one of the transgender woman for sex for money. After the woman refused, Furr followed her to a CVS store and, when he was outside the store, pointed a gun at the transgender woman. After the officer drove away, the group of transgender woman and their male friends followed him, until Furr stopped his car and fired his gun at the car.
Then, “one of the male friends driving the vehicle ducked to avoid being shot and unintentionally rammed the car into Furr’s car, witnesses testified,” the Blade reports. “Furr responded by climbing on the hood of the car occupied by the transgender women and their friends and fired five times through the front windshield, causing three of the occupants to suffer non-fatal gunshot wounds.”
When D.C. police came to the scene, they arrested Furr, who had a “blood alcohol level twice the legal limit under D.C. law,” according to the publication.
The Washington Blade also reports that Furr’s attorney seems to have convinced the jury that Furr was acting in self-defense, which is why he was not convicted on the more serious charges.
While Furr is getting off relatively easy legally, the case will have ramifications for his job. D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump told the Blade that Furr “has been suspended without pay and that the department will follow its standard procedure for dealing with an officer convicted of a felony.” The standard procedure, according to the Blade, is that “a felony conviction, especially one associated with violence, usually results in the firing of a police officer.”