On April 9, the body of Kenne McFadden was discovered by a barge operator in the San Antonio River. McFadden's death has now become the center of a controversy after a judge decided that the man who threw her into the water will not face a trial.
The San Antonio Police Department had determined there were no signs of trauma on McFadden's body at the time of her death, according to the San Antonio Current. Two months later, after more evidence was considered, the death was ruled a homicide. A suspect (who was already in police custody on unrelated charges) was identified.
McFadden identified as a transgender woman but original police reports had listed McFadden as male. The issue of her identity had apparently held up the police investigation, according to local trans activists.
"This is routine in cases with trans victims," said Nell Gaither, president of Dallas' Trans Pride Initiative, according to the San Antonio Current. "If she presented herself as female, but the cops say they’re looking for information on a man, no one's going to be able to help."
In November, Mark Daniel Lewis, was officially charged with manslaughter, according to Newsweek. McFadden had been under the influence of alcohol and Lewis had failed to help her after she fell into the shallow water.
In a video confession shown in court, Lewis said he had kissed McFadden before she grabbed his buttocks, prompting Lewis to push her into the river.
“I didn’t mean to push him [McFadden] into the river,” Lewis reportedly said in the video, using the incorrect pronoun for McFadden, according to Newsweek. “I meant to push him away.”
Prosecutors had attempted to argue that Lewis' reaction was unreasonable.
State District Judge Joey Contreras described the death as a “terrible tragedy” but nonetheless determined that Lewis' behavior was not criminal. Lewis can not be put on trial again for this crime due to double jeopardy laws.
Protests are now being planned by local LGBTQ organizations who feel that McFadden was not given the justice she deserves, including Justice for Kenne being held today at 6pm.
“Transgender women of color and black trans women are being murdered at an alarming pace … We demand justice for Kenne! We refuse to go away and will show up to make our voices heard!” wrote The San Antonio Gender Association, Pride Center San Antonio and the Transgender Education Network of Texas in a joint statement on Facebook, according to Newsweek.
Statistics on the deaths of trans people in 2018 are difficult to gather. The Human Rights Campaign official website lists the deaths of at least six other transgender individuals that have occurred in the year 2018. 2017 was the deadliest year on record in at least a decade for people who identify as transgender, according to Fast Company.