Settlement reached in lawsuit over death of transsexual entertainer in Philadelphia

BY admin

May 21 2004 11:00 PM ET

The city of Philadelphia and the mother of a slain transsexual entertainer have settled a federal lawsuit that alleged that police and rescue workers contributed to her death.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed in the wrongful death lawsuit filed in U.S. district court in September by Roslyn Wilkins, the mother of Nizah Morris, 47, a transgendered woman.

Wilkins's attorney, Lee Carpenter, said her client was pleased with the May 11 settlement but would not be satisfied until the killer is found. "We think that the settlement will be constructive in improving the
relationship between the city and the transgender community," Carpenter said Thursday. "But we haven't lost sight of the fact that we don't know what happened to Nizah and who ended her life." Wilkins was hospitalized for knee surgery and was unavailable for comment, Carpenter said.

Still pending is a lawsuit against a bar Morris visited shortly before she was found unconscious and bleeding on a downtown Philadelphia street corner on December 22, 2002. Minutes earlier, the suit alleges, she was dropped off by a police officer who picked her up just a few blocks away and "waved off" paramedics responding to a 911 call seeking assistance for an intoxicated Morris.

Police have said that Morris insisted on getting out of the cruiser. She died Christmas Eve 2002 of a skull fracture from a single blow to the head. Her death was ruled a homicide.

Now that the suit is settled against the city police and paramedics, the Police Advisory Commission will begin an investigation into whether police acted properly, said William M. Johnson, the commission's acting executive director. Nizah Morris, born Robert Morris, was a popular performer at Bob and Barbara's Lounge, where she lip-synched tunes by singers such as Eartha Kitt and Peggy Lee.

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