Authorities in Newark, N.J., are reviewing the investigation of a Black transgender woman’s death that was ruled a suicide and have announced reforms in the wake of criticism over how the police handled the case.
Ashley Moore, 21, was found dead April 1 just outside the Newark YW/YMCA, where she had lived, Tap Into Newark reports. But her mother, Starlet Carbins, said police did not report Moore’s death to her, and she learned of it on Facebook nine days later.
Family members also questioned the ruling of suicide, as Moore had ligature and strangulation marks on her neck, according to the police report, and those could be signs of foul play. The family and LGBTQ+ advocates have called for further investigation.
Now the homicide unit of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office will take another look at the circumstances of Moore’s death, officials there announced. And Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said the city will establish an LGBTQ+ hotline, to be operated through the Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center, and will require police to contact local LGBTQ+ organizations and activists if they need additional information when investigating crimes against the community, such as help in identifying next of kin, under a new policy called the Ashley Moore Amendment. The city will also add an “LGBTQ” identity box to gender options on police reports, although Moore was correctly identified as a woman, Mayor Baraka said.
“I met with friends and supporters of Ms. Moore to offer condolences and apologies for the inexcusable amount of time it took for police to notify her mother of her death,” he said in a written statement, according to Tap Into Newark. “It was clear to me that once the family was located, there were gaps in communication between the police and Ms. Moore’s survivors, which left the family with many questions about the circumstances of her death. We must do better in timely notifications when next of kin are not readily known and give survivors composite detail regarding the death of their loved one.”