Koko Da Doll, one of the stars of the documentary Kokomo City, was found dead in Atlanta on Tuesday. She was 35.
Koko, whose non-performance name was Rasheeda Williams, starred in the Sundance Film Festival documentary Kokomo City along with Daniella Carter, Liyah Mitchell and Dominique Silve. The film was the directorial debut of Grammy-nominated producer D. Smith. The documentary depicts the lives of several Black transgender sex workers who live in Atlanta and New York City. It has been lauded for its realistic depiction of the various ways the women navigate their identities and their work.
Atlanta Police found Koko with a gunshot wound around 11 p.m. Tuesday night at a shopping center. Authorities announced her dead at the scene.
“Upon arrival, officers located a female victim with an apparent gunshot wound. She was not alert, conscious or breathing, and pronounced deceased on scene,” police said in a statement. “Homicide investigators responded to the scene and are working to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.”
While police haven’t identified Koko as the victim of the fatal shooting, several cast members of Kokomo City and Smith have taken to social media to confirm it was Koko.
“Rasheeda, aka Koko Da Doll, was the latest victim of violence against Black transgender women,” Smith, who is also a Black transgender woman, wrote. “It’s extremely difficult to process Koko’s passing, but as a team we are more encouraged now than ever to inspire the world with her story.”
Besides appearing in the film, Koko was a rapper.
"I will be the reason there's more opportunities and doors opening for transgender girls," Koko wrote on Instagram. "What you've done here for me is going to save a lot of lives."
"I created Kokomo City because I wanted to show the fun, humanized, natural side of Black trans women. I wanted to create images that didn’t show the trauma or the statistics of murder of Transgender lives. I wanted to create something fresh and inspiring. I did that. We did that! But here we are again," Smith wrote in her tribute to Koko. "[Koko] will inspire generations to come and will never be forgotten.”
Kokomo City won the NEXT Audience and Innovator awards at Sundance. The film was acquired by Magnolia Pictures and will hit theaters later this year.
Koko’s co-star Carter wrote on Instagram, "Never thought I'd lose you, but here I am, standing alone without you by my side. We're sisters for life, we promised, but now you're gone. I don't know what to do without you. I'm going crazy, I'm trying to hold on to keep strong, but it just doesn't feel right. I'm waiting here, my arms wide open, tears running down my face, ready for you to return even if it takes forever, my sister. I will truly miss you, sis."
“Williams should be alive today,” LGBTQ+ media advocacy group GLAAD wrote on its website. “All transgender people deserve to live in safety and acceptance, beloved by their families, communities, and able to contribute to a world where all are more free.”
A GoFund Me to help Koko’s family with funeral costs has raised more than $13,000 at the time of publication.
Koko is the third transgender woman to be the victim of violent crimes in Atlanta this year. Another trans woman, Ashley Burton, was killed earlier this month.
Authorities wrote on Twitter, “The Atlanta Police Department(APD) is actively investigating three violent crimes involving transgender women this year. While these individual incidents are unrelated, we are very aware of the epidemic-level violence black and brown transgender women face in America.”
Koko is at least the tenth trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person to die by violence in the U.S. this year. There are likely many more victims, as some are deadnamed or misgendered by police and media, or their deaths not reported at all.