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Spokane Police Under Investigation for Response to Trans Woman's Assault

Spokane Police Under Investigation for Response to Trans Woman's Assault


Jacina Carla Scamahorn is demanding an apology from Spokane police officers who she says were disrespectful while responding to an assault that has left her recovering from head injuries.

Police in Spokane, Wash., are under investigation for their response to a vicious assault on a transgender woman at a bakery Friday night, reports local newspaper The Spokesman-Review.

Jacina Carla Scamahorn was sent to the hospital after 10 p.m.with "major damage to the left side of her face," including several broken bones, according to Spokane Human Rights Commission chair Blaine Sturn. Scamahorn sustained the injuries from two men who she says had been drinking at a nearby bar, verbally harassed her for being trans and homeless, and then followed her into the bakery.

One employee, John Dandurand, who recognized Scamahorn as a regular customer, witnessed the attack that ensued. He described to local news station KXLY how two unknown men verbally accosted Scamahorn and shoved her into a booth after accusing her of spitting in their faces. Running outside to try to find help, Dandurand said he came back inside to find the men beating the woman, yelling slurs, and kicking her in the face at least once.

When police arrived, Scamahorn told the Review, they added insult to injury by being disrespectful and referring to her as a "man" several times, despite protests from the bakery's servers. "Staff tried to correct them, and [the police] basically told them to shut up," she explained.

Her experience prompted the Spokane Human Rights Council to call for a City Council meeting to show support for Scamahorn and the city's entire trans community. Dandurand descibed the attackers using derogatory language "[about Scamahorn's] sexuality, her gender ... a few variations of the f-word," leading Sturn and others to say that the attack may be a hate crime.

Spokane police's major crimes division was assigned to the investigation, but has not indicated whether the investigation will consider the possibility that attack was motivated by bias against the victim's gender identity.

Monday night, 150 impassioned citizens showed up to the City Council meeting to protest Scamahorn's treatment by Spokane police, and call for more protection for the city's most vulnerable members, the Review reports. The police department responded today by launching an investigation into how police responded to Scamahorn's assault, according to spokeswoman Monique Cotton.

Cotton added that police had recently undergone cultural sensitivity training regarding LGBT communities, but Scamahorn says she wants to see more training and an apology. Police have yet to identify her attackers.

Anyone with information regarding the assault is asked to call Spokane County Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

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