Transgender woman Maddie Hofmann, 47, was shot to death by police in Malvern, Pa., in May, news that has only recently been widely reported.
Police were called to Hofmann's home to do a wellness check May 19 after receiving a report that a woman there was having a mental health crisis, according to Philadelphia TV station WTXF. Hofmann approached them outside the house, holding a handgun and a cell phone. Hofmann dropped the gun at one point, and then picked it up inside the house and struggled with an officer for it. Hofmann then pointed it at the officers, and then one of them fatally shot the trans woman.
The incident was recorded on body-cam video. The Chester County District Attorney's Office reviewed the footage and determined that the use of deadly force was justified because "the police officer had a reasonable belief that his life, and the lives of others, were in danger of serious bodily injury or death," District Attorney Deb Ryan said in a press release.
Hofmann's loved ones took issue. "Maddie's family is devastated by this loss," her sister Emily Flynn wrote on a GoFundMe page. "Nationwide, police are usually the first responders to people with mental health crises. They are often not trained to provide proper support and the results have been deadly and devastating. Maddie's family wishes to elevate this important issue so that it does not happen to another person ever again."
The money raised will go toward scholarships for Hofmann's two children, cover some of the legal fees involved in assuring the shooting is fully investigated, and, if enough is available, start a foundation or scholarship fund for trans young people in the foster care system, according to Flynn.
Hofmann was born in Korea and adopted by an American family. They grew up in Vermont and New Jersey. They leave a wife, Rebecca Hofmann, and children aged 9 and 3.
They are the second trans American known to have been killed by police in 2022, the other being trans man Aaron Lynch of McLean, Va., who was also having a mental health crisis at the time of his death July 7. Twenty-seven trans people are known to have died by violence in the U.S. overall this year.
"Anytime someone experiencing a mental health crisis is killed by the police, it is incumbent upon each of us to rededicate ourselves to transforming how our society responds to individuals with unmet mental health needs," Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign's Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a press release. "Now, not only is a family in mourning for the loss of a beloved parent and spouse, but the LGBTQ+ community is mourning another light that has been extinguished far too soon. Maddie's life was a light in this world."