Cordell M. Howze: Milwaukee, Wisconsin – A man has been charged in the death of Cashay Henderson, a Black transgender woman who was found shot dead in her Milwaukee apartment on February 26th.
The incident has shaken the LGBTQ+ community in Milwaukee, where Henderson was known as an activist.
According to a criminal complaint, the Milwaukee Fire Department was responding to a fire in Henderson’s apartment when they found her unconscious and not breathing, with a gunshot wound. She was discovered “after the fire was extinguished and the apartment was vented.”
An autopsy found that the cause of death was “multiple gunshot wounds” to her head and neck, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide. Officials say the cause of the fire was arson.
Cordell M. Howze was charged on Sunday with “first-degree reckless homicide, habitual criminality repeater, use of a dangerous weapon” as well as “possession of a firearm by a felon.”
If convicted of these charges, he could face up to 85 years in prison and could be fined up to $25,000, officials say.
Henderson’s family wants her to be remembered as “a jokester,” “independent,” “unapologetic,” and someone who “walks to the beat of her own drum.”
Henderson, originally from Chicago, was a well-known figure in the Milwaukee LGBTQ+ community and was known for her advocacy.
“I’m proud of her. I’m proud that she made an impact on our community,” said Levette Whitlock, Henderson’s cousin, in an interview with ABC News. “I’m proud people are standing up for her. I love that her community is coming and helping us.”
She is the fourth transgender person in the past year to be killed in Milwaukee. The city has been grappling with violence against the LGBTQ+ community, and Henderson’s death has once again highlighted the need for greater protection for the community.
“The Milwaukee Police Department sends our condolences to Cashay’s family and loved ones, the LGBTQIA+ community, and all members of the public that were impacted by this tragic incident,” the department said in a statement. “His arrest represents one step forward in delivering justice to Cashay and reassuring the community, especially the LGBTQIA+ community, that MPD is committed to serving all persons inclusively.”
Henderson’s death is a tragedy and a reminder of the ongoing violence against transgender people, especially transgender women of color.
It is important to hold those responsible for her death accountable and to continue to fight for greater protections and equality for the LGBTQ+ community.