Black Transgender Man Killed by Tallahassee Police in Shooting

Tony McDade, photo via Facebook.

(WM) A Black transgender man was killed by a Tallahassee police officer May 27 in the third officer-involved shooting in the city in the past two months, according to local reports.

38-year-old Tony McDade was identified by Tallahassee Police as matching the description of a suspect in a fatal stabbing that had taken place that morning, the area’s ABC affiliate shared.

McDade had uploaded a Facebook Live video on that date, in which he said he planned to have a confrontation with the police to avoid future incarceration. CBS affiliate WCTV noted that his criminal record included a 10-year sentence on weapons charges.

“Because I will not be going back to prison,” McDade said in the video, as transcribed by WCTV, “Me and the law will be having a standoff.”

TPD officers said McDade was armed with a gun, which led to the shooting of McDade by a TPD officer. “The suspect then made a move consistent with using the firearm against the officer, who fired their issued handgun, fatally striking the … suspect,” the WTXL report states.

The TPD officer who shot McDade did not suffer injuries as a result of the shooting and according to the outlet has been placed on administrative leave.

McDade has been misgendered by police and local media in their reporting of the incident.

Equality Florida addressed the shooting via social media on May 28, calling it reflective of the large-scale violence committed against transgender people of color in the United States.

“Tony’s death brings national scrutiny and is a stark reminder of the epidemic of violence that disproportionately claims the lives of Black transgender people in America,” the nonprofit shared. “His death arrives as the country is roiled by the murder of George Floyd by law enforcement in Minneapolis and the police brutality that disproportionately targets communities of color.

“It also comes in the wake of armed vigilantes murdering Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick, Georgia while he was out jogging and of police officers fatally shooting Breonna Taylor eight times in her Louisville, Kentucky apartment while serving a ‘no-knock’ warrant,'” they continued.

Calling Florida “an epicenter of anti-trans violence,” the organization reflected on the seven black transgender women who have been murdered in the state since 2018. They also discussed misgendering by law enforcement and media, which “often cloud initial reports of trans related violence, disrespecting the victim, and impacting ongoing law enforcement investigations.”

“It is important to the victim, their families, and the community that accurate information is consistently reported and the victim is treated with dignity and respect,” they noted. 

The organization subsequently joined 75 others in condemning violent racism May 29 in a letter initiated by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). McDade’s name is referenced within the letter and HRC also released a separate statement about his death.

“The Human Rights Campaign and the entire transgender and non-binary community demand accountability and answers for Tony’s death – and countless violent deaths of trans people, Black people and, disproportionately, Black transgender people,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. “While these deaths are visible due to recordings and social media, we know far too many go completely ignored. Black people, LGBTQ people, and especially all LGBTQ people of color are at greater risk for violence every day in this country. This must end. Our hearts are heavy as we mourn with Tony’s family and friends.”

This incident is still under investigation by TPD. The victim of the fatal stabbing has not been identified and additional information on the events leading up to the stabbing and/or shooting of McDade have yet to be released by authorities.

Equality Florida will welcome HRC President Alphonso David and others to a virtual town hall on June 3. Panelists will discuss “the intersections of systemic racism and injustice against the LGBTQ community and call on supporters of LGBTQ civil rights to take action.” You can RSVP here.