Black Trans Woman Killed in Los Angeles While Pounding on Door for Help

By Jamilah King Dec 05, 2014

Deshawnda "Tata" Sanchez, 21, desperately sought help as she pounded on the front door of a home in Compton in the early morning hours of Wednesday morning. But help arrived too late. Sanchez was shot and killed by someone detectives believe was out to rob her.

"Deshawnda is a transgender female,"  LAPD Detective Christopher Barling told KTLA. "At this point we cannot say it’s a hate crime but we have not ruled out that as being a possibility."

A heart-wrenching but potentially helpful detail in the case is that the killing was caught on a nearby surveillance camera. Diana Williams, Sanchez’s sister, watched it."The footage, it was heartbreaking," she said.

Sanchez’s death seems eerily similar to Aniya Parker‘s, another black transgender woman who was killed in Los Angeles in recent months during what police suspect was a robbery. Parker’s killing was also caught on camera, and while a $50,000 reward has been offered in the case, no one has been arrested for the crime.

Shortly after Parker’s death in October, the Anti-Violence Project issued a statement bringing attention to a rash of recent murders of transgender women of color. The statement noted that the organization has "documented 18 anti-LGBTQ homicides last year. Of those homicide victims, almost 90 [percent] were people of color, almost three-quarters (72 [percent]) of homicide victims were transgender women, and more than two-thirds (67 [percent]) of homicide victims were transgender women of color."

The group detailed homicides of trans women since June 2014:

  • June 3: the body of Kandy Hall was discovered in a field in Northeast Baltimore in what local police believe to be a homicide.
  • June 12: Zoraida Reyes’s body was discovered behind a Dairy Queen in Anaheim, Calif., Her death has been ruled suspicious by investigators because it is believed her body was moved to that location, but has not yet been ruled a homicide.
  • June 19: the body of Yaz’min Shancez was found behind a Budget Truck Rental on Powell Street in Fort Myers, Fla. According to local media reports, local police believe her death to be a homicide, and her body had been burned.
  • June 26: Tiff Edwards was found shot to death in the middle of the road in Walnut Hills, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati.
  • July 16: Mia Henderson was discovered in an alley in Baltimore while police were serving a search warrant in the area. According to police, she appears to have died from trauma to the body, indicating homicide.
  • August 15: An unidentified gender non-conforming person was the victim of a homicide in Detroit. Police have arrested Eduardo Moss, who they believe was the victim’s partner, in connection to this homicide. Local authorities also believe this homicide is connected to two other attacks against transgender women in Michigan in recent weeks.
  • September 7: Alejandra Leos, a transgender woman of color, was shot outside her home following a domestic dispute that originated within the home. Marshall Pegues, age 21, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in connection with her death.

Last month, BuzzFeed’s Dominic Holden reported that transgender women in Ohio are at the heart of a national crisis.