TDoR 2009 / 2008 / November / 09 / Duanna Johnson

Duanna Johnson

Age 42

9 Nov 2008
Memphis, Tennessee (USA)

TDoR list ref: Nov 2008/Duanna Johnson

Duanna Johnson
Duanna Johnson [photo:]

Duanna was shot in the head. Witnesses reported hearing gunfire and seeing three men run away. Police said they have no suspects in the murder.

At the time of her death Duanna was in the process of suing the city for police brutality.

The videotaped beating of a transgender woman in police custody in Memphis last February led to charges against two officers and national condemnation from gay rights groups. The officers were fired, and the Police Department overhauled some of its procedures and began sensitivity training for the entire force.

But a week ago, the woman, Duanna Johnson, 43, was found fatally shot near downtown. Ms. Johnson’s death has revived scrutiny of the case as the department is under pressure to find the killer.

“Duanna Johnson’s case was tragic before, and now it’s an almost unimaginable loss,” said Jared Feuer, the Southern regional director of Amnesty International. “Her treatment demonstrates a culture of violence against transgender people that must be addressed.”

Ms. Johnson sustained a gunshot wound to the head late on Nov. 9, the police said, and officers found her body after responding to a shooting call in North Memphis. Investigators said three men were seen near the crime scene before the officers arrived, but police officials say they have no suspects, have made no arrests and do not have a motive for the killing.

Ms. Johnson’s case attracted national attention in June after local television stations obtained a grainy surveillance videotape that showed a police officer, identified as Bridges McRae, striking her repeatedly with a gloved fist with handcuffs slipped over his knuckles and pepper-spraying her in the face.

Another officer, James Swain, held down the 6-foot-5 Ms. Johnson during the assault, which occurred on Feb. 12 after she was arrested on a prostitution charge. Ms. Johnson, who was in a booking area at the Shelby County Jail in Memphis at the time of the attack, told the authorities that Officer McRae had also hurled antigay epithets at her.

Duanna's murder was the subject of a documentary titled "Who Killed Duanna Johnson?" ( in 2011.

Report added: 11 Nov 2018. Last updated: 13 Jan 2021

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