Police officers who fired 16 shots at Black trans woman Roxanne Moore used “reasonable force”, says the Pennsylvania district attorney.
Moore, 29, remains in hospital, in critical but stable condition, after being fired at by officers on September 13.
At a press conference on Wednesday (September 23), Pennsylvania district attorney John T. Adams said that the police shooting Moore 16 times was “justified” and confirmed that she was hit multiple times.
“Based on the facts of what took place here, the law that we must follow here in Pennsylvania, I have determined that the shooting was a reasonable use of force, which was justified under the law here in Pennsylvania,” Adams said.
Moore allegedly pointed a gun at officers before they fired at her. Authorities later found that though the gun she was wielding was loaded, it was unoperable due to a safety mechanism that wouldn’t allow it to be fired.
“The only person who knew that that gun could not fire, most likely, was the owner of the gun, from whom it was taken,” Adams said. “There’s no way anyone could have determined from a distance that that gun could not be fired.”
He added that footage from the body cameras worn by officers had not been released, as local activists have been urging, because Moore will be charged once she is medically fit.
“I would have released the body cam footage, but it’s evidence in a criminal case,” he said. “We would be happy to release it.”
Police had been called to reports of “shots fired” at 7am on September 13 in Reading, Pennsylvania. The first officer to arrive on the scene saw Moore holding a gun, ordered her to drop it, and fired when she didn’t.
Moore had reportedly just left her apartment after having an argument. She was known to police as having mental-health issues and Adams said she was “displaying erratic behaviour” during the incident on September 13.
All three officers involved in the shooting have been put on temporary administrative leave.
Roxanne Moore: Family and friends show support.
Friends and family of Roxanne Moore gathered last Sunday (September 20) to show her their support, as she remained in hospital following the shooting.
Wearing Black Trans Lives Matter buttons and T-shirts, friends and family spoke of their love for Moore.
“I just want my sister to know I love her,” her brother reportedly said, according to the local newspaper Reading Eagle. “That’s all.”
Moore’s family and friends also criticised the police’s handling of events, saying that officers should have used deescalation tactics or crisis intervention instead of opening fire.
They claimed someone who was experiencing visible trauma should have been met with “patience and compassion […] not violence, felony charges, and hospitalization,” as the Reading Eagle reported.
A date has not been set for the return to work of the three officers involved in the shooting.
Jane Palmer, executive director of the progressive group Berks Stands Up, said: “We see in their treatment centuries of racism and homophobia, and we have had enough.
“Do Black people ever get the benefit of the doubt in a situation involving the police? Add trans or gender-nonconforming on top of that, and you’re in real trouble.
“We’re here today for Roxanne, who is, at this very moment, still in the hospital in critical condition because of who she is: a Black trans woman.
“Any one of those things, being Black, being trans, being a woman, would make her vulnerable, but she lives at the intersection of all three.”