Police on Kiesha Jenkins’s Murder: “This Was Not a Hate Crime at All”

Captain James Clark at today's press conference.

Captain James Clark at today’s press conference.

At a press conference held this afternoon, Captain James Clark, commanding officer of the Philadelphia Police Homicide Unit, addressed speculation surrounding the murder of Kiesha Jenkins, the 22-year-old trans woman who was beaten and shot twice in the back last week.

Although Clark emphasized that the investigation was still ongoing, he said the main motive of the four men who attacked Jenkins appeared to be robbery and that Jenkins was not targeted because of her gender identity.

“This is not a hate crime at all,” Clark said, adding that although it was widely known that the area where Jenkins was attacked was a hotbed for both trans and cisgender prostitution, that the alleged attackers “did not target trans women.”

The one alleged attacker who was arrested, 22-year old Pedro Redding, has been “helping [the police] out” in their investigation, according to Clark, and it does not appear that he is the one who pulled the trigger in Jenkins’s murder. Clark suggested that Jenkins “gave a valiant fight” when she was attacked, and that is why the alleged gunman shot her.

Answering a reporter’s question, Clark said that Jenkins was a prostitute but downplayed speculation that sex work was directly linked to the crime. He also discredited several reports that used the victim’s name given at birth and that suggested that Jenkins was not “out” as trans.

“Her name was Kiesha Jenkins,” Clark responded after a reporter asked about the victim’s name. “Her friends and loved ones called her Kiesha, and she identified as a trans woman.”

The city’s director of LGBT Affairs, Nellie Fitzpatrick, was on hand, and told reporters that she hopes “the media will highlight the excellent efforts to promote justice in this case and not focus or use the talk of sex work to lessen [Jenkins’s] life.”

“The police department has stepped up and has addressed every single life lost in this city,” she added. “These are thoughtful and valiant efforts.”