Group calls for justice after mistrial in transgender beating case

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The day after a federal judge declared a mistrial in the case of a former Memphis police officer accused of beating a transgender-gender prisoner, supporters of Duanna Johnson held vigil in Downtown Memphis.

Wednesday a federal judge is expected to discuss how and when to proceed with a new trial for the Former Memphis Police Officer charged with beating a transgender prisoner. For her supporters, a new trial can't come soon enough.

"Justice has not been served for Duanna Johnson," Jonathan Cole with the Tennessee Equality Project told the roughly two dozen people gathered outside the Federal Building Tuesday evening.

"Why is it that 12 jurors cannot find this man guilty of violating Duanna Johnson's civil rights?" Cole said.

Eleven jurors did vote to convict former Memphis Police Officer Bridges McRae. One voted not to.

"We can hope that in the next trial all 12 jurors will be able to convict," Cole said. "But for now, justice delayed is justice denied."

McRae is seen on this surveillance video hitting Duanna Johnson repeatedly while she was sitting down. The officer is also seen spraying Johnson with pepper spray.

McRae testified that Johnson pushed him and scratched him. Johnson was a biological man living as a woman.

The 43-year-old was shot to death later in 2008 on a street corner near her home. No arrests have been made.

"It's a member of our community who is not able to speak for herself, so we need to speak for her," Elyahnna Hall said.

Hall is also transgender.

"What happened to her has effected me personally, because I know it could happen to any of us," Hall said. "It could happen to me."

The Memphis Police Department fired McRae after the incident. He is charged with civil rights violations and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if he is convicted in a new trial.

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