The body of transgender woman Duanna Johnson, 40 was found yesterday afternoon in North Memphis, TN. The Memphis Flyer reports:
Johnson was the victim of a Memphis police brutality case this summer when a video of former officer Bridges McRae beating her in a jail holding area was released to the media.
The video led to the eventual firing of McRae and Officer James Swain. It also led to the formation of a Stop Police Brutality Memphis, a coalition of human rights activists who lobbied the city council for more sensitivity training for Memphis Police officers.
A statement from the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center: “Duanna bravely confronted the Memphis Police Department officers who brutalized her while she was in police custody. At great personal cost, Duanna was the public face of our community’s campaign against racism, homophobia, and transphobia. There was no justice for Duanna Johnson in life. The Mid-South Peace & Justice Center calls for justice in the investigation and prosecution of Duanna’s murder.”
Johnson was killed just hours before she was supposed to get on a bus to return to her mother in Wisconsin. Johnson struggled with unemployment, a crack addiction and frequent arrests for prostitution and was hoping to get her life back together, according to her attorney Murray Wells, who intends continue Johnson’s lawsuit against the Memphis Polic Departmemt in spite of his client’s death. “She was sort of this unwilling champion to speak up for a cause,” says attorney Wells.Â “She really did a good job and I don’t want that to ever get forgotten”, Wells told Memphis Eyewitness News.
Police currently have no suspects, but report that three young men were seen walking away from the crime scene.