If you were among the crazy — or drunk — crowd that managed to handle the early morning stampede known as Black Friday, there’s a good chance that at some point during the flat screen TV rush and the toy aisle mania you felt your personal space was invaded. So much so that you might have even considered the inappropriate crushing of your limbs to be an assault. But that’s nothing compared to what trans woman Akasha Adonis and her mother faced at the Kohl’s store in Jackson, Tennessee, on Nov. 26. Not only was she brutally assaulted by “overzealous” (read: fanatical) shoppers before the store even opened, but the cops who responded to the incident lost interest when they realized they were dealing with a trans victim.
Tennessee Equality Project chairman Jonathan Cole relays what happened to Adonis — and the inaction by police that followed.
When store personnel unlocked the doors to the store, Akasha Adonis and her mother of Humboldt, TN made their way to one of four entrances where there was no line. As they were entering the store, a girl from another entrance where there was a line ran up to Akasha’s mother and another woman and attempted to ram through them into the store. When Akasha stepped between the girl and her mother to protect her, the girl jumped into Akasha’s face and began cussing at her. At the same moment, a man attacked Akasha and another woman at the entrance. The assailant hit Akasha and pulled out her hair as he pulled her through the door into the store. The man then shoved his hand in her mouth with his thumb, tore three of her teeth out of socket, and broke her jaw as he forced Akasha to the ground. The assailant then stood up and walked into the store to shop as Kohl’s staff stood idly by greeting other shoppers.
The other victim called the cops, and four Jackson police officers arrived on the scene. Everything was going fine, until Officer Ashley M. McCullar realized Adonis is trans. Adonis says:
When the officer first arrived on the scene and asked about the assault, he addressed me as she then asked for my i.d. and my name. [When] the officer saw that it was a male name, and I was a male to female transexual, he immediately changed his demeanor in how he treated me and the other witnesses. He rolled his eyes and turned his back to not look at me and said that he had ‘other places to be.’ There was no more conversation directed to me but to fellow officers and [other] people. He was short and rude/dismissive to witnesses and to the officers I was the ‘He not She.’ The officer told my mother that the case would take a few days to write up and he would get the surveillance tape and then walked away. In the officer report he put in that “the black male then defended himself and put Quick in his place.”
Adonis ended up needing oral surgery; none of her teeth could be saved and the total bill came to $6,000. But that’s not the end of the damage. When Adonis and her mother asked for a copy of the police report, they noticed crucial information missing.
The report given to Akasha omits a statement collected from an “unknown witness” cited in a separate section of the report recording the observations of Officer McCullar. The Officer recorded that the unknown witness said “Quick was outside in line and became upset with the black male subject and Quick then threw the first punch, the black male then defended him self and put Quick in his place.” It appears that Officer McCullar is witholding part of the report that may shed light on whether the officer was recording his own transgender bias or that of the unknown witness. The other witness was the other woman attacked by the assailant at the entrance.
When asked why the cops hadn’t pulled the Kohl’s surveillance tape, the department responded that it needed a subpoena; Kohl’s tells Adonis the police are welcome to a copy of the tape. They just need to ask.
And in a report given to the Jackson Sun about Black Friday madness, the police clearly minimized the reality of the situation:
Jackson police said two people got into a fight at that department store [Kohl’s] sometime before its 3 a.m. scheduled opening. Police said one person was socked in the mouth, but there were no serious injuries.
In a comment left on the article, a user with the handle “IworkatKohls” writes: “To clear this up because I actually was the one to stop the fight, It was a sheman so technically it really wasn’t a woman.” Well then. Carry on? (NB: When Adonis’ mother posted about the incident on Facebook, another person claiming to be a Kohl’s employee insisted in a since-deleted comment: “no it happened before I got there. i got there at 5 AM. they said it was a guy and a guy dressed up as a woman . they said the he/she/it got its wig knocked off and some teeth knocked out.”)
As it stands, Adonis and her mother have filed a formal complaint against the officer handling their case. And in a follow up story filed today, the Jackson Sun describes the incident as a “scuffle” but does say the cops have reviewed the security tape.
Capt. Thom Corley with the Jackson Police Department confirmed Adonis filed a citizen’s complaint against the officer on Thursday. Corley said the complaint was listed as a courtesy complaint. Complaints about an officer being rude or the manner in which they treat someone are usually handled by the officer’s supervisor, Corley said. The complaint is thoroughly investigated and dealt with, he said. Corley declined to release the police report filed in the incident because it is still under investigation. He said officers have viewed the video surveillance from Kohl’s and are investigating the incident. No arrests have been made.
Will Adonis be pursuing a more serious civil rights complaint against Officer McCullar and the Jackson Police Department? Says TEP chairman Cole: “She is seriously considering a lot of different options.”
Oh my gosh, I know this girl…
Akasha, you sue the shit out of all parties involved! Hit them were it really hurts these lowlifes. And, I hope that sad, sorry, poor excuse for a human ‘cop’ loses his job.
Akasha, you are beautiful, and you always will be. Don’t let them stop you. You have to stop them! Because that’s what truly strong people do.
Upset with the cop and not the assailant or the department store? Why/what is this?
@Michael: Michael, the cops are responsible for investigating crimes, not the victims. Negligence prevents justice and must be dealt with.
Since the crime happened at Kohl’s, the store should be sued to cover damages and legal costs.
Sweet weeping Jesus! Akasha, I hope they catch the bastard who hurt you and that the asshole cop who’s stonewalling you loses his badge and gets to share a cell with your attacker! Get a good lawyer with experience with these kinds of cases and go for the jugular! You deserve justice!
@Michael: Because the cop is responsible for investigating the crime. Obviously everyone involved is/should be upset at the assailant (the store, I’m not so sure…they’re a retail establishment, not a law enforcement entity). But when people are the victims of crimes, they have the right to expect an adequate and respectful police response and investigation. Akasha didn’t get one.
@Evan: Nah, something is not adding up here. Teeth and hair ripped out and jaw broken in front of a line of people and no witnesses? No blood? No ambulance called? Tell me what I’m missing.
This is why she’s complaining about the officer:
@Michael: Did you notice where this happened? Tennessee! It isn’t the friendliest of places towards Trans-people and has had exposed mistakes with other investigations involving trans and gay people. While things may not add up for you I certainly see this as possible. I’m not one to paint all cops in a bad light as there are a great deal that are upstanding and respectful. Yet, when a cop in a socially-backwards state doesn’t like a Trans person, this sort of reaction isn’t surprising at all. Also, considering how the GLBT community in itself seems to be a little Transphobic, it should be no shock at all that this kind of treatment happened.
The cop is the focus because his “lack of interest” in the case due to the victim’s conflicting gender identity is hindering justice! Did you not read that it seemed crucial witness statements were left out of the report? SHOCKER!!! Not all cops are straight-arrows… corruption IS NOT something exclusive to the movies. Don’t be so niave, sugar. That shade of ignorance doesn’t become you.
@~R~: The story is improbable. I’m going to guess she was in line with hundreds of people. Odd that not one sole came to her aid in this fracas. Why did she not go store management when the doors opened at 3:00 AM? She didn’t go to the emergency room, yet the injuries described are quite serious. Nobody called for an ambulance? If this did happen as she says, it’s a litigator’s dream case. A lawyer would represent her under a contingency fee arrangement. Simply way too much missing here. Plus, I’m getting a bit tired of people saying things like; “oh, Tennessee, no wonder,” or, “Texas, what do you expect.” Every time I see such arrogance, I immediately know the writer has never stepped foot in the state. This type thing happens everywhere. California and New York are no more “enlightened” than anywhere else.
@Michael: Sorry to be an exception to your rule: I lived in Tennessee for a while before moving to a much more gay friendly locale. The tension i felt when I lived there was incomparable to anywhere else I’ve been and I served in the military. Of course, I lived in a small Bible Thumping town which certainly made things all the more interesting.
As for the other things you point out: People in large groups are STUPID! Mob mentality takes over quickly. Tunnel vision was the order of the day and you best believe no act of violence is going to divert the majority of the peoples attention away from their purpose: to get those deals! This is why I avoid Black Friday at all costs. Desperation fuels the dispicable nature in people and a great deal of people in these black friday events are desperate for money saving deals 9can’t blame them, but I don’t think a 50% off price-tag is worth some one dying after being trampled). Also, it is never clearly stated whether an ambulence was called or not: the article isn’t focusing on things like that as most of its attention is focused on the ill treatment the victim recieved from the officer. Regardless of who caused what… with the magnatude of what happened: SOMEBODY should have been escorted off the premises in handcuffs as this action proves they are a menace to other shoppers. If it was the victim at fault, so be it. The COLD truth that you overlook is that NO ONE was arrested! This sends the message that violence at these gatherings is ok. Screw the whole queer slant to it. That is between her and the cop. What I really want to know is WHY the cop allowed the assailant, the (alleged) victim(s), or anyone else involved continue on as if this was just a routing thing! It isn’t! It isn’t acceptable! The cop failed, no matter from which angle or through what color lenses you chose to view his from.
@~R~: Well, the article states the assailant, a black man, walked in the store to shop after the alleged occurrence. There were four officers on the scene. Were they all bad cops? The entire sale-frenzied crowd was totally oblivious and uncaring, as was the management at Kohl’s? If all of Tennessee is rotten as you depict, what would white cops have done in your Tennessee town with a report of a black man assailing a white woman? Again, a lot is missing here.
@Michael: “White woman”. I can easily imagine a straight black man being higher on a crooked white cop’s moral pyramid than a transgendered person.
And crowds of people *have* just stood and stared while crimes have been committed and peopled killed even!
Deliberate apathy or indifference by police is a problem I’ve had to deal with often. Filing a complaint does get results, but it doesn’t get police assistance for the original problem. To paraphrase #12 Syl, many cops would defend a criminal before they helped an innocent queer. It’s not even crooked cops, or white cops, but any cop who doesn’t respect lgbt citizens and views them as second class. Too many cops think they have a monopoly on security. That they get to decide who gets protection and justice.
If someone is going to be a block, the only thing to do is step over them.
People just watch (and join in) all the time. Educate yourself.
@Patty: Horrors! Look where that happened – California! For every story like that, there’s two of people doing the right thing. Don’t be petty. If Akasha has a case, she should get an attorney. Unless somebody comes forward with better facts, not much else to be said.
@Michael: Love, after seeing your progressive line of grasping at straws to play devil’s advocate, I’m starting to think you really have nothing relevant to offer but smoke…
@Michael: Yeah, I agree with ~R~ — you’re not contributing anything.
Also agree with ~R~ about mob mentality; it’s sometimes called the Bystander Effect and it happens all the time:
“Bystander Effect” on Wikipedia
“More than 20 people passed as homeless NY man bled to death”
“Woman allegedly raped in St. Paul as bystanders look on”
I lived in Tennessee from birth until 26 yoa. I worked in law enforcement in the area this took place for all those adult years. It does happen. I will say not all officers treat people this way. I would like to say most do not, but I am not comfortable with that. I will say some are true advocates of justice. I have personally seen and heard police officers make jokes and dismiss the complaints of LGBT individuals. It happens a lot. If you do not believe this, you need to pull your head out of the sand. I know many officers from the Jackson area, and I have great respect for those officers. However, I know this bigotry is very present in that area. It doesn’t usually make it on the news or in the papers, but make no mistake. Homophobia and homo hatred is alive and well in Tennessee. The only way change will ever come is if a national spotlight is thrown on the issue.
Wow this is my ex girlfriend. Damn that’s sad….
Damn I used to date her too
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