Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said watching the tape "made me sick" and "infuriated" him. He said he immediately notified the FBI and asked them to investigate whether Johnson's civil rights were violated. Federal investigators, we hope, will also look into the incident as a possible hate crime.[...]
The Shelby County Sheriff's Office, meanwhile, is intent on finding out how the videotape was leaked to an attorney. That's all well and good, but we trust they have been just as diligent investigating why their jail personnel didn't intervene.
Indeed, we also know that the Police Director refuses to acknowledge this as an institutional problem and did little to punish the officers involved until the tape was leaked. Now that everyone can see what happened to Ms. Johnson they're pushing the "a few bad apples" narrative - a clear attempt to shield the department from substantive change.
So how can we trust them to investigate this case properly? Here we have another African American transwoman whose body was found near a strip club (they're going to presume sex work, of course, even though the body could have been moved or she might have been in the neighborhood for another reason)... it's sounding like there are a lot of good reasons to believe that the Memphis police will ignore this one.
"We consider these two recent crimes, combined with the still unsolved murder of another African American transgender woman, Tiffany Berry on February 16, 2006, to be totally unacceptable," said Marisa Richmond, president of TTPC. "The lack of response by the Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County to the beating of Duanna Johnson has set a tone in the community that the lives of transgender people, especially African American transwomen, are irrelevant."
They're building up quite a reputation down there in Memphis. Whether or not this was a hate crime, people who think that they can get away with crimes against trans folk because the police won't investigate probably aren't too far from the truth.