Update: Eyewitness reports have questioned the version of events provided by police. Out has reported on those discrepancies here.
Wednesday evening around 20 to 30 people gathered lighting candles and holding flowers and posters to honor the life of Tony McDade. Social media has also been inundated with posts about McDade calling for justice after the 38-year-old-was shot and killed by Tallahassee Police. Organizations like the National Black Justice Coalition, Black Visions Collective, Equality Florida, and Basic Rights Oregon have all spoken out in what has increasingly become a complex story.
On Wednesday morning, McDade was one of two people left dead in Tallahassee at the Leon Arms Apartments according to WTXL. An unidentified man was stabbed in an altercation between himself and someone else who police suspected to be McDade, and later died from those injuries. Police then found McDade and alleged that he had a gun.
"The suspect then made a move consistent with using the firearm against the officer, who fired their issued handgun, fatally striking [McDade,]" the department wrote in a release. Some reports dispute whether McDade had a weapon while others say he had only a knife. The police, and some media, have misgendered McDade in their coverage of the incident.
"Adequate words do not exist to describe the weight of the pain that accompanies drafting statements to honor Black people who have been murdered as a result of who they are and how they show up in the world," the National Black Justice Coalition wrote in a release following the death. "It especially pains me to acknowledge when police officers who do not have a license to kill -- are implicated in the murder." The letter went on referencing other recent incidents of systemic racism that have resulted in the pain, trauma and/or death for Black folks. Most notably this involved the police killing of George Floyd who died from suffocation after a white police officer pinned him to the ground and ignored his pleas of not being able to breathe.
"It pains me to have learned about Tony McDade, who we understand was killed by a member of the Tallahassee Police Department yesterday morning," NBJC continued. "Tony, a Black trans man, is our brother."
Reports have revealed that prior to the fatal incident, McDade had uploaded a long video to his Facebook page. In it, he recounted being attacked by five men in what he called a racist and transphobic attack. He promised retribution for the attack.
"It's just Tony the Tiger all alone coming for your blood," McDade said in the post, "And after I get through killing you, I'm going to go back on live if I have the opportunity, because I will not be going back to prison." McDade was released from prison in January 2020 after a decade-long sentence on weapons charges.
In the video he said that he would have a "stand off" with police officers because he refused to be incarcerated again.
"I am killing and going to be killed because I will not go back into federal prison," McDade said.
The video may indicate that McDade intended for his death to be police-assisted suicide.
The case is reportedly the third officer-involved fatal shooting in Tallahassee in two months, and the 11th reported trans and/or GNC death of 2020. Equality Florida calls the state the "epicenter of anti-trans violence with seven Black transgender women having been murdered over the last two years."
"This tragic incident should be a reminder that hate crimes against Black LGBTQ/SGL people happen too frequently--often without the national public outcry that our cis and/or heteronormative brothers and sisters receive" NBJC wrote in its release. "In 2018 alone, over 1,500 hate crimes based on bias against someone's sexual orientation or gender identity were reported. And the violence is escalating. There was more than an 18 percent increase in these hate crimes from 2016 to 2018, and the FBI reports an 11 percent increase in anti-Black hate crimes during the same period."