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Teen Pleads Not Guilty to Hate Crime in Killing of Gay Dancer Who Was Voguing to Beyoncé

Teen Pleads Not Guilty to Hate Crime in Killing of Gay Dancer Who Was Voguing to Beyoncé

Teen Pleads Not Guilty to Hate Crime in Killing of Gay Dancer Who Was Voguing to Beyoncé
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The district attorney called murder of O'Shae Sibley, which is being prosecuted as a hate crime, "tragic and senseless."

The case against the killer of gay Black man O'Shae Sibley moved forward as the teenager accused of the fatal stabbing pleaded not guilty in court on Friday.

Dmitriy Popov, the 17-year-old alleged killer, was indicted by a grand jury this week and has been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon in the murder of Sibley, who was killed while dancing with friends at a New York City gas station.

Popov is being tried as an adult and is facing up to 25 years to life in prison for the alleged crimes. The hate crime enhancement could potentially raise any minimum sentence from 15 to 20 years.

According to security footage, Sibley was killed on July 29 after being taunted by a group of men, including Popov, in the parking lot of a Brooklyn gas station where he and his friends were voguing to Beyoncé's music while getting gas. After the two groups argued, Popov allegedly stabbed Sibley in the ribs with a knife, damaging his heart.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said the 28-year-old professional dancer was “dancing joyfully” and “harming no one” and called the crime both “tragic and senseless” at a press conference on August 11.

Gonzalez went on to say that the men demanded that O’Shae and his friends stop dancing and used “anti-Black, homophobic slurs.”

“This entire community, and I’m talking primarily about the gay and queer communities of our country, feel particularly vulnerable at this moment in time,” the district attorney said, pointing to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation as “increasing rhetoric of hate towards this community.”

Justice Craig S. Walker ordered that Popov continue to be held without bail at a juvenile detention center while awaiting trial. The teen will return to court on October 10.

Popov’s defense attorney, Mark Pollard, said he might pursue a self-defense argument at trial, the New York Times reports. He went on to say that the security footage shows that his client was recording what was happening and moving backward as he was approached by people who were older and larger than he is.

“He regrets what happens, he certainly does,” Pollard said. “But that doesn’t mean that he’s guilty of a crime. It’s two different things.”

Sibley was part of a tight-knit group of dancers who worked and practiced together and would meet to vogue at Pier 46 on the Hudson River, reports the Times.

As a way to honor Sibley, who was killed for voguing to Beyoncé's Renaissance album, the pop star’s website posted the message “Rest in Power O’Shae Sibley” after his death.

Screengrab via Beyoncé.com

Mourners also gathered at the Stonewall Inn, and at a memorial called “Vogue as an Act of Resistance,” people chanted and danced at the same gas station where the dancer was fatally stabbed.

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