NEW YORK — A transgender woman attacked last weekend in Harlem has died in a case police said they are now investigating as a hate crime after learning that the man accused of hitting her may have used antigay epithets.
The victim, Islan Nettles, 21, was declared brain-dead from her injuries Thursday and was later taken off life support at Harlem Hospital Center. She had been admitted after the attack early last Saturday, hospital officials said.
A spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office said Friday the death had been ruled a homicide and the cause was “blunt force trauma.”
Nettles was walking with a group of transgender friends when they encountered several men on the street. When the men concluded Nettles and her friends were transgender, a scuffle broke out, police said, with punches thrown and homophobic slurs shouted.
A 20-year-old Harlem man, Paris Wilson, was arrested late Saturday and charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment. It wasn’t until a witness told police that homophobic language had been used that they realized the confrontation might have involved bias. The Police Department’s hate crimes task force is now investigating the case.
new york times