Man arrested in death of transgender woman Muhlaysia Booker

Clay Curtis
June 15, 2019

Dallas police have arrested a man in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Muhlaysia Booker, a transgender woman whose death has brought renewed national attention to the perils faced by the black LGBTQ community.

Transgender rights activists protest the recent killings of three transgender women, Muhlaysia Booker, Claire Legato, and Michelle Washington, during a rally at Washington Square Park in NY on May 24.

Kendrell Lavar Lyles has been charged with three counts of murder, police said.

Police said Lyles drove a light coloured Lincoln LS, a vehicle that matches the description of the one Booker was seen getting into prior to her death.

Mobile phone analysis indicated he had been in the area where she was picked up as well as at the scene of her murder, the police statement said.

He is also charged with the May 22 murder of a woman, after detectives say they received a tip from the public.

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Kendrell Lyles, 34, shot to death Muhlaysia Booker on May 18, a woman on May 22 and a man on May 23, police Major Max Geron said. Police did not release those victims' names. Black transgender women were most often targeted.

Lyles was also named as a person of interest in the death of another black transgender woman, 26-year-old Chynal Lindsay, whose body was found in a Dallas lake less than a month after Booker's murder.

Desperate for answers, police have called on the FBI to help with their investigation. After determining that Lyles was responsible for the murder, an warrant was issued and Lyles was arrested on June 5, 2019.

The Dallas Police department now has four active murder investigations involving black transgender victims, with the oldest unsolved case dating back to 2015. Police have said that no evidence was found to link Booker's death to her April 12 beating following a minor traffic accident. "The reason for the shooting is still unknown at this point", Geron said. Booker suffered a concussion, fractured wrist and other injuries, police said.

Mr Thomas was charged with aggravated assault, but denies using homophobic language during the attack. The Human Rights Campaign notes the vast majority of the reported 128 transgender people killed between 2013 and 2018 were women of color.

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