Houston, TX – Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo apologized Friday at a victim’s vigil for a statement made by a Houston police detective earlier this week.
The statement was made by Houston Police Homicide Detective Phil Waters during a press conference on a homicide case Wednesday morning, Dec. 13.
During the press conference, Det. Waters called the murder victim, who was a transgender woman, a “black male, probably 20’s, dressed in women’s clothing.”
Houston’s LGBT community quickly responded to the incident, and called it morally wrong, according to KHOU.
The victim, Brandi Seals, 26, was found fatally shot in a driveway on Brandon Street.
Det. Waters said that they were speculating that somebody picked up Seals off of the street, and that Seals was murdered when the discovered “he’s not who he’s representing himself to be.”
A vigil for Seals was held on the steps of City Hall on Friday, and Chief Acevedo talked about Det. Waters’ statement.
Chief Acevedo apologized for the department’s lack of sensitivity.
On behalf of our entire police department,” Acevedo said, “We just wanted to express our condolences first and foremost to a member of the community that was taken so violently.”
“As insensitive as the officer’s comments were, I believe it was a mistake of the mind and not of the heart.” Chief Acevedo said.
He also said that the department will work with the Montrose Center to provide training for officers to better handle similar situations in the future.
The Montrose Center is an organization located in Houston whose mission is to “…empower our community, primarily lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and their families, to enjoy healthier and more fulfilling lives,” according to its website.
This incident was not the first time HPD ran afoul of the transgender community. A transgender man, Kris Smith, filed a $1 million lawsuit in 2016 against the city of Houston and the arresting officers in his case, according to Houston Chronicle.
Smith was arrested for trespassing at a Burger King, but the charge was later dismissed. In his lawsuit, he claimed he was insulted and treated unfairly by officers because he was transgender.