A Black transgender woman was found dead in a parking lot in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, on the morning of December 27, the county coroner told Gay City News.
Police have identified the victim as 40-year-old Kimberly Patricia Cope. Coroner Sonny Wilson, who misgendered the victim during a call with Gay City News, said a woman found Cope’s body while she was walking her dog in front of a Raising Canes Chicken Fingers at 795 Baxter Street in Athens.
Wilson said there were no initial signs of foul play, but explained that the outcome of the investigation “depends on what the autopsy tells.”
According to the Georgia Voice, Cope was misgendered in the city’s police report. At the time of her death, Wilson said Cope was wearing “lady’s sleepwear.” Local police did not immediately return Gay City News’ requests for comment on January 4.
The victim’s friends told officers they saw a person in a white SUV pull up and speak with Cope, the Georgia Voice, reported. It’s unknown whether or not she got in the vehicle. However, Classic City News — a news outlet based in Athens, Georgia — reported that when friends looked outside again, “Kimberly no longer was in sight.” Classic City News reported that the victim’s friends last saw her between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Police are still investigating Cope’s death. Her body was transported on January 4 to undergo an autopsy at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s State Crime Lab, Wilson said.
Cope’s case contributes to a growing death toll of Black and Latinx transgender women in the nation. Among other recent cases include the murder of Courtney “Eshay” Key, a Black transgender woman who was killed on Christmas Day. Earlier that month, Bella Pugh, a gender-non-conforming teenager, was killed at a Christmas party in Prichard, Alabama, near Mobile.
The Human Rights Campaign, which closely tracks deadly violence facing transgender individuals, reported that 2020 was the deadliest on record for the trans community, with at least 43 known victims of violent fatalities.
To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit gaycitynews.com/newsletter.