Rayquann Deonte Jernigan, 17, who went by the name Ava Le’Ray Barrin, was gunned down by another transgender in the parking lot of the Riverview Apartments on College Avenue.
A Superior Court judge dismissed all charges against 21-year-old Jalen Breon Brown, pictured left, after the judge determined that Brown was acting in self defense, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.
Police say neither Jernigan nor Brown lived in the apartment complex where the fight occurred. Brown was visiting other transgenders who lived at the complex when Jernigan showed up and said he wanted to fight Brown.
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Capt. Jerry Saulters, commanding officer of the Athens-Clarke County police Criminal Investigations Division, said Brown fired a “warning shot” near Jernigan before they both fought and fell down a flight of stairs.
At some point during the scuffle, Jernigan in a head lock and tried to wrestle the gun away when a shot rang out. Jernigan, pictured below, was shot in the chest and pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Brown claimed self defense, but Saulters said, “It did not hold up because he fired towards the victim prior to the fight, and a fight does not constitute deadly force,” Saulters said.
But the judge noted in his order to vacate the charges that Jernigan showed up to fight Brown.
Several transgender organizations, including one group based in England, released statements condemning the local newspapers for “misgendering” Jernigan by referring to him using male pronouns.
“What saddens and infuriates us as an organization that seeks to represent and empower black trans women is that Ava was just 17 years old and hadn’t even had a chance to follow her dreams yet,” Black Transwomen Inc. said in a statement. “Ava has become not only the 14th trans woman murdered in the U.S. in 2017, she unfortunately is now the youngest one killed this year. She is also the 12th African American trans person killed this year.”