Transgender Woman's Death Investigated as Hate Crime

PHOTO: Islan Nettles

The death of a transgender woman in New York is being investigated as a bias crime, according to the New York City Police Department.

Islan Nettles, 21, died of "blunt impact injuries to the head" according to a spokesperson for the New York City Chief Medical Examiner. The death has been ruled a homicide.

Nettles was attacked in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan last weekend. She slipped into a coma after the attack and was taken off life support on Thursday.

Nettles' mother Delores Nettles told ABC station WABC-TV, that before the attack a group of men surrounded the 21-year-old and called her derogatory names including "he-shes" and "she-males."

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Paris Wilson, 20, was arrested at the scene of the crime on a charge of assault, but could face additional charges. The case was turned over to the New York City Hate Crimes Task Force as a possible bias crime after investigators were made aware of the reported insults.

There has been a significant increase in reported bias crimes in New York City this year, with 68 alleged crimes reported so far this year. In 2012 there were a total of 54 reported attacks.

According to The Associated Press, detectives were investigating whether Wilson had propositioned Nettles before the attack.

Delores Nettles told WABC-TV she hoped additional charges would be brought against Islan's alleged assailants.

"This person beat my baby with his bare hands to death and I don't feel that person should walk the streets because my baby can't walk," she said. "He couldn't even tell me he loved me, I will never hear that again."

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Wilson, who was released on bail, does not have a number listed and could not be reached for comment.

New York City mayoral candidates Bill De Blasio and Christine Quinn, the city's first openly gay City Council speaker, denounced the attack.

"An attack against one person, or one community, is an assault against all New Yorkers," Quinn said in a joint statement with other council members. "We ask all New Yorkers to come together, to embrace our differences and to denounce hate violence."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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