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9.26.2011

d.c. death ruled a homicide

Earlier this month in Washington D.C., 35-year-old aeronautical engineer Gaurav Gopalan was found dead in Columbia Heights. At the time, authorities didn't know who he was, and he remained unidentified for several days. And with no significant visible trauma, police didn't even know whether he was a victim of a crime.

But last week, the D.C. Office of the Medical Examiner ruled Gopalan's death a homicide, saying he died from a "sub-arachnoid hemorrhage" -- bleeding in the brain -- "due to blunt-impact head trauma": Death of man found in Columbia Heights ruled a homicide.

His murder is unsettling enough, but here's the part that's got people really worried. While little information has been released on the case, it's been reported that Gopalan was found dead dressed in women's clothing. After a series of attacks on members of the transgender community this summer, D.C.'s LGBT is understandably on edge:
After a series of attacks on members of the transgender community this summer, D.C.'s LGBT community has been on edge. Some have also been critical of the Metropolitan Police Department's response to the attacks, saying the department hasn't taken decisive action on Gopalan's case and others, in part because of "a culture of transphobia" in the city's police force, something the department denies.

Gopalan, an aeronautical engineer and beloved member of D.C.'s theater community, was found dead dressed in women's clothing on 11th Street NW near Fairmont Street. Medical examiners have ruled that he died of blunt-force trauma to the head. Thus far, little information has been released on the case.

Graham told those assembled Sunday night that he knows the lack of information is unsettling, but assured them that the police investigation is proceeding.

Still, Gopalan's partner of nearly five years, Bob Schaffer, is frustrated and told the crowd to keep pressuring the MPD: "Please, please, please, get on the police."
Concerned community members are calling on folks to put pressure on the Metropolitan Police Department to respond to these attacks. More here: Gaurav Gopalan Murder: LGBT Community, Friends Remember Slain Theater Director At Dupont Vigil.

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