Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

Defense misgenders
trans assault victim

NEWS


s.hemmelgarn@ebar.com

Samantha Hulsey was misgendered by defense attorneys. Photo: Courtesy ABC7
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As the couple accused of attacking a transgender woman in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood pleaded not guilty recently, the attorneys representing them repeatedly misgendered the victim.

Dewayne Kemp, 36, and Rebecca Westover, 42, face charges including assault, along with hate crime enhancements, for allegedly attacking Samantha Hulsey near the Holiday Inn at 50 Eighth Street November 15. Kemp and Westover have said the incident started when Hulsey intentionally bumped into them and called Kemp the N-word.

During their arraignment Friday, November 20 – Transgender Day of Remembrance – Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof, who's representing Kemp, and Murray Zisholz, Westover's court-appointed attorney, referred to Hulsey as a man after they entered not guilty pleas on their clients' behalf and as they tried unsuccessfully to get them released.

In court Thursday, Maloof explained how Kemp had allegedly been trying to defend his fiancee. He said Hulsey is 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighs 217 pounds, and was "legally a male swinging at a female."

"When you have a man, I don't care if he identifies as a man or not ... you're a man," he said. "You can't swing at a woman like that."

Maloof, who said Hulsey has admitted hitting Westover, added, "I don't care if that man is wearing a dress or not. ... He's stronger, he's larger, and he's taller."

Zisholz made similar remarks, saying the "alleged victim is a male" who's "stronger, taller, and heavier" than Westover. He said his client's actions were "reactive in a self-defense manner," and Hulsey was a "male" who was "assaulting a female."

Assistant District Attorney Blair McGregor criticized the defense's use of "cisgender privilege" in repeatedly referring to her as a man and said Hulsey is "female gendered."

Asked outside the courtroom about how people in the transgender community would likely be horrified at his comments regarding Hulsey's gender, Maloof said, "They can be horrified if they want."

She's "bigger" and "stronger," he said, and whether she identifies as male or not doesn't make a difference.

"Unless he's had an operation," Maloof added, Hulsey is still a man. He also said that "Samantha" is not Hulsey's legal name, and she has a male name instead.

 

Incident details

McGregor said the November 15 incident started when "transphobic comments" were shouted, including "faggots," and "you are not women, you are men."

He said Kemp punched Hulsey four times in the nose, leaving injuries that police documented, and yelled, "faggots, you are sick-ass motherfuckers."

Maloof's account of what happened largely matches what Kemp and Westover told the Bay Area Reporter last week in separate interviews.

They said they'd been walking down the street when Hulsey, who was with another transgender woman, intentionally bumped into them.

When Kemp questioned her, she called him the N-word, Kemp said. He said he called her a "fag."

Westover said she threw coffee at Hulsey, and Hulsey punched her. Kemp then punched Hulsey repeatedly, and she swung back, he said. Westover said she also hit Hulsey.

Video shows a cab driver getting out of his car and, without knowing what had started the incident, swinging his belt at Kemp, Maloof said.

McGregor said Kemp told the man, "You fucking [N-word], you want to swing a belt at me? I will fucking kill you."

Maloof acknowledged that Kemp had made "a statement" toward the man.

He also said that his client had made his statements "out of anger" after being called the N-word and seeing his fiance attacked, indicating the remarks had not been made "because of [Hulsey's] sexual orientation."

When police arrived at the scene, Maloof said, Kemp and Westover approached them, and Kemp immediately told police he wanted to file charges. Officers separated everyone, he said, and Kemp and Westover gave identical statements.

Reached by phone this week, Hulsey said she wasn't available to talk. She didn't respond to a subsequent phone message.

 

Histories

Maloof said of Kemp, "his priors are not pretty," but he'd been "trying very hard to stay straight" and had been "doing good."

McGregor said Kemp's previous convictions include battery of a spouse or significant other and robbery.

Court documents indicate that Kemp recently pleaded no contest to a count of possession of a controlled substance in exchange for other charges being dropped.

In his recent interview with the B.A.R. , Kemp said he was once convicted for an assault on a police officer in Sacramento. (He said the officer had choked him.) He became aggravated when asked for details of the incident, and refused to discuss his prior record further.

Westover's criminal history includes a robbery conviction.

Citing the defendants' histories and there being no mention in the police report of witnesses seeing anyone else as the aggressor, Superior Court Judge Edward Torpoco, who expressed a desire to move Friday's lengthy hearing along, declined to release Kemp or Westover. City records list their bail as $623,000 and $373,000, respectively.

Torpoco also granted protective orders for Hulsey and the cab driver, who also was allegedly victimized in the incident.

Both defendants appeared in court in handcuffs Friday. Neither commented on the case, although Westover wept through much of her appearance.

Their next court dates were set for Wednesday, November 25 for a prehearing conference and Wednesday, December 2 for a preliminary hearing.

November 25 was also when another man accused of attacking Hulsey earlier this year was expected to get a preliminary hearing.

In that case, which stems from January, Brodes Joynes, 55, allegedly tried to fatally stab Hulsey and called her and her then-partner "faggots" in an incident that started on a Muni bus. Hulsey was 24 at the time.






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