Phoenix police released surveillance video this week they say could help catch the killer of a transgender woman murdered in August.
On August 11, the last images of 35-year-old Kandis Capri were captured on a Phoenix convenience store camera as she walked outside in the parking lot.
Wearing a striped dress with a silver purse tossed over her shoulder, Capri began to enter the store. A black man in a baseball cap and a number 23 Chicago Bulls Jersey trailed closely behind her.
Capri moved to open the glass door but suddenly paused and glanced at the man before turning and walking away. The man slowly followed Capri out of the camera's view.
Police are calling the man an investigative lead and are asking for the public's help in identifying him. He is described as a black male in his early- to mid-20s with a thin to medium build.
Two months ago, Capri was shot multiple times in her front and back about 10:45 p.m. in an apartment complex parking lot near 45th Avenue and Thomas Road. She later died at a hospital.
A black man police believe was her killer was seen fleeing the parking lot as Capri was dying. At the scene, Capri’s purse and phone were missing.
The surveillance video was released as the murder investigation cooled in the last few weeks. There have been few viable leads.
Detectives have said little about the case. Capri's family didn't learn of the existence of the tape until this week. Capri’s mother, Adria Gaines, says she was relieved to learn there are clues that could lead to her child's killer.
“I felt good that . . . the video could possibly provide more information on who is responsible,” Gaines tells New Times. “I'm sure it is crucial to the investigation.”
Capri's death made her the 17th transgender person killed in the United States this year alone, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Since her death, three more transgender homicides have raised the total to 20. Like Capri, who is black, most of the murdered women were of color.
The most recent transgender woman to be killed is Kiesha Jenkins, 22, who was shot in the back and killed last week in Pennsylvania after an attack by a group of men.
“This is becoming an epidemic,” Gaines says. “Something needs to be done about this. These are definitely hate crimes.”
The transgender community's increased visibility, with celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner transitioning, unfortunately may put transgender people at risk of harassment, violence, and even murder, experts say.
“This is a moment of crisis, but it’s a moment rooted in a long history of violence, discrimination, abuse, and dismissal of transgender communities, particularly transgender communities of color,” says Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center. “Trans people of color are fighting for survival daily and have been for decades.”
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More than 500 mourners, including members of the transgender community, paid their respect at Capri's funeral. Born Dedrick Gaines, Capri began living as a female in 2012. She was close with her family and taking classes at South Mountain Community College. Those who knew her say she was kind and had a vivacious personality.
“Kandis was who you called the queen bee,” says Jodye Brown, a close friend of Capri’s who considered her like a sister. “She kept it real at all times. There will never be another Kandis Capri.”
Capri's family members long have called her murder a hate crime, pleading with the community and police for answers about her killer. There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in connection with the murder.
Police ask anyone with information regarding the man in the surveillance video to contact Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS or online at www.silentwitness.org.