Transgender Woman Dies After Assault in Harlem: Police

The 21-year-old woman was apparently assaulted after the suspect learned she was transgender

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013  |  Updated 8:29 AM EDT
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Transgender Woman Dies After Assault in Harlem: Police

Islan Nettles (inset) was assaulted in Harlem, then died of her injuries days later, police say.

The death of a transgendered woman who was assaulted by a group of men in Harlem Saturday night has been ruled a homicide and is being investigated as a possible hate crime, police say. 

The 21-year-old woman, Islan Nettles, died of blunt impact injuries to the head, the medical examiner's office determined Friday. 

Nettles, who also goes by Vaughn Nettles and Alon Nettles, was out with a friend, another transgender woman, when they met a group of men near 148th Street and Eighth Avenue, according to police. 

The two groups began arguing, apparently after the men realized the victims were transgender, police said. One man made anti-gay remarks and a physical altercation ensued. 

The victim was taken to the hospital with injuries, and died Thursday after spending several days on a ventilator, police said. 

A 20-year-old man was arrested in connection with the investigation. His role in the assault, if any, was not immediately clear. 

No hate crime charges have yet been filed, but the Manhattan District Attorney's hate crimes division and the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force were both investigating. 

After a series of anti-gay attacks in the spring, including the fatal shooting of a man in Greenwich Village, thousands rallied to denounce the violence. Last week, a gay couple was attacked while leaving a movie theater in Chelsea. 

-- Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report. 

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