Teen Arrested in Killing of Transgender Sundance Star Koko Da Doll

Rasheeda Williams known as Koko Da Doll (Credit: Go Fund Me)

Atlanta police have arrested a 17-year-old male in connection with the shooting death of Koko Da Doll, a transgender woman featured in the award-winning Sundance documentary Kokomo City.

Jermarcus Jernigan turned himself in on April 26, and was taken into custody at the Fulton County Jail without incident, the Atlanta Police Department said in a news release Thursday.

The arrest came after “homicide detectives were able to establish probable cause and secure arrest warrants for murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony,” police said.

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Investigators suspect the teenager in the fatal shooting of Rasheeda Williams, who went by the stage name Koko Da Doll.

Williams was found suffering from a gunshot wound around 10:42 pm in the 2400 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SW on April 18. She “was not alert, conscious or breathing” and was pronounced deceased on the scene, according to police.

Williams starred in Kokomo City, which screened at Sundance in January. The documentary chronicles the lives of four Black transgender sex workers, and it won two awards at the festival — the NEXT Innovator Award and the NEXT Audience Award.

Police did not immediately identify the shooting victim, but the film’s director D. Smith shared news of Williams’ death in an Instagram post.

“Rasheeda Williams was shot and killed in Atlanta. Rasheeda, aka Koko Da Doll, was the latest victim of violence against Black transgender women,” the post said. “I created Kokomo City because I wanted to show the fun, humanized, natural side of Black trans women. I wanted to create images that didn’t show the trauma or the statistics of murder of transgender lives. I wanted to create something fresh and inspiring. I did that. We did that! But here we go again.”

“It’s extremely difficult to process Koko’s passing, but as a team we are more encouraged now than ever to inspire the world with her story. To show how beautiful and full of life she was. She will inspire generations to come and will never be forgotten,” Smith added.

A GoFundMe page set up to cover Williams’ funeral expenses said she “cherished” her friends and family, and “chased her dreams.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least nine transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed in the U.S. this year. Most of them were Black.