Koko Da Doll Kokomo City
A still from Kokomo City courtesy of Sundance.

Koko Da Doll, a trans woman who starred in D. Smith’s Sundance documentary Kokomo City, has been shot and killed in Atlanta, Georgia — and her death is the latest example of violence against Black transgender women, Smith says.

The Atlanta Police Department said that Koko, who also went by Rasheeda Williams, was found with a gunshot wound in Atlanta a little before 11 p.m. on Tuesday and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Variety. She was 35.

Koko was a trans sex worker who became a breakout star at this year’s Sundance Film Festival after appearing in Kokomo City, which won both the NEXT Audience and Innovator awards.

The documentary, which was D. Smith’s directorial debut, followed Koko along with three other Black, trans sex workers living in Atlanta and New York City.

Koko Da Doll Is ‘The Latest Victim of Violence Against Black Transgender Women’

Smith mourned Koko Da Doll in a statement to Variety:

“On Tuesday night, Rasheeda Williams was shot and killed in Atlanta. Rasheeda, aka Koko Da Doll, was the latest victim of violence against Black transgender women. 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!” Smith said in the statement.

“But here we are 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.”

The Atlanta Police Department acknowledged the rise in violence against the LGBTQ+ community in a press release following Koko’s death, noting that it is “investigating three violent crimes involving transgender women this year. While these individual incidents are unrelated, we are very aware of the epidemic-level violence against Black and brown transgender women in America.”

According to Variety, Kokomo City is eyeing a wide theatrical release later this year through distributor Magnolia Pictures.

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“Shot in striking black and white, the boldness of the facts of these women’s lives and the earthquaking frankness they share complicate this enterprise, colliding the every day with cutting social commentary and the excavation of long-dormant truths,” reads the film’s description on the Sundance website.

“Sharing reflections on knotty desire, far-reaching taboo, identification in labor, and gender’s many meanings, these women offer an unapologetic and cutting analysis of Black culture and society at large from a vantage point that is vibrating with energy, sex, challenge, and hard-earned wisdom.”

Koko’s death comes just three months after the star shared a message of hope for new opportunities the documentary would bring to members of the trans community.

“I will be the reason there’s more opportunities and doors opening for transgender girls,” Koko wrote on Instagram in late January. “What you’ve done here for me is going to save a lot of lives.”

Main Image: A still from Kokomo City, courtesy of Sundance.

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