After a 12-hour armed standoff in Texas, a transgender woman was arrested and placed in jail. However, when a special request was made because of the suspect’s transgender status, the chief deputy of the Bell County Sheriff’s Office gave an unmistakable response.
Although Harker Heights isn’t a city known for making headlines, the sleepy Texas town was wide awake after one of its transgender citizens prompted a 12-hour standoff with local police. Justin D. Robison, 39 — also known as Arial Robison — gave officers a run for their money and desperately tried to provoke them into a fatal outcome.
Robison made a heartwrenching plea on social media, claiming, “I wanted to die, suicide by cop,” adding, “I don’t want to hurt anyone,” the Killeen Daily Herald reports. Sadly, the suicidal ideations soon manifested in a particularly disturbing way.
During an online confession, Robison admitted to discharging a firearm three times — once at the ground and twice at a brick wall. When police were called out to perform a welfare check on the individual, things quickly escalated. Robison fired multiple shots from an AR-15 inside the home until a SWAT team finally breached the house and apprehended the suspect.
Robison was charged with first-degree felony aggravated assault on a public servant and booked on a $200,000 bond. Despite identifying as a female, the suspect was housed with biological male inmates. When the media heard of this alleged social injustice, they immediately questioned Bell County Jail. However, the answer they received certainly wasn’t what anyone expected.
In response to the uproar over Robison being housed with inmates who are biological males, Chief Deputy Chuck Cox unapologetically explained that suspects are placed based solely on their physical anatomy and not how they feel or with whom they want to be booked.
“Inmates are processed based on their actual sex at the time they arrive here and not what they say they want to be,” Cox said. “It is our policy to keep all inmates safe regardless of who they are.”
While the media were raising questions concerning possible discrimination against transgender inmates, the Harker Heights police chief praised his officers and other emergency responders. He reminded the public that their actions are to thank for presumably saving Robison’s life.
“The peaceful outcome was a result of the excellent job of our negotiators, joint SWAT team (Belton-Harker Heights), patrol officers, firefighter medics, and the cooperation and partnership of our great citizens of Harker Heights,” said Chief Phil Gadd. “It’s a great day when the resolution of a serious incident ends with no one hurt or killed and every police officer gets to go home and be with their families. We’re dedicated to … providing public services that empower people to focus on what matters most: their goals, hopes and dreams.”
Robison is a U.S. Army veteran who served 10 years but was not deployed. Robinson reached the rank of specialist a year before being discharged. The military referred to Robison as Justin Robison.
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 40 percent of individuals who identify as transgender has attempted suicide. Sadly, studies show almost no improvement in suicidal tendencies after these individuals undergo sex-change surgery.
Chief Deputy Cox has reiterated that Robison was housed with biological males for the safety of all inmates under his responsibility. Cox believes that it’s far too risky for female inmates to be housed with biological males.
It’s a seemingly noble goal, but we must consider what is “equal and fair” for all inmates, not just the ones who identify themselves as transgender. Now that the media are involved, a discrimination lawsuit is almost inevitable.