“Kokomo City” star Koko Da Doll, age 35, has been shot and killed.
Koko, also known as Rasheeda Williams, was a Black trans sex worker whose story was captured in the 2023 Sundance documentary, helmed by Grammy-nominated D. Smith. She was found with a gunshot wound in southwest Atlanta April 18 and pronounced dead at the scene.
“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,” Smith said in a statement (via Variety). “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 are again.”
Smith continued, “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.”
“Kokomo City” follows four Black trans sex workers living in Atlanta and New York City as they confront the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves, as well as the persistent threat of violence they face each day, per the official synopsis. The documentary debuted at Sundance in January and is executive produced by Lena Waithe. The film was acquired by Magnolia Pictures and is set for a theatrical release in late 2023.
The Sundance Film Festival shared a social media tribute to Williams, writing, “We are saddened to hear about the death of Rasheeda Williams aka Koko Da Doll. We were honored to have her at the festival this year with ‘Kokomo City,’ where she reminded Black trans women, ‘We can do anything, we can be whatever we want to be.’ It is a tragic loss.”
The Atlanta Police Department shared in a statement that they are “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.”
Williams’ “Kokomo City” co-star Daniella Carter captioned an Instagram video to remember Williams.
“Never thought I’d lose you, but here I am standing alone without you by my side,” Carter wrote. “We’re sisters for life we promised, but now you’re gone I don’t know what to do without you. I’m going crazy, I’m trying to hold on to keep strong, but it just doesn’t feel right I’m waiting here my arms wide open, tears running down my face, ready for you to return even if it takes forever my sister. I will truly miss you sis.”
Fellow star Dominique Silver added, “My sister you are gone but you will never be forgotten! I am struggling right now to grasp the fact that we just spoke and now you aren’t here by my side! We will get justice for you and please protect Black trans women at all cost!”
“Kokomo City” star Liyah Mitchell also shared, “I’m still in disbelief. U deserved more. I’m sry u were born in a hateful world that didn’t understand you. #Justice4Koko.”