NEW ORLEANS - Nearly five months after Brenisha Hall's death, friends and family finally have some answers.
The Orleans Parish Coroner's Office ruled Hall’s death a homicide Friday. Investigators say she died of complications from injections of a silicone-like substance.
The decision comes months after a local hospital ruled the 25-year-old transgender woman died of natural causes.
When Hall died in University Hospital on New Year’s Day, doctors did not treat it as part of a criminal investigation, and didn't contact Orleans Parish authorities.
Instead, doctors contacted Jefferson Parish authorities, because that's where hall lived.
Jefferson Parish gave the hospital the green light to do its own autopsy.
Orleans Parish law enforcement officials didn't realize hall had died until she was already buried.
The Orleans Parish Coroner's Office says since then, pathologists have poured through 10,000 pages of medical records, said spokesman John Gagliano.
The autopsy was done at University Hospital by a physician who worked with the Orleans Parish Coroner's Office in the past, said Gagliano, and the office has reviewed all medical records, samples, and the autopsy.
“Bree was desperate just like we all are desperate to embrace our femininity and to embody womanhood,” said Tela Love, an advocate for the transgender community who knew Hall well.
According to police, another transgender woman who goes by the name Armani Nicole Davenport, gave Hall the injections that would ultimately claim her life. Davenport is charged with negligent injuring.
But now that Hall's death has been ruled a homicide, the charges could become more serious.
New Orleans police detectives wouldn’t comment, except to say they’re considering all options regarding this case and reviewing all the information received from the coroner's office Friday afternoon.
“I would be somewhat surprised if they did not come out with some kind of homicide charge,” said Dr. John Penny, a SUNO criminologist.
Doctors say illegal silicone injections can be extremely dangerous.
“Black market silicone injections can be as dangerous as lying in the middle of I-10 and hoping the cars won't run over you,” said Dr. William P Coleman, III , clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University. “They go from people injecting paraffin, forms of gasoline, things that are found in Lowe’s and Home Depot.”
Now, Love hopes the case sends an important message to the transgender community.
“Save your money and go to a professional doctor because you're playing Russian roulette.”
Davenport remains free on $25,000 bond.