Months after prosecutors determined that the fatal shooting of a Pennsylvania trans woman during a wellness check was lawful, bereaved family members continue to seek justice and support.
Maddie Hofmann, 47, was shot to death by Malvern police in their home in the 800 block of Charleston Greene on May 19. They are survived by their wife, Rebecca, and two children aged 9 and 4.
“They belonged on medication, not on a shelf,” Rebecca told The Philadelphia Inquirer, referencing the box holding Hofmann’s ashes. “They’re supposed to be here long enough to get better.”
Police conducted the wellness check after an unidentified individual called 911 to report that Hofmann was having a mental health crisis. The caller claimed that Hofmann had just sent an email that they interpreted as a suicide letter.
Hofmann had also posted a series of concerning tweets in the past three weeks. Worries for their well-being escalated after they shared a photo of a firearm.
In a news release on June 2, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office described how Hofmann had armed themself during the check and “aimed the gun at police.” In response, an officer shot them three times, killing them on the spot.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, it was apparent that the subject proceeded to take actions that placed all officers in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury,” the district attorney said. “By waving her firearm with her finger on the trigger while struggling over the gun, she jeopardized the lives of all present.”
As a result, no officer will be charged in the incident.
“The subject created a situation where the police officer had a reasonable belief that his life, and the lives of others, were in danger of serious bodily injury or death, thereby justifying the use of deadly force according to 18 Pa. C.S.A. §508,” the district attorney added.
With no single person held accountable for Hofmann’s death, their family continues to seek answers. They believe police lack the training necessary to support persons undergoing a mental health crisis.
“It has been a struggle,” Hofmann’s sister, Emily Flynn, told NextShark. “Maddie was my best friend and someone I loved very, very deeply. Every day has been difficult since they passed. While we weren’t twins, the bond and closeness we had was so tight.”
Hofmann, like Flynn, was a Korean adoptee raised by white parents. Flynn said her sister had been struggling with their mental health for a few years but was seeking care.
“Like many transracial adoptees, Maddie struggled with their mental health and only in the past few years did they begin the arduous process of healing, finding language and validation for some of the things they were struggling with, and processing the trauma they have experienced,” Flynn shared. “Also, like many transracial adoptees, Maddie struggled with their identity, as we often did not have Asian role models or know any other Asian people in our white communities and schools in which we were raised.”
Flynn said she was in contact with her sister up until the tragic incident. Photos she had shared on a GoFundMe page show their close bond as younger siblings.
“You can see how Maddie cared for their little sister, even from a young age,” Flynn said. “That love and care continued every single day of our lives up until the moment they were killed.”
Flynn started the GoFundMe campaign to help cover initial legal fees, fund the education and mental health counseling of Hofmann’s children and raise awareness to prevent similar incidents. Any additional funds “will be used to start a foundation or scholarship fund for trans youth in the foster care system in Maddie’s name.”
At present, Malvern police are not investigating Hofmann’s death, according to Flynn. She has never been in contact with the department nor the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, which “only investigated for two weeks and decided not to charge the officers.”
Still, the family is determined to find justice. Attorneys at Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP are investigating Hofmann’s death on their behalf, Flynn said.
“Maddie was a trans woman, Korean adoptee, POC, father, brother, son. I feel that so many people could identify with some aspect of who Maddie was,” Flynn told NextShark.
“We are hoping to raise awareness about what happened to Maddie so that this does not happen to another family. Police were responding to a wellness check and instead of helping Maddie, they shot and killed Maddie after Maddie retreated into their home.”
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