Man charged with murder of trans activist released from jail without bail

Meghan Riley Lewis

A man who was charged with the assault and murder of trans activist Meghan Riley Lewis has been released from jail without bail.

Meghan Riley Lewis, 57, was shot in the parking lot of her apartment complex in Bel Air, Los Angeles on 27 December, 2023. The mother of two and trans advocate was rushed to hospital where she died.

Brian Delen, 47, was arrested at the scene of the shooting and charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

According to Bel Air Police, Delen had been delivering food to Lewis when the pair got into an argument. Local news station WJZ-TV reports that the dispute was sparked by Delen allegedly misgendering Lewis.

Police stated that, at one point, the dispute turned physical and Delen pulled out a gun and shot Lewis once in the torso.

Now, Delen has been released without bail and placed on GPS home monitoring, CBS News reports.

You may like to watch

The decision to release Delen has been widely criticised by LGBTQ+ advocates and allies and sparked a protest outside a courthouse in Harford County on Monday (8 January).

The demonstration was organised by local LGBTQ+ advocacy group Baltimore Safe Haven to ensure that the trans activist’s murder was not for nothing and would incite change.

“Harford County is sending a message to LGBTQ folks at the end of the day that they are not giving out justice to transgender people,” said Boston Safe Haven founder Iya Dammons.

Protesters called for Delen to be arrested and charged with a hate crime.

Another Boston Safe Haven advocate, Renee Lau commented: “This individual took a life.

“He took the life of someone who cared and someone who would treat him the same way that she would treat her own children. This needs to be investigated further. 

“It is unconscionable that a person with a second-degree murder charge should be at liberty, and Meghan can’t speak for herself.”

Commenting on calls for Delen to be charged with a hate crime, prosecutors said in a statement issued on Tuesday (9 January) that they are “working diligently with Bel Air Police Department and the investigators assigned to this case, who are conducting a thorough investigation, to examine all evidence and determine what additional charges are appropriate.”

The next hearing in the case of the State vs Brian Delen is scheduled for 25 January. If he is convicted on his current charges, Delen could face up to 85 years behind bars.

Lewis was remembered fondly by those who knew her – particularly for her activist work with the hungry and homeless queer community.

Friends told WJZ-TV that Lewis was a “very open, loving and sparkly individual” who had founded a patient support group for trans people coming to Baltimore for life-saving surgery.