NEW ORLEANS - Armani Nicole Davenport performs at transgender pageants throughout the southeast. But New Orleans police want to talk to the Dallas resident about an alleged link to another line of work -- injecting silicone into people without a license, sending someone into a coma in the process.
Davenport is currently a person of interest in the investigation.
The victim was at a friend’s apartment in the 1200 block of S. Salcedo in Zion City, getting silicone injections in her hips and buttocks just after 1 a.m. Oct. 24, said police.
Hours later, her health took a turn for the worse. She was rushed to the University Medical Center in critical condition, and remains in a coma.
“They're saying that her lungs will never be the same again, she won't be able to do a lot of things that she used to do,” said Tela Love, who knows the victim well.
Getting silicone injections on the black market isn't uncommon in the transgender community, said Love. She herself has had the procedure done.
“You get desperate to try to blend in, to try to be able to pass in society or be accepted without people heckling you or laughing at you,” said Love. “You want to have some sense of normalcy. You know you're a woman on the inside. You want your outsides to match.”
Love said it can be difficult to find employment as a transgender woman in the south, and silicone injections are a cheaper option for those who can't afford a professional procedure. But after seeing a number of others either die or fall seriously ill, Love said she now knows the risks.
“If I it all to do over again, I would have never had any of it done,” she said.
Metairie dermatologist Dr. Robert Koppel said often times silicone injected on the black market is bought straight from the hardware store.
“Outside of a doctors office is extremely dangerous, I don't think there's any safe way to do it,” said Koppel.
“Armani as a person is a wonderful person. She's not a monster, and she's not the type of person that's going around looking for people to hurt,” said one of Davenport’s friends, who asked to be identified only as Bubbles.
But with someone in a coma police are hoping to find Davenport while activists in the community hope this will be a lesson for others.
Bubbles has also had the procedure done, but now warns against the risk.
Meanwhile, Love said this was the victim’s second time getting silicone injections in less than a week.
If you have any information on Davenport’s wherabouts, call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111 or the New Orleans Police Department at 504-658-6060.