Dallas DA Won't Prosecute Black Woman Being Charged With Felony After Being Beaten Unconscious By A White Man
Her attacker, who was also intoxicated, initially only received a misdemeanor assault charge.
Update (April 3, 2019): A Texas woman who was seen on video being brutally attacked by a white male was been charged with a felony by the state, but the district attorney isn't trying to hear it.
On Tuesday, civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt announced L’Daijonique Lee was charged with a felony criminal mischief charge for allegedly damaging her attacker’s vehicle. Promptly afterward, Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot declined to take the case, and charges were dropped.
WFAA reports Dallas police gave the 24-year-old a charge most often filed when assailants cause upward of $2,500 to $30,000 in damages, which could have required time in jail.
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Austin Shuffield, Lee’s attacker who was caught on tape brandishing a gun and punching the woman unconscious, claims in his arrest affidavit that Lee broke the back windshield of his pickup truck with a jump box. It is unclear when the act occurred.
Shuffield also claims that Lee hit him first, and he only assaulted the woman in self-defense.
The man was initially charged with a misdemeanor for the crime. Following protests and push-back from local activists, officials have since upgraded his charges to a second-degree felony aggravated assault (with a deadly weapon) and for unlawfully carrying a weapon.
An eye-witness recorded the encounter, which shows Shuffield pulling out his gun and knocking Lee’s cellphone to the ground; she was reportedly attempting to call police at the time. He was then seen on camera hitting the woman multiple times with a series of punches to her face and head that left her unresponsive.
"The DA did what was right, what they were supposed to do in this situation," Merritt said of the decision. "But it's an embarrassment that these charges were brought forward."
Original: A Texas man is now unemployed and facing charges after he assaulted a woman over a parking spot.
Austin Shuffield was charged with assault causing bodily injury, interference with an emergency call and public intoxication, The Dallas Morning News reports. Shuffield reportedly attacked L'Daijohnique Lee on Wednesday morning during a traffic dispute in a Dallas, Texas, parking lot.
Lee admitted she was driving the wrong way down a one-way street and said she was trying to correct her error when she encountered Shuffield. He allegedly got out of his pickup truck and demanded Lee move her vehicle because she was blocking a parking lot exit. When he walked to her car and tried to take pictures of her license plate, an argument ensued.
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Lee told Shuffield "to get back or else she would Mace him," and when he pulled out a handgun, the 24-year-old woman attempted to call 911. Shuffield reportedly slapped the phone from her hand, and Lee slapped him. What she said happened next is horrifying.
"He charged at me, and he just kept hitting me, and I was like, 'Okay, okay, okay,'" Lee told WFAA.
In a video taken by witness Ricky Tan, Shuffield can be seen punching Lee several times in her head and upper body. Tan said he didn’t intervene because Shuffield was armed.
Police officers eventually arrived and arrested Shuffield. Officers said they smelled alcohol when they spoke to the 30-year-old. A handgun and knife were recovered from his vehicle.
Shuffield, who worked as a bartender at High and Tight Barbershop, also lost his job.
"We have finally [spoken] with police representatives and have terminated this employee," the business said on Facebook. "We do not stand behind the actions that took place and hope that the full weight of the law comes down on this incident."
The video went viral, and Lee said she'd been left traumatized by the beating.
"Watching that video literally makes me cry. All I could do was try and protect myself," she said. "He literally sat there and beat me like a man."
Despite the horror, Lee is glad the assault was caught on tape.
"In reality, that recording really helped me because when the police showed up, it would have been my word against his," she said.
Lee has retained civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt, who is calling for hate crime charges. Lee reportedly suffered several injuries including a post-concussion syndrome and cranial swelling.
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