Dallas Police Up Charges Against White Bartender Who Brutally Beat Black Woman
Amid calls for hate-crime charges, Austin Shuffield is back in a Dallas jail a week after calling L’Daijohnique Lee ‘stupid [n-word]’ before knocking her unconscious.
A white Texas bartender accused of knocking a black woman unconscious after calling her a “stupid [n-word]” is back in jail one week after the attack, authorities said Friday.
Austin Shuffield, 30, was booked into Dallas County Jail on Friday morning on a felony unlicensed weapon charge, and is facing a newly upgraded felony assault charge that must still be reviewed by a grand jury.
Dallas police say Shuffield brutally beat up and yelled racial slurs at L’Daijohnique Lee in Deep Ellum last Thursday, in an incident following a parking dispute that has captured local and national attention. Video from the scene shows Shuffield savagely punching Lee at least five times. Shuffield was arrested minutes later and was released on bail the next day on two misdemeanor charges. Following a week of protests and rallies, law-enforcement officials announced Thursday they upgraded the recommended charges to the district attorney’s office to include aggravated assault.
“We are just pleased the police added the new charges so quickly because this event speaks to more than one horrible instance. It speaks to the culture in Deep Ellum,” her attorney, civil-rights activist Lee Merritt, told The Daily Beast on Friday. “ In this community, the culture against black women specifically is unacceptable and we plan to fight until the end.”
Shuffield allegedly called Lee “a ‘cokehead’ and that she was a ‘stupid n---er,’” Merritt previously told The Daily Beast. “To get away from him, she jumped on the curb to go toward the parking lot and he followed her to where she parked her car, continuing to harass her.”
In the video, Shuffield is then seen slapping the phone out of the 24-year-old’s hand before lunging toward her, and punching her at least five times with a closed fist. Lee’s body is seen doubling over after the first punch.
“Ms. Lee is still seeking additional hate-crime charges against Shuffield and we intend to file a civil-rights lawsuit, but the new charges have definitely given her peace of mind knowing her attacker will soon be off the streets,” Merritt said.
The felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges has been referred to the Dallas District Attorney’s Office and a county grand jury, which will now decide whether to indict Shuffield, police said. The two new felonies would be in addition to the bodily injury, interfering with an emergency call, and public-intoxication misdemeanor charges the 30-year-old was originally hit with last week.
“The investigation is ongoing but we plan to move quickly,” the district attorney’s spokesperson said.
Merritt said the community is confident following the district attorney’s investigation that hate-crime charges will be added. In the meantime, the 24-year-old is taking self-defense classes and is in the process of being able to legal own a handgun.
“She never wants to be a victim again,” her attorney said.
The 30-year-old, who was fired from his job at High and Tight Barbershop after the video went viral, did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment and it not clear if he has an attorney.