Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot apparently had no idea the city’s police department planned to file felony charges against L’Daijohnique Lee, the Black woman seen on video getting beaten unconscious last month by a racist white man.
“The District Attorney had no prior knowledge that an arrest warrant was issued,” Creuzot said a terse statement on Tuesday night. “When and if charges reach the District Attorney’s Office, we will take appropriate action.”
The development in an already very ugly case underscored what could be a growing rift between the city’s newly elected top cop and the police chief, both of whom are African-American.
As we reported, authorities charged Lee with criminal mischief on Tuesday in her confrontation with bartender Austin Shuffield on March 21. She was accused of damaging Shuffield’s pickup truck after he violently attacked her in the Dallas neighborhood of Deep Ellum.
During the dispute, Shuffield reportedly called her a “stupid nigger” and pulled out a gun before punching her and leaving her unconscious.
The way that Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall has managed this case will no doubt raise red flags in Dallas’ Black community. Activists previously slammed her for mismanaging the Botham Jean case. The unarmed 26-year-old Black man was gunned down in his own apartment in September by then-Dallas cop Amber Guyger.
Hall previously claimed that she was legally “prohibited” from firing Guyger—which several reports claimed was not true. Along with Guyger not being fired, it took 72 hours for Guyger to be charged. There were also delays in searching Guyger’s apartment even after five search warrants were issued.
He was released on $2,000 bond the same day he was locked up for attacking the 24-year-old woman. He was initially charged with misdemeanor assault. After angry public protests about the slap on the wrist, the police upgraded the charges to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony, and unlawfully carrying a weapon.
The viral video of the attack appears to show Shuffield holding a gun in one hand as he slaps away Lee’s cellphone. She was reportedly attempting to call 911. Lee responded to Shuffield’s aggression by shoving him away, but he retaliated by punching her multiple times.
Here’s a video clip that contains graphic content.
Dallas police added salt to the wound Tuesday afternoon at a news conference where Deputy Chief Thomas Castro discussed the controversial charges against Lee.
“It’s not the intention of the Dallas Police Department to pick one side or the other. We value all of our citizens,” he said.
Here’s a clip from the press conference.
Looking ahead, Creuzot’s office could present the charge against Lee to a grand jury or drop the case against her entirely, according to the Dallas Morning News.