The Dallas Police County district attorney’s office dropped felony charges against a Black woman who was brutally assaulted by a white man after a backlash.
L’Daijohnique Lee, 24, was charged with criminal mischief in last month’s confrontation with bartender Austin Shuffield. Shuffield was caught on camera repeatedly punching Lee on March 21 in a Deep Ellum parking lot. Shuffield also pulled out a gun.
Shuffield’s was ultimately charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony, and unlawfully carrying a weapon. Lee’s charges were because she admitted to police that she smashed a window in his pickup after the assault.
“It’s not the intention of the Dallas Police Department to pick one side or another,” Deputy Chief Thomas Castro said in an afternoon news conference. “[We] have to make sure that all of our citizens have been heard and that we take all of their complaints seriously.”
Immediately, there was backlash to the decision. Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot denied involvement in the warrant. His office issued a written statement Tuesday.
“The District Attorney had no prior knowledge that an arrest warrant was issued,” the statement said. “When and if charges reach the District Attorney’s Office, we will take appropriate action.”
The Rev. Michael Waters of Agape/Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Churches said that Lee’s potential arrest further highlighted the “severe mistrust” that grew between the black community and the Dallas Police Department. There were protests after Lee’s assault went viral. The city is also reeling from the September shooting death of Botham Jean by former Dallas officer Amber Guyger.
“I am convinced that black life does not matter to the city of Dallas,” he said.
Attorney Lee Merritt, who represents Lee, took to social media and blasted the decision by the Dallas PD.
“A black woman alone in a dark parking lot is stalked, harassed and assaulted by a white male. He brandishes a gun, knocks away her phone when she tries to call for help— then beats her mercilessly with blows to the head. DPD just found a way to charge HER with a felony. #DaiLee,” he tweeted.
A black woman alone in a dark parking lot is stalked, harassed and assaulted by a white male. He brandishes a gun, knocks away her phone when she tries to call for help— then beats her mercilessly with blows to the head. DPD just found a way to charge HER with a felony. #DaiLee pic.twitter.com/hMJab8UM3i
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) April 2, 2019
On Wednesday, a day later, the Dallas County district attorney’s office declined to prosecute Lee.
“The DA did what was right, what they were supposed to do in this situation,” Merritt said. “But it’s an embarrassment that these charges were brought forward.”
***JUST IN***@MeritLaw addresses media following the dismissal of L’Daijohnique Lee’s criminal mischief charge.
— Matt Howerton (@HowertonNews) April 3, 2019
The police department continued to defend their actions, insisting that Lee left them no choice but to file charges.
“The decision to file charges against L’Daijohnique Lee was based on her admission, evidence at the scene and statements obtained from witnesses,” police said Wednesday.
— David Goins (@dgoins) April 3, 2019
Watch Lee explain what happened during the brutal encounter below.