A Texas woman was charged with criminal mischief for allegedly vandalising a pickup truck owned by a man who is accused of attacking her, authorities said on April 2.
Dallas Police issued an arrest warrant for L’Daijohnique Lee, 24, who allegedly could be seen on camera breaking the windows of Austin Shuffield’s, 30, vehicle in a Deep Ellum parking lot in Dallas on March 21.
Lee broke the pickup truck’s back windshield with a jump starter box, according to the arrest affidavit for Shuffield, WFAA reported.
#AustinShuffield unleashed a tirade of racist and sexist slurs directed at #DaiLee before launching this violent assault. He was upset because she turned the wrong way down a one way street. He was arrested and released without being charged with any felonies. pic.twitter.com/didDwaus3n
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) March 27, 2019
“Based on the damages to the window, witness testimony, and Ms. Lee’s own admission, responding officers filed a criminal mischief report at the time of the incident,” police said in a public statement. “The Dallas Police Department shares in the sentiment that the altercation captured on camera is deeply disturbing.”
*Update March 28, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. regarding the disturbance in Deep Ellum*https://t.co/XOvOFo7Mqx
— Dallas Police Dept (@DallasPD) March 28, 2019
Shuffield and his pickup truck were taken into protective custody where the man was interviewed and confirmed the facts of this offense, including assault, public intoxication, and interfering with an emergency call.
“Each of these offenses are a Class “A” Misdemeanor except for the Public Intoxication charge which is a Class “C” Misdemeanor,” police said. “Upon further investigation by the crimes against persons division, an additional charge of unlawfully carrying of a weapon has been filed and a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which is a second-degree felony, has been sent to the Dallas district attorney’s office for presentation to the grand jury.”
Shuffield claims the damage to his pickup truck will cost $3,010.88 to repair, which falls within the Texas Penal Code’s prescribed range of between $2,500 and $30,000 under section 28.03 that would justify Lee being charged with criminal mischief.
Civil Rights Attorney Lee Merritt expressed his shock on social media that police had charged the woman after she was attacked.
“A black woman alone in a dark parking lot is stalked, harassed and assaulted by a white male,” he said in a Twitter post dated April 2. “He brandishes a gun, knocks away her phone when she tries to call for help— then beats her mercilessly with blows to the head. Dallas Police department just found a way to charge her with a felony.”
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
A video recorded by a witness of the incident has gone viral on social media, showing the attacker pulling out a gun, knocking a cellphone from the victim’s hand, and kicking it away. The attacker then proceeded to repeatedly punch, jab, and upper-cut the victim’s head and face.
Shuffield defends the attack, saying Lee hit him first so he was simply acting out of self-defense.
“We understand that some people are upset,” Police Deputy Chief Thomas Castro told reporters at a televised press conference on April 2. “It’s not the intention of the Dallas Police Department to pick one side or the other, we simply had information that was provided to us on a criminal offense, we thoroughly investigated that offense, we took the action.”
Press Conference Regarding Deep Ellum Investigation
Posted by Dallas Police Department on Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Castro said anyone wanting to peacefully protest the charge against Lee would not be stopped by police.
“We encourage people their First Amendment right, and afford them that right to protest,” he said. “We hope that they do so peacefully.”
A small number of protesters have expressed their dissatisfaction with the way police handled the Deep Ellum incident. The not-for-profit multicultural activist group, Next Generation Action Network (NGAN), is threatening to stop the neighborhood’s arts festival if the situation does not improve.
“If this happens we will shut down Deep Ellum Arts Festival #ENOUGHIsEnough,” NGAN Founding President Dominique Alexander said in a Twitter post dated April 2.
“Dallas Police always finds a way to make a victim a suspect,” she told WFAA. “I know that the community will be outraged, and the community will protest.”
— Dominique Alexander (@niquealex) April 2, 2019
The Deep Ellum Arts Festival organizers still vow to hold the annual event, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary with an estimated 100 bands playing and 200 artists exhibiting their work.
Festival Founder Stephen Millard said it would sad if the event were interrupted by protestors, especially since it is a free community activity that promotes inclusion.
“This is not a place for protest, this is a place of love. If people want to come and have a platform—then we’ll work with them if they have something they want to express in a peaceful way,” he said. “Our event is not political. It’s about having a good time and loving your neighbor.”
25 years of magic. @DeepEllumArts is celebrating 25 years of shining a light on Dallas culture. Make sure to check out the @Dallas_Observer article to see what musical talents the festival has in store for everyone! 🎶🎸https://t.co/xarelQIFDb
— Culture_Hype (@Culture_Hype) April 3, 2019
Merritt later confirmed on social media the charges against Lee had been dropped.
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) April 3, 2019
***JUST IN***@MeritLaw addresses media following the dismissal of L’Daijohnique Lee’s criminal mischief charge.
— Matt Howerton (@HowertonNews) April 3, 2019