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Felony Charge Filed in Deep Ellum Beating Caught on Video

Shuffield to be re arrested on new charges, bond forthcoming

The man accused of beating a woman outside a Deep Ellum bar last week was arrested and booked into jail Friday morning, according to jail records. A bystander caught the incident on video which has been circulating online.

Austin Shuffield is accused of beating a woman, L'Daijohnique Lee, in a parking lot last Thursday and originally faced misdemeanor charges. He now faces charges of unlawfully carrying a weapon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (a second-degree felony).

Shuffield was booked into Dallas County Jail about 8 a.m. and is being held on $1,000 bond for a charge of unlawfully carrying a weapon.  A bond amount on the aggravated assault charge has not yet been issued.

"Our detectives as part of our protocol and procedures, investigated that case thoroughly, by insuring that we interviewed all witnesses, gathered all evidence, any additional video," said Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall.

The charges have been sent to the Dallas District Attorney’s Office for presentation to the grand jury, Dallas police said. Shuffield has not yet been arrested on the new charges.

The victim's attorney, Lee Merritt, said police had enough evidence for felony charges the night of the incident.

"And so it’s unfortunate that it took so much time, and phone texts and community engagement to do what all citizens should expect, to have equal protection under the law," Merritt said.

The lawyer planned a gathering of men Thursday evening at the Deep Ellum parking lot where the incident occurred to combat violence against women.

Chief Hall said this case was handled like any other.

"We owe it to our community, we owe it to the individuals who are accused of these crimes and or victims to give them a thorough investigation and that is what we did. And we are comfortable and confident in our process that happens in every incident," Hall said.

Shuffield was initially released on $2,000 bond which critics complained was too lenient for the violent beating the woman received. The new bond amount could be higher.

"It should be an additional charge and perhaps an ankle monitor so people would know where he is. That would give my client of course a great deal of more comfort," said Merritt.

On Thursday, Merritt, said they were pleased to learn about the additional charges but still feel the case should also be classified as a hate crime. He said his client will cooperate fully in the investigation and will be interviewed by Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot.

"We believe that following the D.A.'s investigation, hate crime enhancements will be warranted," Merritt said Thursday.

Shuffield was originally charged with misdemeanor assault, interfering with an emergency call and public intoxication after police said he confronted Lee last Thursday morning in an Elm Street parking lot. Shuffield worked at a nearby business and has since been fired.

Lee had just pulled in the parking lot to avoid driving the wrong way on one-way Elm Street. A bystander's video, which has been replayed around the world, recorded the beating.

Merritt said a gun the man was seen carrying in the video, his use of the N-word and Shuffield's past social media posts, all support making the case a hate crime.

Lee said her attacker walked around her car, photographed her license plate and may have learned where she lived. Earlier this week Merritt said his client felt unsafe inside her home and has been staying in a hotel.

Angry demonstrators supporting Lee went to the Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee meeting Monday. Councilman Adam McGough, the committee chairman, said he had seen the video.

"Men, fathers and just general human beings have a problem with what took place," McGough said.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings came into the chamber to listen as McGough allowed the demonstrators to speak.

Activist Olinka Green became emotional as she complained about the situation.

"You let this man walk. You let him walk. You let him out," Green cried.

Another group of demonstrators went to Dallas police headquarters and demanded Shuffield's charges be upgraded. Reverend Ronald Wright, with Justice Seekers Texas, said the case would have been handled differently if it had been black on white crime.

"We're going to ask that justice be done. Why is there a disparity in who should get treated a certain way?" Wright said.

Merritt said Lee would not publicly discuss details of the attack until she had spoken with the Creuzot or his investigators. Thursday Merritt said the planned interview with DA Creuzot has not happened yet.

Lee said she suffered a concussion in the attack and other injuries including swelling in her jaw, a black eye and an injury to her ear. Merritt said Lee had been to the emergency room three times since the attack, most recently on Sunday, and had received referrals to a facial surgeon and a psychiatrist.

"My body still hurts. Everything still hurts," Lee said.

Merritt said he planned to file a civil rights claim against Shuffield and his former employer High & Tight Barbershop and Bar. Merritt said Shuffield's employer had a responsibility to protect the public and that Shuffield expressed a hostile and racist nature online.

Shuffield could not be reached Thursday. A neighbor at his Dallas apartment said he has moved. Shuffield's landlord said his is also looking for the man.

NBC 5's Vanessa Brown and Frank Heinz contributed to this report.

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