Austin Shuffield, 24, was charged with aggravated assault, interference with a 911 call and public intoxication for an allegedly racist Wednesday morning attack
A white former bartender who allegedly beat up a black woman and hurled racist abuse at her during a parking lot dispute early Wednesday morning, could be facing hate crime charges.
Austin Shuffield, 24, of Dallas, Texas, was charged with aggravated assault, interference with a 911 call and public intoxication, all misdemeanors, following the incident.
Police say Shuffield is the man seen on video savagely punching a black woman identified as L’Daijohnique Lee, 24.
The video shot by a bystander went viral on social media and caught the attention of high-profile civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who contacted the victim and says he is working with her to ensure her attacker is held accountable.
‘It made my blood boil,’ Merritt told the Daily Mail about seeing the video for the first time.
The attorney said Lee was still recovering in the hospital Friday morning after suffering a concussion and ‘cranial swelling.’
He also said the initial charges against Shuffield weren’t severe enough for what he was seen doing on video.
‘Our office is speaking with the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s office to ensure all appropriate charges are pursued, including felony assault, firearm and hate crime-related charges,’ Merritt said via text message.
Police were called to the scene of the attack at 4.26am Wednesday.
Shuffield is seen punching L’Daijohnique Lee, 24, in the face during a parking lot dispute early Wednesday morning
Lee said Shuffield confronted her for driving the wrong way down a one-way street and blocking a parking lot exit with her vehicle while he was trying to leave the lot.
When she tried to leave the scene, she said Shuffield blocked her path with his vehicle before getting out to berate her again.
That was the moment a bystander starting filming the incident with his smart phone camera, according to Merritt.
The video shows Shuffield pulling a handgun from his waste band while arguing with Lee, who responds by pulling out her cell phone to call 911.
‘I was scared. I was like, “You got a gun?”‘ Lee told WFAA after the incident. ‘The first thing I could think of was to call the police.’
In the video, Shuffield is seen knocking the phone out of Lee’s hand, prompting her to punch him. He retaliates by punching Lee in the face at least five times, even after she curled up and covered her face in submission.
‘He charged at me and just kept going. I was just like saying, “OK OK,” as he’s hitting me like, “OK,”‘ Lee said.
Shuffield then kicked Lee’s phone into the street.
‘You’re in big trouble bro,’ a bystander can be heard saying on the video.
‘Hey bro, chill bro, that’s a female,’ the man filming the incident says next before the video cuts off.
Police say Shuffield is the man seen on video savagely punching a black woman identified as L’Daijohnique Lee (pictured), 24
Lee’s attorney said she was still in the hospital Friday morning recovering from a concussion and ‘cranial swelling’
Shuffield used to work as a bartender at a combination bar and barbershop called High & Tight
Shuffield’s former boss said he fired Shuffield Thursday after viewing the video of his attack and talking with police
Prior to the incident, Shuffield worked as a bartender at High & Tight Barbershop, a combination barbershop and bar located in Dallas’s Deep Ellum neighborhood not far from where the attack occurred.
The business’s owner told reporters he fired Shuffield after seeing the video of the attack and talking with police.
‘We have finally spoke with police representatives and have terminated this employee,’ the company said in a post on its Facebook page. ‘We do not stand behind the actions that took place and hope that the full weight of the law comes down on this incident.’
Lee told WFAA the incident was the worst night of her life.
‘Why you put your hands on me like that?’ she said of Shuffield. ‘You literally sat there and beat me like a man.’