A white Texas man seen on video punching a Black woman multiple times in a fit of road rage earlier this year has been indicted on felony assault and obstruction charges.
Austin Shuffield, 31, was charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, felony obstruction or retaliation, misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury and misdemeanor unlawful carrying of a weapon, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Witness video taken of the incident March 21 in the Deep Ellum district of Dallas showed Shuffield knocking a cellphone out of L’Daijohnique Lee’s hands and then punching her five times in the face and body when she pushed him.
Lee was initially charged with felony mischief in the incident allegedly for causing damage to Shuffield’s truck, but that charge has since been dropped, according to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.
Lee’s attorney, Lee Merritt, said during a news conference at the time that charging the woman is “basically saying [Shuffield’s] truck was more valuable than my life.”
He commended special prosecutor Russell Wilson Friday after he was earlier appointed to handle criminal charges in the case.
“Special Prosecutor Russel Wilson is an elite prosecutor,” Merritt tweeted. “For the record, this is how officer-involved shootings should be handled. Give it to an independent prosecutor to pursue.”
The initial incident Shuffield is accused in happened when Lee said she stopped her vehicle after realizing she had been driving the wrong way and blocked a parking lot exit, Dallas police told multiple news outlets.
Shuffield reportedly got out of his truck to ask her to move and the situation escalated, police said.
At one point in video of the incident, the man was shown with what appeared to be a handgun.
Shuffield’s attorneys, Scott Palmer and Rebekah Perlstein, however, told Fox 4 News Shuffield put the gun in a pocket or waistband before striking Lee.
“We are absolutely stunned that the aggravated assault was true billed as a case,” Palmer told the news station.
Perlstein said, “I think the impression that we had going in was that both the detective and the district attorney’s office that’s not been recused does not believe that this was an assault with a deadly weapon.”
Merritt told Fox he thinks the charges are appropriate.
“In the video, you can clearly see Austin Shuffield brandish a firearm. They’re right he put it away because he took it out and he wielded it first,” Merritt said. “I think felony indictments were appropriate.
“I honestly would have liked to see hate crime charges pursued as well. I understand the hate crime charges are difficult to meet.”