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‘It Is What It Is’: White Texas Man Who Repeatedly Punched Black Woman Over Parking Lot Dispute Gets Four Days In Jail

Three years after his fight with a Black woman went viral on social media, a white male former bartender has been found guilty of obstruction and assault.

In a controversial move, the man was allowed to make a plea agreement after his conviction, which rendered him a suspended sentence of 120 days and five years probation.

White Texas man punches black woman
In witness video, Austin Shuffield is seen striking a Black woman multiple times as she crouches over in pain. (Images courtesy of CBS 11)

In 2019, Austin Shuffield, 33, was indicted for beating up L’Daijohnique Lee, 27, in a parking lot in Ellum, an area of Dallas, Texas, on Thursday, March 21, 2019.

The case has been explosive from the start after reports that police originally charged Lee with felony criminal mischief for damaging the man’s truck during the altercation.

However, that changed once a witness, who captured the assault on a cell phone, posted the altercation on the internet. Later the video picked up national traction, shifting the conversation around the incident.

The video starts from the beginning of the argument, sparked by Lee parking her car in a way that blocked Shuffield’s truck from pulling out.  In response, Shuffield jumped out of his vehicle and approached the woman. The footage picks up with the man knocking a cell phone out of Lee’s hands and then showing the man holding a gun to his side, according to CBS News.

After a while the conflict escalated, the video showed, and Shuffield is seen punching Lee in the jaw and hitting her in the face and head four more times. From the assault, Lee suffered a concussion, a swollen jaw and a black eye.

Lee was originally charged with felony mischief in the incident for allegedly damaging Shuffield’s truck, but that charge has since been dropped.

At the time, Lee’s attorney, Lee Merritt, said by charging his client, law enforcement was “basically saying [Shuffield’s] truck was more valuable than my life.” 

When Shuffield was finally arrested, he was released quickly, prompting the case to be handed over to a special prosecutor, who presented their discovery to the jury.

A Dallas County jury found the former bartender guilty of two lesser counts from his original indictment but not guilty of the more serious aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge.

Jury deliberation started on Friday, Dec. 2, and lasted for five hours. After breaking for the weekend, jurors returned to the Dallas County court on Monday, Dec. 5, and reached a verdict after wrestling with their decision for a few more hours. The verdict was rendered that morning.

Suggestions that the fight was race-related were also challenged during the trial.

Shuffield’s attorneys argued the fight was not a hate crime, discounting claims that his client made a racial slur toward Lee.

However, Lee’s lawyers maintain, Shuffield made racial slurs” and made other “racist remarks.

The conviction of even the two lesser counts is bittersweet for the defense, which claims many aspects of the case were “an overreach.”

“Our position is still that this was an overreach from the beginning,” said one Rebekah Presltine, one of Shuffield’s defense attorneys. “This was a way to throw every aggravated or felony charge at Mr. Shuffield in order to increase the changes or to satisfy a community that quite frankly three-and-a-half years ago was outraged. This is how we got here.”

Scott Palmer, another defense attorney, said, “It’s obviously a difficult pill to swallow to be charged with and convicted of obstruction by simply tapping a phone. I have never seen a felony charge for that conduct.”

Shuffield and his lawyers arranged for him to enter a plea deal after the conviction, with the caveat that he would not later file an appeal of his convictions, according to Fox 4.

“We then determined it was more efficient to reach an agreement with Mr. Shuffield and his counsel,” said Russell Wilson, one of the prosecutors on the case. “We reached an agreement that was similar to a person not convicted of an aggravated offense in Dallas County,” he added.

As a part of the agreement, Shuffield received a suspended sentence of 120 days in jail and two years supervision for the assault charge. He also received five years of probation for obstruction.

Shuffield reportedly will serve some time in jail immediately for the assault charge: four days. He also had to plead guilty to a separate DWI charge in Collin County, which lands him another 90 days in jail.

He will be required to keep a portable alcohol monitor on his person and blow into it four times a day because of the DWI charge. He also has to take drug and alcohol classes.

Lee is ready to move on from the incident. Telling reporters after the sentencing, “It is what it is. At the end of the day, justice is served.”

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