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DA Rejects Felony Charge Against Deep Ellum Assault Victim

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Court records show the criminal mischief charge against Deep Ellum beating victim L'Daijohnique Lee was rejected by the Dallas County DA.

L'Daijohnique Lee (credit: CBS 11 News)

Lee was facing a felony charge for allegedly damaging her attacker's truck after he assaulted her.

Some members of the community were outraged after an arrest warrant was issued for Lee and Wednesday morning protesters showed up at Dallas City Hall.

Members of the group told CBS 11 News they planned to stay at the public building all day and make it a point to have a special presence during the day's city council meeting.

Friends and representatives of Lee spoke about how upset she is. They said they had to get Lee a hotel room Tuesday night because she was afraid to stay at home, thinking she would be apprehended.

damage to Austin Shuffield's truck
(credit: Lee Merritt/Attorney for L'Daijohnique Lee)

According to police, after the assault Lee broke out the back window in the truck of her attacker - Austin Shuffield.

Lee told CBS 11 News she was beaten after getting into a confrontation with Shuffield over a parking space.

Shuffield held a gun by his side during part of the argument, which was recorded on a cellphone by a bystander, and at some point knocked Lee's cell phone out of her hand. She reacted by hitting him. Shuffield responded by punching Lee in the jaw and then hitting her violently four more times in the face and head.

The criminal mischief charge against Lee was a felony because the damage to Shuffield's truck is estimated at more than $2,500.

The charge and punishment Lee faced was more serious than the initial misdemeanor assault Shuffield was charged with for attacking her. One of the charges against the 30-year-old man was later upgraded to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Dominique Alexander, the founder of the Next Generation Action Network, spoke directly to officials while at the City Hall protest. "We are first starting off to let the Dallas Police Department know that the black community feels you do not embody our values," he said.

Police said they had no choice when it came to charging Lee, because they said there's clear evidence she committed a crime.

Protesters said the charge is completely inappropriate given the 24-year-old woman acted after she was attacked.

"We're sick and tired. I'm tired of being here. People are taking time out of their jobs to come here in support of the community and black women," said activist Melissa Perry. "So I implore the community, if you're not standing for this and [physical] abuse – and this is just as good as domestic violence – then stand with us. Because we can shut Deep Ellum down and we can stop spending money there, because that's where we're going."

Former prosecutor Heath Harris told CBS 11 victims shouldn't assume they are immune to prosecution.

"I don't want to send the wrong message to victims that they think they can retaliate and there's not going to be any consequences for your retaliation," said Harris.


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