Activists Demand Felony Charges in Texas Attack - NBC 7 San Diego
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Activists Demand Felony Charges in Texas Attack

"If we do not get these charges, there will be strong protests at the Dallas County District Attorney's Office and Dallas Police headquarters"

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    Calls for Hate Crime Charges, Possible Protests After Deep Ellum Assault

    The man accused of beating a stranger in a Deep Ellum parking lot is free on bond and activists are calling for him to go back to jail on steeper charges. (Published Friday, March 22, 2019)

    The man accused of beating a stranger in a parking lot in Dallas' Deep Ellum neighborhood is free on bond and activists are calling for him to go back to jail on steeper charges. The dispute started when a woman drove the wrong way down a one-way street and temporarily blocked a truck from leaving a parking lot, while she was dropping off a friend.

    A witness' cell phone captured the moments the 24-year-old woman was brutally beaten in Deep Ellum. Police said, it was at the hands of Austin Shuffield. In the video, she tries to call for help but her phone is swatted away. When she fights back, she's punched five times. At one point, Shuffield appears to be holding a gun.

    Now out of the hospital, the victim's attorney said she's dealing with a concussion, swelling and, now, online death threats.

    People in Shuffield's Oawklawn neighborhood said they're stunned by the news.

    "It's pretty terrifying to think that he could do that to a random person, I can only imagine what he could do to a significant other," said Stephen Buddrus, a neighbor.

    Police booked Shuffield for assault with bodily injury, interfering with an emergency call and public intoxication. According to an affidavit, they later found a gun and knife in his truck. He's since bonded out of jail.

    "I don't even know who would sign off on letting this type of person out. This man brutally beat this woman, had a gun on him," said a member of Next Generation Action Network who spoke to media Friday.

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    In the Deep Ellum parking lot where it happened, the colorful backdrops are overpowered by the fiery calls for action.

    "We're not pulling the race card. Mr. Austin Shuffield pulled the race card first," said Minister Dominique Alexander, president of Next Generation Action Network.

    Alexander spoke in solidarity with the victim's attorney, Lee Merritt, calling for enhanced felony charges. Both say the 30-year-old yelled several racial slurs, including the 'n' word. They're demanding Shuffield be rearrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a hate crime.

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    "If we do not get these charges, there will be strong protests at the Dallas County District Attorney's Office and Dallas Police headquarters," Alexander said.

    More than 24 hours after the attack, we asked Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall if she'd seen the video.

    "I can't tell you I haven't received the video, I just have not had an opportunity to review it." Hall said. "I will review the video sometime today."

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    She said she's relying on her detectives to get it right.

    "Allow the detectives to review the video, consult and make the necessary adjustments to any charges, if that is necessary," Hall said. "We are not at the end of it, we're really just at the beginning."

    In the meantime -- those supporting the victim are making sure their voices are heard.

    "Austin Shuffield wherever you at, you might get by but you can't get away, because on the day your court date comes, we're gonna pack it," said a woman with Next Generation Action Network.