Dallas County DA Rejects Felony Charge Against Deep Ellum Assault Victim 4/6/2019

The victim of an assault caught on video was shocked when a warrant was issued for her arrest.

L’Daijohnique Lee was charged with felony criminal mischief after police said she broke the window on a truck belonging to the man who allegedly beat her.

The two were apparently fighting over a parking space.

The Dallas district attorney now says those charges will be dropped.

When Lee spoke to Dallas police about the assault captured on cellphone video, she never expected she would be charged.

“I’ve been having breakdowns,” said Lee, who was beaten by Austin Shuffield. The 33-year-old man had a gun during the encounter. “I just felt like I was just being honest. I was telling them everything that happened.”

The Dallas police chief saw another side to this story.

Dallas police said they filed a case against Lee for criminal mischief in part because she admitted to breaking the back window of her attacker’s truck.

Lee’s attorney, Lee Merritt warns the department’s decision could have a chilling effect on victims’ willingness to report crimes.

“If I’m a victim of domestic abuse, but I’m in possession of marijuana, is it safe for me to call the police?” Merritt said.

Former prosecutor Heath Harris said victims shouldn’t assume they are immune to prosecution.

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

Following a morning of protests at city hall, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office announced it would not prosecute the case against Lee.

District Attorney John Creuzot said he had no prior knowledge that a warrant was being issued.

Harris had his interpretation of that story.

“He’s saying this should have never even gotten to my office. (With) a case of this magnitude, someone should have contacted my intake people to let me know, let us know, that you guys were thinking of filing this case and we would have told you, ‘don’t file that case,’” Harris said.

Lee faced a felony criminal mischief charge because the damage to the truck was estimated at more than $25,000.

That’s more serious than the original misdemeanor charge against 30-year-old Shuffield for punching her violently five times in the face and head.

Shuffield’s charge has since been upgraded to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon since he held a gun during the argument.

Lee’s lawyer is asking for federal hate crime charges to be filed against Shuffield.