DALLAS - Dallas police have made an arrest in the beating of a transgender woman and the FBI is assisting in the investigation of the incident as a possible hate crime.
Police arrested Edward Thomas, 29, late Sunday for his alleged role in the attack of Muhlaysia Booker in a Southeast Dallas apartment complex parking lot. Thomas has been charged with aggravated assault and two others are described in police records as suspects.
On Friday night, police said Thomas attacked the transgender woman after a minor car accident outside the Royal Crest Apartments.
The man she backed into got out and “he pointed a gun at her and stated he would not let her leave unless she paid for the damage,” according to the arrest warrant affidavit. Thomas, who is the second suspect involved in the incident, is told “...he would receive $200 to beat the complainant.” A third “Suspect... joins in and begins to stomp on the complaint’s face”
The affidavit says the victim told police that as Thomas beat her, unknown people in the crowd made homophobic slurs before she went unconscious and was pulled away from the mob.
A bystander recorded about three minutes of the beating on a cellphone and investigators have a copy of the footage.
"This case is certainly disturbing. The video, I'm sure, shocks the conscience,” said DPD Lt. Vincent Weddington.
Dallas police investigators said during a Monday afternoon press conference they expect to make additional arrests and the FBI has been contacted about the possibility of prosecuting the case as a federal hate crime. Transgender people are covered by federal hate crime laws, but not by Texas statutes.
A check of public records shows Thomas has a criminal history dating back to 2009 and includes felony assault family violence and burglary.
Kirk Myers is CEO of a Dallas organization called Abounding Prosperity that supports transgender people. The group helped Booker transition and is helping her now. Myers believes the attack was fueled by hate and intolerance.
"This is not new to the people we see every day. What's new about it is that there are cell phones that are able to capture it,” Myers said. "We're just wanted this to be treated with the utmost attention that it requires."
The victim’s grandmother, Debora Booker, told FOX4 on Sunday that she believes all the people that stood around doing nothing as her grandchild was beaten in a mob-style attack are as guilty as to people attacking her.
“Anyone who thinks it's acceptable just because she's transgender, something is wrong with them too. They need to seek some help. It's still a human being, period. Regardless of what her gender is, she's still a human being,” said Quan Booker, the victim's aunt.
Family members say Booker has a broken wrist, swollen face, a concussion and she’s still in a lot of pain. She was released from the hospital and is recovering from her injuries at home.
Investigators say it was anonymous tips that led to Thomas’s arrest. Thomas' bond amount has not yet been set.