Dallas County DA declines to prosecute case against Deep Ellum attack victim
The Dallas County District Attorney has declined to prosecute the case against a woman who was attacked in Deep Ellum.
Dallas police filed a charge of felony criminal mischief on Tuesday against L’Daijohnique Lee, 24, for damaging the vehicle of Austin Shuffield. He was seen on video attacking Lee and brandishing a firearm.
The arrest warrant was recalled by Dallas police on Wednesday after the Dallas County DA declined to prosecute the case.
“We’re grateful to John Creuzot and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office,” said attorney Lee Merritt. “We think it was the right thing to do.”
Standing on the Dallas County courthouse steps on Wednesday afternoon, Merritt and Lee were relieved to learn the charge was dropped.
“I’ve been mad, frustrated… everything. I just felt like they were saying his truck was more valuable than my life,” Lee said. “And I didn’t like that at all.”
Shuffield has been charged with various misdemeanor charges -- like the unlawful carrying of a weapon and public intoxication. Dallas police referred his case to a grand jury and recommended they charge him with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Dallas police said Tuesday they were merely following the letter of the law with the charge against Lee. Police said a charge had been pending since the day of the incident. Lee she admitted to breaking out the back window of Shuffield’s pickup after video shows him violently punching her in the face.
Police say Shuffield got mad at Lee for blocking the exit to a parking lot on Elm Street. They say the two argued and he pulled a gun as she tried to call 911. Police say he then he put the gun away slapped the phone out of Lee’s hand. She hit him, and he punched back repeatedly.
"He slapped my whole phone out of my hand. He broke my phone,” Lee said. “If that's the case, I could put a charge on him for breaking my phone. That's over a $1,000 phone."
Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall on Wednesday stood by her decision to pursue the state jail felony charge, which was based on the damage estimate to the window.
“We have the responsibility as a police department to file that charge. And the district attorney in this case as in any other case has the ability to either accept that charge, reject it, try it and do what is necessary from their perspective,” Hall said.
Merritt believes DA Creuzot’s decision sends a message.
“They are not going to pursue nonsense charges coming out of the Dallas Police Department. It’s not only a response to the community outcry. It’s really common sense,” Merritt said. “We don't want to live in a society where victims are blamed for their own assault, so we are thankful to John Creuzot and the Dallas County District Attorney's Office."
Shuffield is currently out on bond. It's unclear when his case will go to the grand jury.
"This coward needs to be properly charged,” Merritt said. “He needs to be vigorously prosecuted and appropriately sentenced."
The Dallas County District Attorney's Office and Shuffield's attorney both denied requests for comment.