Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall gave an explanation for why she failed to notify District Attorney John Creuzot that she was filing a felony charge against a Black woman seen on video last month being brutally beaten by a racist white man.
“The District Attorney had no prior knowledge that an arrest warrant was issued,” Creuzot said in a terse statement on Tuesday night.
A viral video of the assault and initial minor charges against the attacker sparked angry protests in the streets of Dallas. It’s hard to believe that the communication failure was an oversight. Reporters asked the police chief about blindsiding Creuzot.
“Often times information gets to you at a slower pace than we would like,” she said. “So our goal is never to blindside the district attorney. And if that was the case, we will work to make sure that doesn’t happen in the future.”
The way Hall handled the situation underscored what could be a growing rift between the city’s newly elected top cop and the police chief, both of whom are African-American.
After coming under criticism for filing the charges against Lee, the Dallas Police Department doubled down. The department said its role is to investigate any offense to determine whether there was a violation of the law, and the district attorney’s role is deciding whether to prosecute.
“The decision to file charges against L’Daijohnique Lee was based on her admission, evidence at the scene and statements obtained from witnesses,” police said Wednesday, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Hall charged Lee with criminal mischief on Tuesday in her confrontation with bartender Austin Shuffield on March 21. She was accused of damaging Shuffield’s pickup truck after he violently attacked her in the Dallas neighborhood of Deep Ellum.
During the dispute, Shuffield reportedly called her a “stupid nigger” and pulled out a gun before punching her and leaving her unconscious.
Here’s a video clip that contains graphic content.
He was released on $2,000 bond the same day he was locked up for attacking Lee. He was initially charged with misdemeanor assault. After angry public protests about the slap on the wrist, the police upgraded the charges to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony, and unlawfully carrying a weapon.
The way Hall managed this case will no doubt raise red flags in Dallas’ Black community. Activists previously slammed her for mismanaging the Botham Jean case. The unarmed 26-year-old Black man was gunned down in his own apartment in September by then-Dallas cop Amber Guyger.
Hall previously claimed that she was legally “prohibited” from firing Guyger—which several reports claimed was not true. Along with Guyger not being fired, it took 72 hours for Guyger to be charged. There were also delays in searching Guyger’s apartment even after five search warrants were issued.