DALLAS — The woman who was recently beaten by a man in a Deep Ellum parking lot has now also been charged in the case.
Dallas police charged L'Daijohnique Lee, 24, Tuesday with felony criminal mischief for damaging the man's pickup truck after she was punched, police officials confirmed in a news conference.
Deputy Chief Thomas Castro said Lee admitted to causing the damage, which was estimated to be just more than $3,000.
In Texas, criminal mischief is a state jail felony if the damage costs $2,500 to $30,000.
Lee's attorney, Lee Merritt, posted about the potential criminal mischief charge on Twitter:
"A black woman alone in a dark parking lot is stalked, harassed and assaulted by a white male," Merritt posted. "He brandishes a gun, knocks away her phone when she tries to call for help – then beats her mercilessly with blows to the head. DPD just found a way to charge HER with a felony."
"We understand that some people are upset," Castro said at the news conference. "It's not the intention of the Dallas Police Department to pick one side or the other. We simply had information that was provided to us on a criminal offense. We thoroughly investigated that offense. We took the action that was taken today."
When asked about potential protests in response to the charge against Lee – her supporters protested last week after Shuffield was only initially charged with a misdemeanor – Castro said, "We hope that they do so peacefully."
"We encourage people their First Amendment right, and afford them that right to protest," Castro said.
In a statement, the Dallas County district attorney's office said it found out about the arrest warrant for Lee from the media and had no prior knowledge of the charge.
"When and if charges reach the District Attorney's Office, we will take appropriate action," the statement said.
Shuffield, 30, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawfully carrying a weapon.
In the arrest affidavit for Shuffield, he said Lee broke his pickup truck's back windshield with a jump box, a charger for a car battery.
The case has drawn widespread attention since a video was posted on Facebook of Lee being punched repeatedly.
Investigators said it all started when Shuffield confronted Lee about blocking the parking lot exit with her car.
A witness recorded video that showed the suspect pull out a gun before knocking Lee's cellphone from her hand and kicking it away. He then delivered a series of upper-cut punches and jabs to the woman’s face and head.
Shuffield, according to his arrest affidavit, said he hit Lee out of self-defense because she hit him first.
After the initial misdemeanor charge against Shuffield, police upgraded the charges to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony, and unlawfully carrying a weapon.
In Shuffield's case, Dallas police sent their filed charges to the district attorney's office, which will present the case to a grand jury.
Days after Lee was punched multiple times and Shuffield was arrested, a small amount of protesters took to the streets of Deep Ellum.
When WFAA reported that Lee would soon be facing a felony charge, Dominique Alexander, an activist and founder of the Next Generation Action Network, said more protests would come.
On Twitter, Alexander said, "If this happens, we will shut down the Deep Ellum Arts Festival. #ENOUGHISENOUGH"
The Deep Ellum Arts Festival draws thousands every year to its diverse neighborhood and closes around 8 city blocks nearby.
An estimated 100 bands are scheduled to play, around 200 artists will be displaying work, and the festival will be celebrating its 25th anniversary.
"Dallas Police always finds a way to make a victim a suspect," Dominique Alexander said. "I know that the community will be outraged, and the community will protest."
"The leadership in Deep Ellum has not condemned racism and bigotry and violence against black women in their corridor."
Stephen Millard, the founder of the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, said that the free event is all about inclusion, but added that it would be a shame if it were disrupted in any way.
"This is a big year for us. 25 years in this iconic town has been wonderful," Millard said. "This is not a place for protest, this is a place of love. If people want to come and have a platform--then we'll work with them if they have something they want to express in a peaceful way."
"Our event is not political, it's about having a good time and loving your neighbor."