Community activists are calling for felony charges against a Dallas man who violently beat a woman after she tried to call 911 on him.
Police say Austin Shuffield, 30, got into a heated argument with an unidentified 24-year-old woman whose car was blocking the exit to a parking lot behind the barbershop and bar where he worked.
Shuffield got out of his truck and stopped the woman’s car because she was driving the wrong way and blocking the exit to the parking lot.
The woman told police she parked her car in the parking lot, and was getting out of it when Shuffield approached her.
A bystander recorded cell phone video of the ensuing argument. The video shows Shuffield holding a handgun at his side.
When the victim attempts to call 911, Shuffield is seen slapping the phone out of her hand. The woman then slapped or pushed him, and he punched her 5 times in the head and face with the same hand holding the gun (pistol whipping).
Shuffield then kicked the woman’s phone across the parking lot.
He was later arrested and charged with assault, interference with an emergency call and public intoxication – all misdemeanors. He posted $1,500 bond and was released overnight Friday.
According to the victim’s attorney, Lee Merritt, the woman suffered a concussion and intracranial swelling (brain swelling). She was treated at a hospital and released on Thursday.
Merritt said he is pursuing felony assault charges and hate crime charges against Shuffield.
Shuffield was fired from the 1920s-themed High and Tight Barbershop and Speakeasy where he worked as a bartender.
According to WFAA, the victim told police Shuffield yelled racist slurs at her.
“He just kept hitting me,” the woman told WFAA. “I’m glad I’m still alive because I could have died last night.”
The victim said she has received death threats on social media.
Community activists say the charges against Shuffield, who is white, are not serious enough because he wielded a gun while committing the violent act against a Black woman.
“We want to see a hate crime and an aggravated assault come from DPD,” said Dominique Alexander, founder of the Next Generation Action Network.
She said they will shut down the historically racist Deep Ellum neighborhood if felonies aren’t filed against Shuffield.
“We are demanding that District Attorney John Creuzot charge Mr. Shuffield with a hate crime and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon,” Alexander said. “Those are both felonies. Those charges are adequate with what we saw.”
Kim Leach, a spokeswoman for the D.A.’s office, said they are requesting additional information from the Police Department, the Dallas News reports.
District Attorney John Creuzot said he understands the frustration, and he has been working to fix the current system for setting bonds.
He said he’s been pushing for judges to allow prosecutors into the courtroom when bonds are set.
“Had we been present and had known more about it, it’s possible we would have asked his bond to be higher,” Creuzot said.
Chief U. Renee Hall angered activists when she said she hadn’t seen the violent video footage.
“I have not seen the video or anything related to it,” Chief Hall said. “I just know a video exists.”
“It’s problematic that in the last 24 hours, Chief Hall has not seen the video,” Alexander told WFAA.
Activists protested outside the barbershop on Friday. A rally calling for justice for the victim is being held Saturday with a scheduled time of 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
In a cryptic video, rapper T.I. called on Dallas rappers to take matters into their own hands after “training and practicing all this gangsta sh-t for all these years.” He added, “It’s time!”