DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – One of the most popular entertainment districts in Dallas on a Saturday night is also the site of a major protest this evening.
People gathered in Deep Ellum to protest the charges that were given to a bartender who was caught on camera brutally attacking a woman in a parking lot on Thursday. Civil rights activists want the attack prosecuted as a hate crime.
The attack happened early Thursday morning near Elm and Crowdus streets after, police said, Austin Shuffield became upset at the way the woman parked.
Shuffield could be seen holding a handgun, swiping a cellphone away from the woman’s hands and punching her several times in the head.
He was arrested Thursday and charged with aggravated assault, public intoxication and interfering with a 911 call. He was later released after posting bond.
Protesters believe he deserves a harsher punishment.
“He absolutely took the aggression way too far,” Sarah Rhodes said.
Rhodes is in Deep Ellum Saturday night despite the plans for the protest by a civil rights group that threatened to shut down the entertainment district.
“I didn’t actually know it was going on. I’m not surprised, traffic is already bad enough to start with, so something like that is going to clog it up even worse so we probably won’t stay past 10,” Rhodes said.
Protesters want Shuffield, a former bartender at High and Tight Barbershop and Bar, to be charged with a hate crime after he allegedly called the victim racial slurs and made racist remarks during the incident.
The local activist who organized the protest said the victim is still struggling with her injuries, which include post-concussion syndrome and cranial swelling according to her lawyer.
“She had to go back into the hospital for some of the injures, and she’s going through… sharp pains,” organizer Dominique Alexander said.
The victim’s lawyer, Lee Merritt, said on Friday that he will be pursuing hate crime and felony assault charges.
Even though Shuffield could be seen displaying a handgun, he was not charged for threatening her with it.
Dallas police called the video deeply disturbing and responded by saying, “This is still an ongoing investigation, and it is imperative that we are thorough and deliberate.”