Dallas police say the main suspect in the violent beating of a transgender woman was offered $200 to carry out the attack.
Video of the attack, which went viral, showed 23-year-old Muhlaysia Booker being set upon by a mob of people and repeatedly punched and kicked as she attempted to protect herself. The attack allegedly followed an altercation stemming from a minor traffic accident.
Booker was beaten so severely that she lapsed into unconsciousness. She was later treated at a local hospital for a broken wrist and several face fractures.
Dallas police later arrested 29-year-old Edward Thomas, charging him with aggravated assault for his role in Booker’s beating. Police say they are trying to identify additional suspects from the video, reports BuzzFeed News.
According to the affidavit, and as can be heard in video obtained by police, Thomas was allegedly offered $200 to beat up Booker. Police say that while Thomas and several other men beat Booker, they yelled homophobic slurs at her, including: “That’s what your faggot ass gets,” “Get that faggot out of our hood,” and “Shoot that punk ass.”
According to the affidavit, Thomas admitted to the beating, but denied shouting slurs at Booker.
At a news conference earlier this week, Dallas Police Lt. Vincent Weddington confirmed that the incident is being reviewed to determine whether it meets the criteria for a hate crime, at which point Thomas could face bias enhancements, including harsher penalties, if found guilty of the assault.
Weddington called the video of the beating “disturbing” and said it “shocks the conscience.”
“This is being taken very seriously in our department,” Weddington said.
Booker thanked her friends for their support in a Facebook post, writing: Thank you to all my genuine friends that been with me through this journey and knowing the real me, knowing nobody deserves that.”
The attack was previously denounced by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who said the attack was not representative of how Dallas residents feel about members of the LGBTQ community.
“We will not stand for this kind of behavior,” Rawlings wrote in a statement on Facebook.