Dallas Police have been under fire after they elected to charge the Black woman who was captured on video being brutally beaten in what is believed to have been a racially motivated attack.
Although the charge against L’Daijonique Lee was dropped, Dallas police chief Renee Hall but still believes that officers made the right call when they charged her with a felony for breaking a window on her alleged attacker’s truck.
“Let’s start with talking about the emotions of the people,” Hall said, according to local station KDFW-TV. “In law enforcement to see a woman — I’m a woman — get beaten by a man so violently, we’re angry. I’m angry.”
But although feels sympathy for Lee, Hall said as police chief she’s required to determine right and wrong even when tempers are high. So even though suspect Austin Shuffield committed the assault, that did not give Lee the legal right to break the windows on his truck, she said.
“He wanted to press charges, and that is our responsibility as law enforcement,” she explained. “The day we start picking and choosing which crimes we will and won’t push forward is the day we become the corruption that some police, or some people believe, that the police department is.”
Officers charged Lee with a felony, but Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot rejected the case.
“Could we have handled that situation differently from a communication standpoint with the district attorney? Absolutely,” Hall concedes, pointing out that in hindsight she wish she’d been more hands-on internally and externally, with the case.
“The district attorney and myself should have had a conversation. This was an area where we should have talked personally to make sure we were executing something that he was willing to push forward.”
Hall concluded by assuring the community that her new Community Police Oversight Board – that the Dallas City Council will vote on later this month – could make a difference in how effective high profile and emotionally charged cases are handled.
“If we had that oversight board alongside of us, they would have been able to communicate where our intentions were and where our heart was and not the perception that somehow this was nefarious in its intent,” she said.