Edward Thomas, 29, was arrested in connection to the brutal attack on a transgender woman in Dallas, Texas, which police say has been classified as a hate crime.
The attack occurred Friday, April 12 outside an apartment complex. It was recorded on a cellphone and has since gone viral on social media.
A suspect in a white shirt was seen jumping on top of the victim and punching her multiple times. Several others quickly joined in. The victim, identified as Muhlaysia Booker, suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized.
Update: KDFW-TV reported on May 19, 2019, that Booker was found shot to death early in the morning on Saturday, May 18. No arrests have been made. Citing police, reporter Lynnanne Nguyen shared on social media that there is no indication that Edward Thomas was involved in Booker’s death.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Police: The Victim Told Investigators She Was Attacked After Being Involved in a Minor Traffic Incident; the Video Shows a Large Crowd Gathered at the Apartment Complex Prior to the Assault
The violent attack happened at the Royal Crest Apartments on Wilhurt Avenue in Dallas on April 12, 2019, sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. Dallas Police interviewed the victim, identified as Muhlaysia Booker, around 11:30 that night at the UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Booker told police that she had been involved in a minor traffic accident at the apartment complex prior to the attack. The victim’s grandmother, Debra Booker, told Fox affiliate KDFW-TV that Booker had been visiting a friend at the apartment complex and accidentally backed into another vehicle. “The person got out of the car and then they started talking to their friends, and their friends started coming up.”
In the video, which can be viewed in full here, you can see Booker walking in the middle of the street and appears to be gesturing to the crowd that had gathered. It’s unclear what she was saying because she is drowned out by other voices located closer to the phone. The person recording briefly turned the camera on himself and others in the crowd before turning it back around to face the street.
2. The Victim Was Punched & Kicked Repeatedly, Even After Trying to Escape; She Told the Police the Attackers Also Used Homophobic Slurs
In the cellphone video, the suspect in the white shirt appears to approach Booker from behind but is partially obscured by other witnesses. He is then seeing tossing Booker onto the pavement. He straddles Booker on the ground and punches her repeatedly in the face and chest. You can see Booker flailing on the ground, trying to helplessly to shield her face from the incoming punches.
The video then shows several other people jump in and kick Booker multiple times. One man is seen stomping on her head. The man in the white shirt appears to drag her on the ground and continues to punch her head and body.
Booker finally manages to stand up and is hunched over as she tries to escape the crowd. But the man in the white shirt follows her and continues the assault, knocking her back down on the ground.
She later told investigators that the attackers had been using homophobic slurs.
3. A Group of Women Stepped In & Shielded Booker; She Was Hospitalized With Fractures to Her Face
The video shows that a group of women finally managed to rush in and shield Booker from further assault. They had to carry her away from the scene because she could no longer walk.
Dallas Police shared in a news release that Booker was transported to UT Southwestern Medical Center by witnesses. Investigators described Booker’s injuries as serious. Family members told WFAA-TV that Booker sustained fractures to her face and that her right arm was injured. Officers interviewed Booker at the hospital around 11:30 that night.
The mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, issued a statement the following morning condemning the attack. He wrote in part, “I am extremely angry about what appears to be mob violence against this woman… Those who did this do not represent how Dallasites feel about our thriving LGBTQ community. We will not stand for this kind of behavior.”
4. Dallas Police Arrested Edward Thomas & Charged Him With Aggravated Assault
Dallas Police shared on Sunday, April 14, that they had made an arrest in the assault. Edward Thomas was taken into custody around 9:30 p.m. and booked into jail shortly before midnight. He has since been released.
According to inmate records, he faces a charge of Aggravated Assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury. Under the Texas penal code, the charge is a second-degree felony. The potential punishment if convicted is a prison sentence between 2 and 20 years, and a fine up to $10,000.
Dallas police shared that the attack has been classified as a hate crime. It’s possible that further charges could be filed.
A search of online criminal records from the Dallas County Municipal Court brings up former assault cases against an Edward Dominic Thomas with the same listed birthday (1/12/1990) as the suspect arrested in this case. A 2009 case resulted in a guilty plea.
5. Muhlaysia Booker Posted on Facebook to Thank Supporters & Slammed Critics For Allegedly Claiming That She Had Instigated the Violence
The person who posted the video to Facebook tagged the victim, Muhlaysia Booker, in the post wish the hashtag #JUSTICEFORMUHLAYSIA. Many commenters posted messages of support and called for the attackers to be prosecuted. Others argued that the assault was not a hate crime; a man named Robert Mitchell wrote, “yall just want symapthy and fame.”
Booker took to Facebook to thank her friends and family members for supporting her, writing, “It’s a blessing being lucky enough to witness the love and respect I’m getting and thank you to all my genuine friends that been with me through this journey and knowing the real me knowing nobody deserves that.”
In a follow-up post, Booker appears to slam critics who may have insinuated that she instigated the attack. She wrote in part, “There’s no live videos of me attacking no cisgender woman !!!! I have too much love for in the streets for it let’s not get it confused of me arguing or embarrassing the two women that messed up my hair.” Friends added in the comments section messages including, “hey gone try to make u out to be the bad person… Don’t u let what these people say affect you,” and “f*ck what anyone has to say. What happened to you is inexcusable.You are beautiful inside and out and justice will be served. Stop explaining and get better beautiful.”
According to her Facebook page, Booker works as an entertainer at Dallas Cabaret and attended Louisiana State University. A GoFundMe page was also launched to assist Booker with medical bills.