DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — A district judge has disqualified the Dallas County District Attorney’s office from a case that caught national attention earlier this year amid allegations of bias.
In a statement released by former Deep Ellum bartender Austin Shuffield’s attorneys, Scott Palmer and Rebekah Perlstein said they filed a motion to disqualify the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office due to the “bias” shown during the prosecution of the case.
Due to the bias the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office has shown in the prosecution of this case, the defense filed a motion to disqualify the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office has demonstrated that their office is unable to make objective decisions on this matter by their actions of clearly intending to enforce laws only when it benefits their cases.
District Judge Lela Mays granted the motion and former Dallas County Prosecutor Russell Wilson has been assigned as a special prosecutor.
The motion to disqualify was granted by District Judge Lela Mays. Former Dallas County Prosecutor Russell Wilson has been assigned as a special prosecutor. Mr. Wilson will now take over the case and the presentation of charges to the grand jury. It is our sincere hope that Mr. Wilson will not be swayed by public pressure and will seek justice, rather than a conviction by any means necessary, as is required by law.
Shuffield, 30, was arrested on March 21, after a brutal assault over parking in Deep Ellum was caught on camera.
The video showed Shuffield and the victim, 24-year-old Daijohnique Lee, in a heated argument, when Shuffield pulled out what appeared to be a gun and held it behind his back. After more words were exchanged, he smacked Lee’s cell phone out of her hand as she dialed 911. She then punched Shuffield, and he responded by reaching back, taking a boxer’s stance and punching her squarely in the jaw.
The video showed Shuffield violently hitting Lee four more times in the face and head.
Initially, Shuffield was arrested on three misdemeanor charges — assault, interference with 911 and public intoxication. But after activists began to demand the DA’s office to increase his charges, command staff reclassified Shuffield’s charge to a felony, making it a high-profile case.
Almost two weeks later on April 2, DPD issued a warrant for Lee for the destruction she caused to Shuffield’s car the night of the assault.
Before the warrant issued, Lee admitted to damaging Shuffield’s car after he provided documentation that the damage was over $3,000. That same day, activists protested the decision to prosecute Lee. One day later, District Attorney John Creuzot made the decision not to prosecute Lee for the felony offense.