(THE NEW YORK TIMES) — A man has been charged with aggravated assault for allegedly beating up a transgender woman in an attack of “mob violence” in Dallas that is being investigated as a possible hate crime, the authorities said.
The man, Edward Thomas, 29, was arrested late on Sunday, the department said in a statement. Mr. Thomas was allegedly among a group of people shown in a video assaulting the woman, whom the police did not identify, during the attack on Friday. The woman was seriously injured and taken to the hospital, the police said.
The woman had been driving when she was involved in a minor traffic accident in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Dallas, the police said. She and Mr. Thomas started to argue, and then Mr. Thomas “began to physically assault the victim,” the police said. Other suspects joined in the assault, which was “being flagged as a hate crime,” according to the police.
A video shows Mr. Thomas allegedly repeatedly punching the woman while she was on the ground, and as she tried, bent over, to get away, recordings posted on Facebook and WFAA, an ABC affiliate, showed. Other men in the crowd kicked her, before a group of women helped her to get away.
The attack happened between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., but officers did not interview the woman until about 11:20 p.m. when they were called to the hospital where she was being treated. “The victim stated that the suspects used homophobic slurs during the assault,” the statement said. The police declined on Monday to provide further information or details about the possible hate crime investigation.
Mr. Thomas was being held in jail on Monday on a charge of aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, according to county inmate records. He appeared in court on Monday to hear the charge and is being held on $75,000 bond, Judge Lisa Bronchetti said. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.
WFAA quoted an unidentified family member as saying the woman was treated for facial injuries. A relative told the NBC Dallas-Fort Worth station that she had been attacked before.
Attacks on transgender people have been rising, according to advocacy groups. At least 26 transgender people were killed last year, most of them black transgender women, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group.
In 2017, that number was 29, the most ever recorded, the group said.
Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas said in a statement after the attack that he was “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 L.G.B.T.Q. community,” he said. “We will not stand for this kind of behavior.