A man has been arrested in connection with the brutal beating of Muhlaysia Booker, a 23-year-old transgender woman, in Dallas, TX. The assault, which began after a minor traffic accident on Friday, was caught on camera and went viral over the weekend.
Edward Thomas, 29, was charged with aggravated assault on Sunday evening. His bond was set for $75,000. Though gender identity is not covered under the state's hate crimes law, the Dallas Police Department is investigating that possibility since federal law allows penalties for violence against transgender people. Authorities said there could be more arrests.
"I am extremely angry about what appears to be mob violence against this woman," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement. He added: "Those who did this do not represent how Dallasites feel about our thriving LGBTQ community. We will not stand for this kind of behavior."
Police said the altercation began after a traffic accident at the Royal Crest Apartments. Video footage shows how a large group of people surrounded Booker outside the apartment complex's parking lot. Then, a man in a white t-shirt began punching her over and over again, before kicking her while she was on the ground. Several others joined the assault, dragging Booker across the parking lot. The video ends with three women helping Booker. (Due to the graphic nature of the footage, Refinery29 is not embedding the video or linking to it.)
Booker suffered facial fractures and an injury on her right arm, according to her family. She told the authorities that she knew her assailants, who used homophobic slurs while attacking her.
Transgender women, particularly those who are women of color, face disproportionately high levels of violence. At least 22 transgender people were killed between January and November 2018, according to a Human Rights Campaign Foundation report published in the fall. The organization said 82% of the victims in that period of time were women of color. The final number of trans women murdered in 2018 was 24, according to TransGriot reporter Monica Roberts. (The tally could be higher because it's often hard to track cases of violence against transgender people due to the misgendering of victims.) This year, two Black transgender women, Dana Martin and Ashanti Carmon, have been murdered.