The report released Thursday by the law enforcement arm of Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources is a muddied picture of a July 4 altercation in the woods replete with alcohol, fuzzy property lines and conflicting stories.
Friends of Vauhxx Booker, who has said that he was the victim of an unprovoked attack and alleged lynching, told officers that Booker was trying to play peacemaker after a drunk and rowdy group of revelers repeatedly yelled “white power.” They described the ensuing fight as a ganging up on Booker, who is Black, and recounted calls for a “noose” and to “break his arm.”
The revelers told officers a very different story, that Booker got aggressive when they told him he was on private property, and that a fight broke out when he invaded the personal space of one of the women in the group. They described Booker as throwing the lion’s share of the punches.
The report has now been handed over to the Monroe County prosecutor to decide whether to pursue charges. The FBI is also investigating the possible hate crime. Here are the highlights from the report:
A key point in the story is what Sean Purdy, one of the revelers, was wearing — a cowboy hat with a Confederate flag print. Multiple witnesses said that the hat upset Booker, when he first came across the group.
By their own admission, most of the revelers were fairly drunk by the time they encountered Booker and his friends. One of them, Jerry “Bubba” Cox, told officers that he had consumed a “12 pack” that day and “had a good buzz.”
Much of the initial conversation and belligerence centered on the property line between the private land owned by the family of one of the revelers and the public land surrounding the lake. Per officers who responded to the scene, the dividing line was not clearly marked.
There are 10 mentions of beer in the 68-page document. Sabrina Cox, one of the revelers, said she drank 10 beers and was “intoxicated.” Some of the witnesses say that Booker gave Purdy a beer after their initial conversation about the private property. A responding officer described the partiers: “Their eyes were bloodshot, their speech was slurred, and they had difficulty making conversation with me.”
Charges For All
The officers found grounds to potentially charge nearly everyone involved. Booker is listed with possible misdemeanor battery charges, as well as misdemeanor criminal trespass along with friend Ian Watkins. Of the other group, Cox is listed with a couple misdemeanor battery charges, and Purdy with misdemeanor battery and felony criminal confinement for pinning Booker down by a tree.
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