Indiana Prosecutor Charges Two Men After Alleged Attempted Lynching

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA, UNITED STATES - 2020/07/14: Graffiti saying Justice for Vauhxx, Make racists afraid again seen on the causeway near the McCord property where Vauhxx Booker was assaulted on the 4th of July at Monroe Lake.The Indiana Department of Natural Resources released its investigation into a July 4th incident and recommended charges against several, including Booker. Booker, who is Black, says he was the victim of an attempted lynching. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA, UNITED STATES - 2020/07/14: Graffiti saying Justice for Vauhxx, Make racists afraid again seen on the causeway near the McCord property where Vauhxx Booker was assaulted on the 4th of July at Mo... BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA, UNITED STATES - 2020/07/14: Graffiti saying Justice for Vauhxx, Make racists afraid again seen on the causeway near the McCord property where Vauhxx Booker was assaulted on the 4th of July at Monroe Lake. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources released its investigation into a July 4th incident and recommended charges against several, including Booker. Booker, who is Black, says he was the victim of an attempted lynching. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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July 17, 2020 4:29 p.m.

Monroe County Prosecutor Erika Oliphant on Friday announced charges against two of the men involved in the alleged assault and attempted lynching of Vauhxx Booker outside of Bloomington, Indiana on July 4.

Oliphant is charging Sean Purdy with criminal confinement, battery resulting in moderate bodily injury and intimidation — all felonies.

Jerry “Bubba” Cox is facing charges of aiding, inducing or causing a criminal confinement and battery resulting in bodily injury, both felonies, along with misdemeanor intimidation and battery.

Oliphant said she has requested warrants for the men’s arrest. If convicted, both men could spend years in prison.

The charges are more serious than those suggested by the law enforcement arm of Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources in a report released Thursday that was the culmination of their investigation and interviews of those involved in the incident. The DNR listed potential misdemeanor battery and felony criminal confinement for Purdy and a couple misdemeanor battery charges for Cox. They also suggested possible charges for Booker and his friend.

“We are obviously disappointed with the first-term Monroe County prosecutor’s
evaluation of this case and her unfortunate decision to charge Sean Purdy while
choosing not to file criminal charges against his trespassing assailant,” Purdy’s lawyers said in a statement. They added that they “welcome” the trial by jury and will fight for his exoneration.

It is unclear whether Cox has legal representation.

Katharine Liell, Booker’s attorney, expressed “relief” at the news of the charges.

“We will watch closely to ensure that the individuals arrested for perpetrating this disgusting and sickening attack against Mr. Booker are duly punished,” she said in a statement.

Liell Thursday had called the DNR’s finding of potential charges against Booker – misdemeanor battery and criminal trespass — “inexcusable” and “immoral,” proof of the systemic racism inherent in law enforcement.

She raised further issues with the DNR during a Friday press conference, accusing the department of intentionally mislabeling the case as “cleared by arrest” in order to leak it ahead of the prosecutor’s charges.

“They intended to malign the character of Vauhxx Booker by even suggesting that he had committed any battery that night,” she said.

In a 68-page report, the DNR collected interviews from members of both groups that ultimately came to blows in the wooded area near Lake Monroe. Booker only talked to officers at the scene after calling 911, but his friends gave accounts of him trying to play peacemaker after a group of drunken revelers allegedly shouted “white power” repeatedly. Booker’s friends said that the revelers attacked him when his back was turned, pinning him down near a tree and calling for a “noose” and to “break his arm.”

The revelers told a very different story, claiming that Booker was the aggressor after they told him he was on private property and that his intimidation of a woman in the group spurred Purdy and Cox to respond. They claimed that Booker started the fight, and that the other two were merely trying to subdue him.

Read the charging document here:

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