A group of men surrounded and beat a transgender woman in Dallas on Friday afternoon, repeatedly punching and kicking her in broad daylight as she tried to escape an attack that police are calling a possible hate crime.
"Officers spoke with the victim, a Transgender female, who had been assaulted by known suspects," a statement from the Dallas Police Department said. "The victim stated that the suspects used homophobic slurs during the assault."
The incident began after Muhlaysia Booker was in a minor traffic accident at the Royal Crest Apartments, police said..
Video posted by Facebook user Taj Mahal begins by showing Booker, in a pink wig, in the middle of an intersection with a huge crowd around her. It appeared as though Booker was addressing the crowd — she said later on Facebook that someone had taken her two phones — but because she was far from the camera and it was loud, it's unclear what she said.
The video then seems to flip to selfie mode, where two people address the camera — the person taking the video and a man in a white shirt and shorts.
"Fuck that ho," someone can be heard saying.
"Knock 'em out," the man in the white shirt appears to say.
The video then flips around and shows the man in a white shirt closing in on Booker, pummeling her to the ground and kicking her.
Booker tries to shield her face with her arms as other men joined in, kicking her when they got a chance.
Women in the crowd beg the men to stop, and Booker struggles to her feet, but the man wearing white pulls her backward and punches her in the face again and again.
Once Booker lurches to a patch of grass, several women intervene to carry her away.
"Carry that bitch out," someone can be heard saying.
"Lame ass, faggot ass, [unintelligible] bitch," a woman can be heard yelling toward the end of the footage.
The video doesn't show the lead-up to the assault and cuts off as Booker is being helped by others. Police confirmed the incident was captured on video.
Taj told BuzzFeed News he had heard a commotion while driving through the neighborhood and "happened to stop by" when assault began — later saying Booker was his close friend. In a follow-up message, he said he was her manager. He claimed he shot footage, but then, when asked about the apparent assailant appearing on camera with the cameraman, he said he instead obtained the video from the person who shot it. He also claimed it is two videos spliced together.
At a Dallas area hospital late Friday night, Police interviewed Booker and reported they are “reviewing all available evidence to determine if it will be classified as a hate crime.”
Booker had facial fractures and her right arm is in a sling after the incident, a family member told WFAA.
"He's a coward," Booker's father, Pierre, told NBC-DFW, adding that his daughter has faced hatred in the past for being transgender.
"All I tell them you know is I love them. I love them for whoever they are. And I'm not God, I'm not the judge, I'm not the jury," Booker's grandmother told NBC-DFW.
The attack has led to growing outcry, including from Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who wrote on Facebook, “I am extremely angry about what appears to be mob violence against this woman. I am in contact with the chief and she assured me that the Dallas Police Department is fully investigating, including the possibility that this was a hate crime."
“Those who did this do not represent how Dallasites feel about our thriving LGBTQ community,” he added. “We will not stand for this kind of behavior.”
Texas hate crime law does not cover gender identity, but a federal law, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, does enhance penalties for anti-transgender violence.
Police declined to provide additional information about their investigation on Sunday.
Transgender people — particularly transgender women of color — face exceptionally high rates of violence and homicide. The National Center for Transgender equality reports that more one in four trans people has faced a bias-driven assault.
On her Facebook page, Booker said on Saturday, “THANK YOU TO ALL MY GENUINE FRIENDS THAT BEEN WITH ME THROUGH THIS JOURNEY AND KNOWING THE REAL ME KNOWING NOBODY DESERVES THAT ❤️.”
She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.