A Black man in Indiana who accused two White men of attacking him last year and then was himself charged in connection to the incident is calling for the special prosecutor on the case to resign, reports NBC News.
Vauhxx Booker, a local activist who lives in Bloomington, accused Sean Purdy and Jerry Edward Cox of assaulting him on July 4, 2020, while on his way to a park with some friends.
During the incident, Booker said one of his attackers used a slur and yelled for someone to “get a noose.”
Purdy told state investigators at the time that the dispute began after he told Booker and his friend that they were on private property. He claimed that Booker had punched him during their dispute.
Purdy and Cox were both arrested, and Monroe County prosecutor Erika Oliphant charged them with criminal confinement, intimidation and battery; all felonies. Soon after the charges were filed, Oliphant recused herself from the case and special prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp took over.
At the time of the incident, state investigators released a report which stated that they found evidence of multiple crimes by Purdy and Cox, but also by Booker. The report said Booker could be potentially charged, but Oliphant had declined to do so.
On Friday, however, Leerkamp charged Booker with felony battery and misdemeanor criminal trespass.
Booker slammed the charges and accused Leerkamp of retaliating against him because he refused to participate in a mediated resolution with his attackers. At a press conference on Monday, Booker explained that he was initially open to resolving the case but backed out after he was told he would have to sign a confidentiality agreement and publicly forgive Purdy and Cox.
“I’m not going to back down from this. I’m not going to just let these folks go on about their life like they didn’t victimize me,” he said. “I’m going to stand up for myself.”
Booker and his attorneys are calling for Leerkamp’s resignation.
“Once again, there’s nothing more American than charging a Black man in his own attempted lynching,” Booker told reporters. “I wasn’t surprised because for the entire year the special prosecutor has pressured and bullied me at every turn that if I didn’t … let charges be dismissed that she would charge me.”
“It wasn’t out of any new evidence or any shocking revelation. It was simply that, once again, I was telling a white person no and they were going to punish me,” he added.