BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — The man at the center of a July 4, 2020, attack near Lake Monroe on Monday called for his criminal charges to be dropped and the special prosecutor to step down.
Vauhxx Booker was charged Friday in Monroe Circuit Court 2 with battery and criminal trespassing.
Booker claims to have been the victim of a hate crime near Lake Monroe. Since then, the men Booker claims to have attacked him, Sean Purdy and Jerry Edward Cox, have been charged in the attack. Each face charges including criminal confinement, battery, and intimidation. Now more than a year later, a special prosecutor has charged Booker with battery and criminal trespassing in connection to the incident.
“Now, it has taken the outrageous step of charging Booker, the victim, as a felon. He faces up to 3½ years in prison and $15,000 in fines for being subjected to a racist assault,” said Guy Loftman, an attorney with the Monroe County Branch NAACP.
The original investigation by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources did not call for charges to be filed against Booker or the two men he accused of attacking him.
One of Booker’s attorneys claimed in a news conference Monday that the narrative that one of the men pushed Booker first, then Booker punched him, is proof that Booker was acting in self-defense.
News 8 carried the news conference live on Facebook.
When questioned about the punch later in the news conference, Booker backtracked and said that the narrative was not true and that he did not punch the man after being pushed, but rather he walked away only to be attacked from behind.
“This has been humiliating and defeating. I had just moved to a new city. I was looking forward to starting a new job, to moving forward with my life, and I am dragged back to into this moment. For some folks, it was a year ago. For me, it has happened every day,” Booker said.
Booker says the special prosecutor assigned to the case, Sonia Leerkamp, is only pressing the charges against him because he wouldn’t agree to drop the case and the charges against the other men and do a joint news conference with her.
“I don’t care if she wants to drag me back to the hanging tree herself, I am not going to back down from this. I am not going to just let these folks go on about their lives like they didn’t victimize me, like their crime didn’t impact an entire community. I am going to stand up for myself,” Booker said.
As for the criminal trespassing charges, Booker’s attorneys claim he was only on private property while passing through to get to where his other friends were; he says the altercation happened on public property.
Booker is also claiming that Natural Resources conservation officers did not follow proper protocol when responding to the scene initially, by first talking to the group of people Booker accused of attacking him before ever coming to talk to Booker, the person who called 911.
“This is systemic racism in action at every step. White officers and the white special prosecutor give white folks the benefit of the doubt and all of the sympathy,” Loftman said.
Booker and his team of attorneys say they plan to challenge the charges and are asking for the special prosecutor to step down.
A court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 13. Booker’s attorney says she plans to file for pleadings that would challenge the new charges before that date.
Purdy and Cox claim Booker instigated the incident. They are due back in Monroe Circuit Court 2 on Aug 20.