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Police in Dallas have arrested a 29-year-old man in the brutal beating of a transgender woman in an attack that was caught on cellphone video.
Dallas police say Edward Thomas was arrested at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday "for his role" in the attack. He was jailed on suspicion of aggravated assault, and records don't list an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Police, which are reportedly looking into the alleged assault as a possible hate crime, did not say whether anyone else would be arrested in the beating, which happened Friday in broad daylight in front of a crowd of people.
The woman, identified by her family as 23-year-old Muhlaysia Booker, told police she was attacked after a minor traffic accident, according to local station KXAS.
Another driver, who, according to The Dallas Morning News, was named as a suspect in Thomas' arrest warrant affidavit but who has yet to be arrested, allegedly ran the victim off the road to keep her from fleeing.
Booker reportedly told police the driver held her at gunpoint, demanding money to pay for the vehicular damage. Someone then allegedly offered Thomas $200 to beat Booker, the affidavit said, according to the Morning News.
A purported video shows a man in a white shirt viciously beating the woman, apparently into unconsciousness, while the crowd looks on and homophobic slurs are shouted.
Police say another suspect who has not yet been arrested was also involved in beating Booker, allegedly stomping on her face, according to the Morning News.
Booker suffered a concussion, facial swelling, and a fractured wrist, the local outlet reports.
"This don't need to happen to nobody else's kid, so we pray that everything comes out justifiable. We know the Lord works in mysterious ways," Muhlaysia's father, Pierre Booker said, as quoted by KXAS.
He added that it’s not the only time his daughter has faced issues with being transgender.
Meanwhile, her grandmother, Debora Booker, said she’s happy that police are looking into whether the assault could be classified as a hate crime.
“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. So all I pray is for these people to find it in their hearts to accept people just like God does,” she told KXAS.
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman who is an education and advocacy coordinator at the Resource Center in Dallas, called the attack "terrifying."
"You could just feel the energy and the malevolence of this crowd escalate as the violence ensued and there was no voice standing up saying stop," McMurray, who wasn't present during the attack, told WFAA. "There's no reason that our lives are less valuable than someone else or that we should be someone's punching bag just because we're transgender."
Last November, the FBI reported that 7,175 hate crimes were committed in the United States in 2017, the most recent year for which the agency had compiled data. Of those, 1,130 were based on sexual orientation bias and 119 on gender identity bias. The data showed a 5 percent increase in hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation bias and a 4 percent decrease in hate crimes motivated by gender identity bias. Of crimes motivated by gender identity bias, 106 targeted transgender people, a 1 percent increase from 2016.
Thomas was, as of Monday, being held in the Dallas County Jail, and bail had not been set yet, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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