NewsPublic Affairs / July 16, 2020

Investigators List Potential Crimes In Indiana Assault Case

The Monroe County Courthouse

The Monroe County Courthouse

CASEY SMITH - Associated Press/Report for America

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State investigators identified six potential crimes Thursday in an incident report concerning the reported assault on a Black man at a southern Indiana lake.

Vauhxx Booker, a local civil rights activist and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, said five white men pinned him against a tree, shouted racial slurs and one of them threatened to “get a noose” at Monroe Lake near Bloomington over Independence Day weekend.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources responded to the scene on the day of the alleged assault and released the 68-page document to The Associated Press Thursday following a public records act request.

Sean Purdy — whose lawyer spoke out Monday saying Booker has been “putting forth a false narrative” about what happened — is listed as facing potential charges of felony criminal confinement and misdemeanor battery against Booker. Booker himself is named as potential victim, as well as a suspect on charges of battery and criminal trespassing against Purdy and another man involved in the incident, Jerry Cox. Cox could also face misdemeanor battery charges, according to the DNR recommendations.

Investigators “determined there was evidence of multiple crimes” after conducting more than a dozen interviews with witnesses and those involved in the physical altercation. Video footage from cellphones was also gathered and reviewed.

No charges have been filed yet, but the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office is now reviewing the evidence and weighing potential charges, said Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Kehr. The FBI confirmed it also is still investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.”

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