DALLAS — 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 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, but said the case is being investigated as a hate crime. The woman told police she was attacked after a minor traffic accident.
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. Several women eventually carried the victim’s limp body to safety.
Family members told Dallas television station WFAA that the woman suffered facial fractures and injured her right arm in the attack.
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% increase in hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation bias and a 4% decrease in hate crimes motivated by gender identity bias. Of crimes motivated by gender identity bias, 106 targeted transgender people, a 1% increase from 2016.