Black Man Allegedly Assaulted by White Men Charged With Trespassing, Battery in Incident

A Black man in Indiana who was allegedly assaulted by a group of white men is being charged with trespassing and battery over a year after the confrontation, the Associated Press reported.

Vauhxx Booker, a local civil rights activist and a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, is charged with misdemeanor trespass and felony battery for his involvement in the July 4, 2020, incident at southern Indiana's Lake Monroe, according to court documents. The group of men allegedly threatened to "get a noose."

Booker called the decision an "outrageous act of punitive retaliation and prosecutorial vindictiveness."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Black Man Charged With Trespassing, Assault
A Black man who said a group of white men assaulted him and threatened to "get a noose" at a southern Indiana lake is facing criminal charges more than a year after the confrontation. Above, police tape blocks a crime scene on January 12 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

"This incident has been a continual case of a victim being re-victimized by the system," Booker's legal team said in a statement Monday. "It is the victim in this assault—Vauhxx Booker—who is being made to pay for having stood his ground against malicious racist name-calling, physical assault, and threats against his life."

The alleged assault gained national attention last summer when Booker said he called 911 after five men assaulted him and pinned him to a tree at the lake just south of Bloomington. He said that the men accused him of trespassing on private property and that, after he tried to apologize, the situation got physical.

The men threatened to break his arms and said, "Get a noose," telling his friends to leave the area, according to Booker. He said that one of the men wore a hat decorated with a Confederate flag and that the men made statements about "white power."

Witnesses who were with Booker that day said they heard racial slurs being shouted and that someone said "get a noose" and "leave the boy here, we will take care of him." Cellphone video posted on Facebook that showed part of the altercation was viewed millions of times online.

The FBI said it was investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, although no further updates have been provided about the investigation.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), which responded to the reported assault, recommended charges against everyone involved.

Monroe County prosecutors charged only two white men, however. Sean Purdy faces charges of felony criminal confinement, battery resulting in moderate bodily injury and intimidation. Jerry Cox II was charged with felony criminal confinement and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, as well as two misdemeanors.

Cox and Purdy claimed Booker was trespassing and denied the allegations regarding a noose. Both maintain that Booker threatened them first, and their lawyers have said the two men are victims of a "smear campaign." The case against Cox and Purdy is still pending, awaiting a trial date.

Monroe County Prosecutor Erika Oliphant recused herself from the case in response to public concern about whether she was impartial.

The charges against Booker, filed in Monroe Circuit Court by special prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp, are the same recommended by IDNR investigators last summer. An initial hearing is set for September 14.

Black Man Charged With Trespassing, Battery
A police car heads to the scene of a reported shooting outside a hotel and casino in Las Vegas on June 1, 2020. Bridget Bennett/Getty Images