July 16, 2020 / 3:46 AM / a month ago

Investigative report of Indiana lynching complaint delivered to prosecutors

(Reuters) - The Indiana law enforcement investigation of a hate-crime report lodged by a Black civil rights activist who said several white men tried to lynch him at a lakeside park was turned over to prosecutors on Wednesday for review, officials said.

The contents of the submission were not immediately made public. But the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is expected to evaluate evidence it received to decide whether to bring charges in the incident this month.

The investigative report was prepared by the law enforcement division of the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), whose officers were the first to respond to the confrontation in a wooded area along the shores of Lake Monroe near Bloomington, Indiana.

The agency said in a brief statement that its “report and findings” were presented on Wednesday to prosecutors. A spokesman declined to comment further.

The Monroe County prosecutor’s office acknowledged receiving the “extensive investigative reports, along with digital evidence.”

Vauhxx Booker, a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, said he and friends were at a public park on the lake on July 4 when he was grabbed by five white men who appeared to be drunk and accused Booker of trespassing.

The men dragged him to the ground and pinned him against a tree while punching him as one of his assailants yelled, “get a noose,” according to his account of the incident on Facebook.

A group of onlookers and Booker’s acquaintances, all of whom were also white, began filming the confrontation with cellphones and demanding the attackers release him, as one of the mob shouted back, “You get out of here, leave the boy with us.”

The attackers finally let Booker go, and he and his friends called for help. Video of the incident went viral on social media, sparking national outrage amid heightened U.S. racial tensions following the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man, under the knee of a white policeman in Minneapolis.

Booker, also a Black Lives Matters organizer, said he suffered a concussion, cuts and bruises and had patches of hair ripped from his head.

In a statement late on Wednesday, Booker and his attorney, Katharine Leill, welcomed conclusion of the DNR probe but criticized the agency for its “unnecessarily drawn out investigation,” saying arrests should have been made the night of the attack.

Booker also said he looked forward to results of a separate FBI investigation of the incident.

Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Robert Birsel

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