Purdy and McCord said, according to their lawyers, that Booker was on private property. Hennessy said after they informed Booker of the property line, his clients thought the situation was resolved. Hennessy contends that hours later, Booker again approached Purdy, McCord and a group of others. They say Booker threatened them, saying he was a county commissioner. That’s when Booker “jabbed a finger” in McCord’s face and proceeded to punch Purdy three times, Hennessy said.
“If you go on a neighbor’s property and start punching people, you can be restrained. And (Booker) ended up against a tree,” Hennessy said, arguing that Booker was not attacked. “No talk of a noose, no talk of a rope, no talk of a lynching. No white power.”
Hennessy said neither Purdy nor McCord heard or said “get a noose,” but that “some racially insensitive stuff” was said by people known to them. When asked, Hennessy said his clients know the people and condemn the language used.
“There is a grand awakening regarding racial injustice happening in all of our communities. This is long overdue. It is deplorable that a person would be targeted because of his or her race,” Hennessy said. “It is equally deplorable for a person to use his race as a weapon and to arouse public passion over a false allegation.”
Booker has said he was pinned to a tree at the lake just south of Booker’s hometown of Bloomington and that the group of five men accused him of trespassing on private property. After he tried to apologize, he said the situation got physical. Booker said the men threatened to break his arms and said “get a noose,” while telling his friends to leave the area. Booker also said one of the men had a hat with a Confederate flag on it and that the men made statements about “white power.”
Much of the assault that followed was captured on cellphone video by people Booker had met up with that day. Booker said he suffered a minor concussion, cuts, bruises and had patches of his hair pulled out.
Hennessy said there is more video that the public has not seen that will provide proper context but that neither he nor his clients possess the footage.
Purdy and McCord were at the news conference but did not speak. Their lawyers said they are cooperating with law enforcement.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which responded to the reported assault, is still investigating what happened, officials said Monday. The FBI confirmed it still is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.