Vauhxx Booker’s attorney Katharine Liell announced in a Friday press conference on Zoom that Booker tested positive for COVID-19.
Booker said in the conference he was tested Wednesday and received positive results this morning. Liell said they determined Booker needed to get a COVID-19 test after the encounter at Monroe Lake because of the close proximity between him and his alleged attackers.
“It feels like a fire after a flood,” Booker said. "There is a part of me that wants to hold some sort of anger or animosity towards these individuals who may have infected me with this. It’s also human nature to try to make sense of something that in some ways can’t be affirmed easily.”
Contact tracing is being done, and Liell said they do not know whether any of the other people involved in the encounter, including the two men who were arrested today and the DNR officers, have been tested.
Booker and Liell are quarantining and monitoring themselves for symptoms.
Liell also commented at length about the DNR report released yesterday and the charges filed today against Sean Purdy and Jerry Cox.
“The prosecution of these individuals is necessary to send a clear and unequivocal message that hate crimes and acts violence committed against men and women simply because of the color of their skin is not only illegal but it is morally repugnant,” Liell said.
Booker said he has been victim-shamed and bullied online but has also been encouraged by many people in the community and around the world.
“We need to realize that we are all human and that this quest is for justice rather than vengeance,” Booker said. “I want us to realize that accountability, which is what I’m asking for, is not the same as punishment.”
Liell said Purdy’s charge of intimidation was from the prosecutor’s decision that there is probable cause to believe Purdy said “get a noose.”
Liell also pointed out that according to the report filed by DNR officers who responded to the encounter, Purdy and another man Ian Cherco gave some incorrect identifying information to an officer. Purdy gave a wrong middle initial and birth year, and Ian Cherco gave the officer a completely different name.
She also said that the report includes interviews with Purdy’s party after the night of the Fourth of July and does not give detail about what the people in Purdy’s party said on the night of July 4. The officers said in their reports of that night that Purdy and others in his party would not provide details about what happened when asked.
Liell addressed the denial of two DNR requests to interview Booker.
“There has been a lot of talk about Vauhxx Booker not giving follow up interviews to the DNR, and it’s because, based upon my advice, I don’t trust the DNR,” Liell said. “I don’t trust that they would get it right, and I don’t trust that they would fairly listen to what Vauhxx Booker had to say. He interviewed with them on the night of July 4. They didn’t listen to him then. He interviewed with them July 5 in the emergency room at the hospital. They didn’t listen to him then either.”
The DNR officers documented their conversations with Booker in their reports and everything the doctors told them. One of the officers wrote that Booker complained of a headache but not in a way that the officer interpreted it was severe. They said in their reports they did not see any injuries on Booker on the night of July 4, but Booker was diagnosed with a minor concussion, abrasions, bruisings and pulled out hair the next day.
Liell said Vauhxx did interview with the FBI , and said she trusts the FBI more than she trusts the DNR.
She said the DNR wrongly labeled the report released yesterday as “cleared by arrest” before any arrests were ordered or made. She said she believed the DNR did this purposefully to show Booker had possible charges against him before the prosecutor made a decision. Investigations are usually not released until arrests have been made. She said she has never seen law enforcement mislabel a report before.
“It is more than shameful, it needs to be investigated itself, the intentional misclassification of the status of the report so it could be leaked,” Liell said.
When asked if Booker hit anyone in Purdy’s party, Liell said if Booker hit Purdy or Cox, it was in self-defense.