Special Prosecuting Attorney Sonia Leerkamp made a motion to dismiss all charges regarding a racist confrontation in 2020 at Lake Monroe between Sean Purdy, Jerry Cox and Vauhxx Booker, according to a case file released May 18.
The case was resolved through restorative justice, which is a process of understanding, accountability and repairing harm to victims, according to the Center for Community Justice in the case file. After all individuals agreed to the restorative justice process, Purdy and Cox accepted personal responsibility for their actions as the Center for Community Justice facilitated discussion. It is the first time a case has used restorative justice in Indiana.
In a dispute over whether or not Booker was trespassing on Purdy’s property in the summer of 2020, Purdy and Cox physically assaulted Booker and yelled racial slurs.
Purdy was charged with criminal confinement with bodily injury, battery with moderate injury and intimidation. Cox was charged with aiding, inducing or causing criminal confinement and battery, as well as two counts of battery and intimidation, which are misdemeanors.
Booker was later charged with battery resulting in a moderate bodily injury and a misdemeanor of criminal trespassing following a recommendation from the Indiana Department of Resources that all three men should be charged in July 2021.
Purdy wrote in his restorative justice experience that despite viewing the confederate flag, which was printed on his hat during the confrontation, as a symbol of the South, he has since learned the symbol is racially charged. He said his actions were done out of misunderstanding.
Cox wrote he regretted being verbally abusive to Booker. He said he initially doubted the restorative justice process, but said he has learned more about himself and others.
Booker wrote he engaged in the restorative justice process to bring peace after two years of legal proceedings. He said restorative justice helps improve racial equity and emphasizes the sanctity of life.
“Though there’s much to be said, I chose to reserve today for peace and reflection,” Booker said on Twitter May 19. “My gratitude to those who have continued to offer support to my family and me throughout this process.”