A man turned himself in to authorities Dec. 10, three days after police issued a wanted alert for his arrest via social and news media.
Shurland Millington was charged this week with simple assault and reckless endangerment stemming from a January 2018 incident with Ronnessa Edwards, who says she is the victim of a hate crime.
Millington, 39, was released on his own recognizance Dec. 11 without having to pay any bail. His next court date is set for Jan. 10, according to court records.
Last month, Edwards reached out to PGN, expressing concern that as a lesbian, she was victimized by a violent hate crime, yet her assailant hadn’t been arrested. “I’m grateful that once PGN started asking questions, the police took more action,” Edwards said this week. “Other victims whose justice is being delayed should consider going to media outlets to get the police to do their jobs.”
In a Dec. 7 email, a Philadelphia police spokesperson said numerous attempts had been made to arrest Millington prior to police issuing a wanted alert. “Since obtaining the arrest warrant [in April], detective personnel have made numerous attempts to apprehend Mr. Millington,” wrote Capt. Sekou Kinebrew. “In addition, the warrant information has been provided to various patrol and special patrol components within the [police] department, including the Highway Patrol Unit. These entities have also made multiple attempts to locate and apprehend Mr. Millington.”
Ben Waxman, a spokesman for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, confirmed that a warrant for Millington’s arrest was approved in April. “Our office did approve an arrest warrant” for Millington on April 7, Waxman said. “Beyond that, this is still an active investigation and therefore I am unable to comment further.”
Edwards, 36, an investigator with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, provided the following version of events leading up to the alleged assault: On Jan. 27, she attended a dance party at DeLink Social Club on the 4100 block of Germantown Avenue. Millington also was in attendance and allegedly punched Edwards twice — on the left and right sides of her face — after she took a sip from a bottle of water that she thought belonged to a relative.
Millington “walked up to me and said something to the effect that it was his water,” Edwards told PGN. “I told him I could get him another bottle of water. The next thing I remember, he punched me twice in the face.”
In a brief phone interview with PGN Dec. 5, Millington said Edwards punched him first and that he acted in self-defense. “She punched me. I punched her back. It was a reflex,” he said. “She hit me pretty hard. There’s a mark on my face. I don’t allow people to hit me. People can’t get away with that.”
Millington said he would never punch someone over a bottle of water. “I didn’t punch her over a bottle of water. I didn’t know the girl. I had no idea what she was. I didn’t even know she was a girl. I thought she was a guy.”
Millington said he self-treated a facial injury allegedly caused by Edwards. “She left a big knot on my face. I had to [apply] ice.”
Edwards denied hitting or punching Millington. “I would never try to fight a man, especially not somebody that big,” she said. “I was having a good time, enjoying myself. There would be no reason at all for me to punch someone. I’m not a violent woman anyway. This [alleged assault] literally came out of of nowhere.”
Edwards said she is clearly a woman. “There is no mistaking me for a man. He’s being disingenuous when he claims he thought I was a man. I don’t see any other reason he would target me other than my LGBT status.”
Millington denied targeting Edwards for her sexual orientation. “I could care less what she has going on in her personal life. That has nothing to do with me. I’m not going to hit somebody because they’re a lesbian. I’m not into that.”
Edwards expressed hope that Millington will be charged with a hate crime. “I’m hoping they add hate-crime charges in the future. I firmly believe I was assaulted due to my LGBT status. I’m looking forward to closure through a successful prosecution and conviction.”
Waxman, the D.A.’s spokesman, declined to comment on the specifics of Millington’s prosecution, but said it’s possible to add charges to a case if evidence comes to light supporting the charges. “Generally speaking, we’re always open to new evidence and further investigation,” Waxman told PGN, “if there’s additional information that comes to light.”
Edwards said she was treated at the emergency room of Einstein Medical Center shortly after the assault for a concussion, scrapes and bruising to her face. Her right eye was swollen shut. She incurred about $600 in medical bills that weren’t covered by her insurance, she said.
“There were two days when I couldn’t work because of severe headaches,” she added. “For several months, I saw white flashes from the corner of my right eye.”
Millington, who declined to disclose his occupation, said that he has no prior criminal record. He said he has an attorney but declined to disclose the name.
Millington also said that he sees no need to apologize to Edwards because he is innocent.