Woman hurt in parking lot altercation files civil rights complaint against responding deputy, body cam released
Body camera footage from the night of the incident is available in full at the bottom of this story.
LAMBERTVILLE, Mich. (WTVG) - A woman who suffered injuries during an altercation in a Lambertville, Michigan parking lot filed a civil rights violation complaint with the FBI after a deputy responding to the scene made comments the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office called “unacceptable” and inconsistent with the department’s values. Attorneys representing the woman tell 13abc they feel the prosecutor’s office is dragging its feet on filing charges against some of the other people involved in the altercation and plan to file a lawsuit against those involved as well as the responding deputies.
The sheriff’s office opened an internal investigation into the incident with the deputy and prosecutors have filed charges against the woman who was injured as well as a man who admitted to punching her. The department released more than an hour of footage in relation to the investigation Wednesday saying it was an attempt to bring clarity to the incident. You can watch full body camera footage in the videos below.
According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Tracy Douglas filed the civil rights complaint after a white deputy responding to the scene of the fight told Douglas, who is Black, “I’m from Detroit so I’m probably more Black than you, so you want to play the racial card.” The sheriff’s office said the deputy, who was not named, made the comment after Douglas questioned if she was being treated differently because of her race. As the deputy spoke to witnesses and those involved after he arrived to figure out what happened, Douglas was placed in the back of a police car and the others were not.
The fight happened in the parking lot of the Liquor Cabinet store in the 7000 block of Secor Road on August 20. The altercation began with a door ding but there are conflicting accounts as to who hit who. Douglas and another woman got into an argument that escalated into a physical altercation.
“After that, she started berating me saying racial slurs at me,” Douglas told 13abc last month. “She was very angry for some reason. I don’t know and I kept telling her ‘that’s not cool. You don’t use racial slurs to a black woman.’ I’m getting kinda irritated by it.”
Others joined and one man admitted to deputies that he punched Douglas. In the body camera footage released Wednesday, the man who punched Douglas said Douglas was beating up his girlfriend on the ground.
An ambulance later took Douglas to a Toledo-area hospital. The firm representing Douglas said she suffered a broken nose and a concussion in the altercation.
At the time of the incident, the sheriff’s office said no one was arrested due to conflicting statements from witnesses and those involved, as well as the inability at the time to review surveillance footage. The body camera footage released to 13abc Wednesday night shows the man admitting to the deputy on scene that he punched Douglas, saying “I drilled her like a champ.” The deputy is heard laughing in the body camera footage.
The sheriff’s office said Wednesday that investigators obtained surveillance footage of the incident in the parking lot on August 25 and filed the police report with the prosecutor’s office the next day. The statement from the office said investigators noted inconsistencies from the original statements those involved made at the time of the incident.
Court records show Douglas was charged with assault and battery and the man who admitted to punching her was charged with aggravated assault.
A PR firm representing Douglas said skepticism on the part of officials to charge the other people involved in the alleged assault caused Douglas’ counsel to factor race into the equation. The statement reads in part:
A Monroe Sheriff’s officer purports that the victim, Douglas, is responsible for being assaulted. While she was handcuffed, bleeding, and scared, a white deputy, according to Douglas, made several inflammatory remarks such as, “I’m Blacker than you! I grew up in SW Detroit, so I’m probably blacker than you,” which is the farthest thing from a “rescue” of a woman who had just been viscously assaulted.” The Monroe deputies demonstrated bad behavior by adding to Douglas’s fear of the lack of protection that night, as deputies allowed her assailants to roam free around the patrol car as she was confined. Deputies did not arrest the assailants but allowed them to walk around the car, laughing and cracking jokes as she bled less than 10 feet away.”
Douglas’ lawyers said the case is likely one with double standards.
“Where do we live when the victim is charged by the man who held her while she was assaulted and walks away without a second thought from the prosecutor?” asked Dionne Webster-Cox, co-counsel for Douglas.
The legal team representing Douglas held a press conference Thursday afternoon calling for prosecutors to file charges against the others involved in allegedly restraining Douglas. They are also demanding that officials hold the deputy who made the comments about her race accountable.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said that while the internal investigation is still open and pending final results, the deputy in question was “counseled and trained” as part of the department’s internal discipline process. The agency said it plans to provide additional implicit bias and cultural diversity training for all of its deputies.
“I want to be crystal clear. The Sheriff’s Office does not condone the comments made by the deputy the night of this incident,” Undersheriff Jeff Pauli said in a statement. “An internal investigation was conducted and the deputy involved is being dealt with according to our internal investigation and discipline process. It is correct for people to be upset and concerned with the comments. However, it is only fair to the deputy for the reader to watch all the videos and read all the reports to get a full grasp of what transpired the night of, and the days after.”
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