The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office reprimanded a deputy who was heard telling a Black woman that he was “blacker” than her because he hails from Detroit. According to The Associated Press, Tracy Douglas had been hit in the face when the unidentified deputy made that comment.
Douglas, who has since filed a civil rights complaint with the FBI, was hit in the face after she got into a physical altercation with a couple on August 20. The confrontation reportedly happened outside a liquor store in Lambertville.
The individuals got into the physical altercation after Douglas allegedly damaged the side of another vehicle with the passenger door of a car she was occupying. Douglas subsequently got into an argument with a woman in the car before they ended up fighting. During the altercation, a man authorities said was the boyfriend of the woman Douglas was fighting with, struck the Black woman in the face.
A Monroe County sheriff’s deputy later responded to the scene. And in his body camera footage, the deputy is seen conversing with Douglas and registering his displeasure with the Black woman allegedly slapping him.
“Listen, you slap me again, you’re going on the ground,” the deputy tells Douglas. “Am I? Am I, really? Cause I’m Black?” Douglas replies.
The deputy is also heard asking Douglas for her place of residence. And after the 59-year-old Black woman responds, the deputy is heard saying, “OK, I’m from Detroit. So, I’m probably more Black than you. So, you want to play the race card?”
“You ain’t Blacker than me,” Douglas says. Detroit is a predominantly Black city.
Authorities later launched an investigation into the encounter after Douglas complained about the incident on social media.
“The deputy’s comments were made in the heat of the moment and in response to being questioned by Ms. Douglas as to if he was treating her differently because of her race,” the sheriff’s office said. “In that brief moment, the deputy used an unprofessional comment. However, after the initial exchange, the deputy was highly effective at deescalating and diffusing a volatile situation while also arranging medical care for Ms. Douglas.”
The sheriff’s office also said that the deputy has since received training and counseling from his supervisors, adding that all deputies will also undergo implicit bias and cultural diversity training.
On Thursday, Douglas’ attorney, Darnell T. Barton said that the woman who fought Douglas stirred up the altercation. Barton claimed the woman hurled a racial slur at Douglas when she told the Black woman to provide insurance information, The Associated Press reported. Douglas also claimed she suffered facial injuries after the woman’s boyfriend punched her.
In bodycam footage, the man is heard telling the deputy that he punched Douglas after the law enforcement official asks who hit the Black woman. “Me, I drilled her. Drilled her like a champ, dude. She was beating on my girlfriend on the ground,” he is heard saying.
Footage also shows the deputy wrestling Douglas to the ground after he alleges the Black woman had pushed him. Douglas is also heard telling the deputy that he was attempting to identify the man who hit her.
Douglas and the man have since been charged in connection with the altercation.