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Body camera video shows White deputy tell Black woman in Michigan he is ‘more Black’ than her

<i>Barton Law
Barton Law

By Justin Gamble, CNN

A Black woman in Michigan says a Monroe County sheriff’s deputy racially discriminated against her when responding to a fight between the woman and a White couple outside a liquor store in Lambertville, Michigan, according to a federal civil rights suit filed Monday.

Police body camera footage of officers’ response to the incident obtained by CNN shows Tracy Douglas being questioned by a deputy about the details of the fight. The lawsuit identifies the deputy as Jack Hall. A statement from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department confirms that he is Caucasian.

The video begins with the White deputy warning Douglas, who appears to have blood on her shirt, “you’re going on the ground,” if she touches the deputy again. She responds, “Am I really? Because I’m Black?” Hall retorts, “what the f*** does that have to do with anything?”

He then instructs Douglas to sit in his car and asks her where she is from. After she says she’s from Temperance, Michigan, he says “OK, I’m from Detroit, so I’m probably more Black than you, so you want to play the race card?”

While the deputy ordered Douglas to sit in his vehicle, the White couple involved in the altercation were not placed in a police car for questioning. In the body camera video, Hall is also heard telling Douglas “You’re gonna be OK … I want to get you justice.”

The sheriff’s department told CNN in a statement ” … after the initial exchange, the deputy was highly effective at deescalating and diffusing a volatile situation while also arranging medical care for Ms. Douglas.”

According to a police report of the incident obtained by CNN, Hall wrote, “The female grabbed me several times to get my attention. I told the female to not grab me since she was covered in blood.”

“I was able to calm the subject enough to have her sit in the rear seat of my patrol car, so I could talk to the other subjects,” he added. His report says eight other people were present.

“They never treated her as if she was a victim,” Douglas’ attorney, Darnell Barton, told CNN. Barton said it speaks volumes that the officer didn’t understand in the moment how his comment was offensive, especially given it was made to a Black woman who was bleeding and crying and asking the deputies for help.

The sheriff’s department said in a statement that the deputy was “trying to separate Ms. Douglas and prevent her from advancing on the gathering in an effort to avoid further injury,” and stated that “race played no part in that decision, rather it is a standard technique to safely separate parties in conflict as was occurring during this incident.”

CNN has not been able to reach Hall for comment.

The sheriff’s department said in a statement the comments made by Hall were “unacceptable,” but were made “in the heat of the moment” in response to him being questioned about whether he was treating Douglas differently because of her race. “In that brief moment, the deputy used an unprofessional comment,” the statement says.

The sheriff’s department has launched an internal investigation into the response of deputies to the incident, a statement from the department says.

Both Lambertville and Temperance are about 60 miles southwest of Detroit.

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