A small crowd gathered in front of the Monroe County Courthouse at 3 p.m. Thursday at a "Justice for Tracy" rally in support of Tracy Douglas of Temperance, who was involved in a fight that occurred last month in a Lambertville store parking lot.
Several people carried signs as Douglas' attorneys, Darnell Barton and Dionne Webster-Cox, held a press conference and addressed the incident, in which their client was seen on security footage assaulting another woman before being punched in the face by that woman's boyfriend, Dennis Landis of Woodville, Ohio.
Douglas, 59, believes the incident was racially motivated and has filed a federal civil lawsuit. Douglas is Black and Landis is white. Landis was charged with aggravated assault and Douglas was charged with assault and battery.
The group that attended Douglas' rally Thursday also claim local law enforcement officials made improper decisions based on race, an accusation the officials deny.
"We stand here today in support of Ms. Douglas. As you are aware, Ms. Douglas was a victim of a heinous crime. We do believe there were multiple crimes as it were. One was the initial beating that Ms. Douglas sustained," said Barton.
The Detroit attorney claims that the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and Monroe County Prosecutor's Office only filed charges against Landis after his office made multiple calls urging them to do so .
"It's been a problem. We've had to contact them several times just to get the charges, which we do not believe are the appropriate charges by the way," he said. "They have filed charges but what they didn't tell you is that the charges that they filed were after we had to constantly contact them."
Barton said the Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jahn Landis has now requested Douglas' medical records. Her lawyers state she suffered a broken nose and a concussion in the incident.
"At this point, we've all seen the videos and we're not stepping away from anything. What we want everyone to know is that regardless of what you may think of individual character, you need to understand violence against women is the cause of this rally," Barton said. "Protecting women is the root of this rally…The point is not Ms. Douglas specifically. The point is how are women going to be treated, should they be in the same situation."
Barton then addressed comments made by the deputy sheriff who responded to the August incident, stating that the remarks were racist and left Douglas to feel unsafe.
The deputy, who remains unnamed, could be heard in bodycam footage of the incident stating that he grew up in Detroit and "I'm more Black than you."
Monroe County Undersheriff Jeff Pauli acknowledged the statement was inappropriate and said the deputy is still under internal investigation and faces a discipline process. He added that some training and coaching has occurred with the deputy's supervisors and more formal training is planned for the near future.
Co-counsel Dionne Webster-Cox, a Southfield-based attorney, was next to speak on behalf of Douglas Thursday.
"I truly believe after I saw those tapes, everybody had been drinking," Webster-Cox said. "But what was the most disgusting, the most disturbing thing I saw was my client being restrained by one man and being socked in the face by another…"
Webster-Cox said that others involved in the incident should have been charged and said the purpose of the day's rally was to protect women who have been discounted.
"This will not be tolerated. This must be changed and for that we are here, and we will continue to fight," Webster-Cox said. "We will see justice for Ms. Douglas."
Douglas stood in silence as her legal counsel took questions following the conference that lasted less than 30 minutes.
This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: 'Justice for Tracy' supporters rally at courthouse