Group will protest treatment of Georgia woman during 2019 traffic stop

Published 12:32 pm Monday, May 17, 2021

SALISBURY — A group of local residents say they’ll rally Saturday outside of the Rowan County Courthouse and hold a news conference in response to an excessive force lawsuit filed by a Georgia woman.

Women For Community Justice, a Salisbury-based advocacy group, says the rally will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at 232 North Main St. Participants then plan to march on sidewalks to the Salisbury Police Department, City Hall and Rowan County Administration Building.

“I am exhausted with seeing Black bodies abused, tortured and sometimes killed by police officers for minor traffic infractions or other incidents that should not end in death.” Rev. Regina Dancy said in a news release.

The incident that’s become the subject of a federal lawsuit occurred after Rowan County Sheriff’s deputies and Salisbury Police officers attempted to stop a Georgia woman named Stephanie Bottom, who was driving on Interstate 85. A Sheriff’s Office report states a deputy attempted to stop Bottom May 30, 2019, for going 80 mph in a 70 mph zone near Julian Road. The chase ended 14 miles later in Davidson County after a Rowan sheriff’s deputy used a tire deflation device called Stop Sticks on Bottom’s vehicle.

Police body camera video shows Bottom being pulled out of her vehicle and onto the ground by her hair by police officers and sheriff’s deputies. Her lawsuit says officers tore her rotator cuff when they pulled her arms behind her back.

Bottom says she didn’t immediately stop because she feared police and didn’t notice the cars initially because she was playing loud music.

Salisbury-Rowan NAACP President Gemale Black said law enforcement officers should serve and protect.

“Law enforcement officers and sheriff’s deputies are held to a certain standard and they should live up to that standard,” Black said in a news release.

In a news release, Jackie Miller, a member of Women for Community Justice, asked, “How many more Black and brown people are going to be hurt or killed by the officers who have sworn to protect us?”

Demands from Women for Community Justice include reprimands for and a rejection of excessive force, civilian oversight, transparency about when force is used and recruiting and hiring officers that reflect the diversity of the community.