A Madison mother says she was attacked by a man shouting racial slurs outside the Woodman’s on Madison’s east side on Thursday.
Toshiana Northington said in an exclusive interview Sunday that she was dropping her children off at the front door of the grocery store because it was raining. She said she had the car stopped in front of the door for less than five minutes when she heard another car blaring its horn. She said she got out of the car to help her children get out and indicated to a driver behind her that she would only be a moment; she then heard that the horn was coming from a car parked in a handicap-accessible parking spot, which was boxed in by the traffic in front of the door. She said the driver of that car, later identified as David Lythjohan of McFarland, began shouting the n-word when she stepped out of the car.
“When I got out of the car and told the person to wait, I feel like once he realized that it was a Black person, he went into a rage,” Northington said. “So I told him, ‘one minute,’ the whole thing, he kept blowing his horn and saying like, ‘f*****g n****r,’ ‘move out the way,’ ‘stupid n****r,’ you know, all those like that.”
Northington said she ultimately did get her kids out of the car and turned her van around to find a parking spot, and Lythjohan began backing his car toward her van, causing her to stop and start as he was unsure where he was going. That’s when she said Lythjohan got out of his car, punched her driver’s side window, opened the driver’s side door and punched her.
She said she leaned back across the passenger seat and began kicking to get him off of her.
“My legs were going crazy out the door, trying to kick him off of me,” she said.
Northington said her 11-year-old son tried to come to her aid.
“My son saw what was going on. My son came to help me. And when I finally got out of the car, that’s when I saw (Lythjohan) grab my son by his neck and punched him in his nose. And my son is 11,” Northington said. “And then that’s when all the tumbling started going and he grabbed my 4-year-old and pushed her to the ground. My 4-year-old ran up and was crying and screaming, so then he grabbed her, pushed her to the ground … We were all literally fighting in the rain.”
Northington said Woodman’s security personnel detained Lythjohan while she called police, who took Lythjohan’s statement first.
“I don’t know if it was because he was an older man or what, but he immediately started telling his story and they just went straight for him and eliminated the whole process that it was me and my kids that got attacked,” she said.
She said initially, police said you weren’t going to arrest him and told her they would write him a ticket, but then another Woodman’s security employee told them there was security video.
A Madison police incident brief says the video shows Northington’s children pulling him away, and shows him getting kicked. Woodman’s declined to release the video. Madison365 has requested the official reports and video from the Madison Police Department.
The incident brief does not mention racial slurs. Northington said she is sure she told police about them, and that other witnesses heard them.
“I am really hurt and saddened that it’s not mentioned because it feels like they’re trying to sweep it under the rug,” she said in a text message Monday.
Northington said police decided to take Lythjohan into custody after viewing the video. She later posted video of his arrest to Facebook.
The police incident brief says Lythjohan was arrested on charges of battery and disorderly conduct.
An ally who contacted Dane County Jail Thursday said Lythjohan was booked into the jail and released on $650 bond later in the evening. As of Monday evening, no charges have been filed.
“(Lythjohan) went back to living his life. Now, I’m going to be off of work because every time I walk on my foot, that swells right back up and my ankle is sprained and I have bruised ribs. And my son has a bruise. Has bruising in his nose and his neck,” Northington said. “I’ve been having nightmares. I can’t keep myself calm. When I’m outside, I’m even more aware of my surroundings because I don’t want this to happen again. I don’t know. It’s just been really traumatic for my family.”
Northington said she is a phlebotomist and trains other phlebotomists at a plasma center, and will also soon graduate with a medical assistant degree. It’s a job that requires her to be on her feet, so she can’t work with a sprained ankle. In a Facebook post, she said her son offered to lend her a shoe because her foot was swollen.
“I want (Lythjohan) to have more charges than what he has. And I want this to be a hate crime,” she said. And she’s not alone — since being posted Friday, an online petition urging District Attorney Ishmael Ozanne to charge Lythjohan with a hate crime has garnered nearly 4,000 signatures.
“I wanted to just say how much it traumatized my kids and me. It’s just been overwhelming emotions,” she said. But she’s gotten a lot of support, too: “People that I don’t even know have been reaching out to me.”
We will update this story as we receive additional information. Anyone who witnessed the assault is urged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.