Eight minority correctional officers at a Minnesota county jail filed a racial discrimination lawsuit claiming they were barred from guarding the form
Eight minority correctional officers at a Minnesota county jail filed a racial discrimination lawsuit claiming they were barred from guarding the former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death.
The suit was filed Tuesday in a Minnesota district court and alleges that a superintendent at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center in St. Paul reassigned officers of color to another floor when Derek Chauvin was arrested on murder charges last May.
The suit says the officers — who identify as African American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander and mixed-race — were “segregated and prevented from doing their jobs by defendant solely because of the color of their skin.”
The officers also claim that Chauvin received special treatment by a white lieutenant.
“When Officer Chauvin arrived, they were prepared to do the jobs they had done every single day up to that point until that is, Superintendent Lydon’s order prevented them from doing so,” attorney Lucas Kaster said at a news conference Tuesday.
“The impact on our clients has been immense. They’re deeply humiliated and distressed and the bonds necessary within the high stress and high-pressure environment of the ADC have been broken,” he added.
Chauvin was arrested on May 29 and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Video filmed days prior, on May 25, showed him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes as Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe.
The lawsuit says the correctional officers were performing their regular job duties at the jail when they were informed that they would be reassigned because of Chauvin’s arrival.
The suit claims that Superintendent Steve Lydon ordered that all minority officers were not allowed to guard Chauvin, interact with him or even be on the 5th floor where Chauvin was held.
The officers were “extremely upset and offended” by the order, according to the lawsuit.
One of the plaintiffs, Devin Sullivan, regularly processes and books high-profile inmates. The suit alleges that he was in the middle of patting down Chauvin when Lydon told him to stop and replaced him with a white officer.
The suit also states that two other officers saw on security cameras that a white lieutenant “was granted special access” to Chauvin. The lieutenant was allowed access into Chauvin’s cell unit, sat on his bed, patted his back “while appearing to comfort him” and let Chauvin use a cell phone.
Several of the minority officers asked to speak with Lydon, who “denied he was racist and defended his decision.”
The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office did not return a request for comment on Tuesday and Lydon could not be reached at numbers listed for him.
In June, the plaintiffs filed discrimination charges with the state’s Department of Human Rights. Kaster told the Star Tribune that the action never gained traction so attorneys requested that it be closed so they could pursue legal action.
The attorney said at Tuesday’s news conference that his clients filed the lawsuit to seek to hold Lydon and Ramsey County “responsible for the discrimination that occurred under their watch.”
According to the Star Tribune, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office initially denied the officers’ claims but later acknowledged Lydon’s order and said the superintendent had been temporarily demoted while the department conducted an internal investigation. It’s not clear what the outcome of the investigation was.
In a statement given by Lydon during the investigation and provided by the sheriff’s office to the Star Tribune, the superintendent said he was trying to “protect and support” minority employees by shielding them from Chauvin.
Kaster said Tuesday that Lydon’s explanation was never given to his clients and was only provided after the fact.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Nbcnews.com