Minority corrections officers barred from guarding Derek Chauvin file discrimination claims
The superintendent of the Ramsey County jail was later demoted
Several correctional officers of color at a Minnesota county jail reported that they were barred from guarding prisoner Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd.
The eight staffers at Adult Detention Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Chauvin is being held, filed discrimination charges with the state, according to the Star Tribune.
The officers stated in the complaint that they were sent to a separate floor upon Chauvin’s arrival to the Ramsey County jail. Superintendent Steve Lydon, who oversees day-to-day operations at the state’s second-largest pretrial detention facility, told them their presence could potentially be a “liability,” due to their race, the claims allege.
The complaint, citing racial discrimination, was filed with Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights.
One of the acting sergeants, who is Black, stated that he “understood that the decision to segregate us had been made because we could not be trusted to carry out our work responsibilities professionally around the high-profile inmate — solely because of the color of our skin. I am not aware of a similar situation where white officers were segregated from an inmate.”
In one complaint, a Black acting sergeant who handles the transport of high-profile detainees was ordered substituted by white officers in the middle of a routine pat-down of Chauvin, the newspaper reports. The complaint sites Lydon as the offender.
The supervisor told investigators that the decision to swap the correctional officers was made to “protect and support” the minority officers upon learning of Chauvin’s imminent arrival to the jail.
“Out of care and concern, and without the comfort of time, I made a decision to limit exposure to employees of color to a murder suspect who could potentially aggravate those feelings,” Lydon explained.
The superintendent has been demoted.
The attorney for the eight officers, Bonnie Smith, said that such decisions in the future must not be based on race or color.
“I think they deserve to have employment decisions made based on performance and behavior,” Smith stated. “Their main goal is to make sure this never happens again.”
Chauvin first arrived at Ramsey County jail on May 29. He was booked for third-degree murder and manslaughter charges, stemming from kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The charges have since been increased to second-degree murder.
Three other ex-Minneapolis cops involved in the deadly arrest attempt of Floyd, who was a 47-year-old father, have also been charged in his homicide.
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