Lawsuit: Jail barred corrections officers of color from having contact with Derek Chauvin

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Sunday, June 21, 2020
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In this May 29 news conference, prosecutors announce third-degree murder and manslaughter charges against Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eight Minnesota corrections officers of color filed discrimination charges, alleging they were barred from having contact with Derek Chauvin, the white former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, a Black man.

In the complaint, filed with the state's Department of Human Rights Friday, the Ramsey County corrections officers allege that as Chauvin arrived May 29, the superintendent ordered all officers of color to leave the floor where he would be held in isolation, KSTP reported.

The complaint alleges that Black and Hispanic officers were prohibited from having any contact with Chauvin and white colleagues were swapped in to perform their normal duties.

One officer said he felt "humiliated" and other officers of color were seen crying, according to the complaint.

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In a statement, the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office said it received a verbal complaint from a union steward the next day and opened an investigation.

As a part of the investigation, superintendent Steve Lydon said he removed officers of color from the floor "out of care and concern."

"Recognizing that the murder of George Floyd was likely to create particularly acute racialized trauma, I felt I had an immediate duty to protect and support employees who may have been traumatized and may have heightened ongoing trauma by having to deal with Chauvin ... I made the decision to limit exposure to employees of color to a murder suspect who could potentially aggravate those feelings," Lydon said in a statement.

Lydon said the officers expressed their concerns about his actions, and he then "reversed the order" and issued an apology. According to the complaint, the superintendent denied he was racist and defended the decision before changing his mind about the order, KSTP reported.

The sheriff's office said they have not yet determined if any additional action is necessary.