$1.5M settlement approved for correctional officers of color prohibited from guarding Derek Chauvin

9 August 2022

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Ramsey County approved a nearly $1.5 million settlement on Tuesday for eight correctional officers of color who were told they were not permitted to have any contact with Derek Chauvin when he arrived at the county’s adult detention facility in May of 2020. 

The officers alleged that on May 29, 2020, before Chauvin’s arrival to the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center, Superintendent Steve Lydon told a lieutenant “Let’s not have any officers of color working with [Chauvin].” Lydon then issued a segregation order prohibiting officers of color from going to the fifth floor, where Chauvin was held.

The lawsuit says that the plaintiffs – who are Black, Hispanic, Pacific Islander American, and multiracial – believed Lydon did not trust them to carry out their responsibilities because of their race.

After Chauvin was brought to the facility, the lawsuit also describes an “A-Team Response” to the first floor of the detention center, which requires all available officers to drop what they are doing and assist the affected inmate. Protocol requires the inmate who is the subject of the A-Team call to be taken to the fifth floor, but because of the segregation order, the officers of color who responded were told they were not permitted to take the inmate to the fifth floor.

When he was asked about the segregation order, the lawsuit says Lydon denied he was racist and defended his decision to implement the order. In a meeting the following week with approximately 50 officers, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher admitted he had not investigated the issue, but defended Lydon and said he was not racist.

The lawsuit was filed in February of 2021 under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prevents discrimination based on race.

“Trust and accountability are critical to our safety as correctional officers, and Superintendent Lydon’s segregation order broke this trust. Each of us is on our own journey toward healing from this damaging discrimination and the aftermath” said plaintiff Devin Sullivan. “Our goal in bringing attention to the segregation order was to ensure Ramsey County was held accountable for its discriminatory actions and practices.”

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Author: WCCO Staff

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