• Derek Chauvin was arrested for the alleged murder of George Floyd in May
  • BIPOC officers were allegedly barred from Chauvin’s floor
  • Eight officers have filed discrimination charges

Eight corrections officers who identified as Black, minority or people of color (BIPOC) filed racial discrimination charges for being barred from guarding or having contact with Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin was arrested earlier this month over his involvement with the death of George Floyd, a Black man who Chauvin pinned to the ground with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Floyd pleaded for air, became unresponsive, and was eventually pronounced dead at a nearby hospital in Minneapolis.

Chauvin has been charged with murder in the second degree and manslaughter. He is being held at Ramsey County Jail with bail set at $1 million.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights received the filing Friday (June 19). The Ramsey County corrections officers alleged that all BIPOC officers were ordered to move to a separate floor when Chauvin was booked into the jail.

“When we arrived on the 3rd floor, we realized that the facility's employees of color were all on that floor, and that we had been segregated from the 5th floor,” one officer said.

The superintendent Steve Lydon reversed the decision later but the eight employees said they were “deeply humiliated” by what they described as “the segregation order” in the charges filed.

They also allege that a supervisor told another officer that they would be a “liability” around Chauvin because of their race and skin color.

“[The eight officers] believe Ramsey County's actions were discriminatory because they openly singled out and segregated officers of color because of our skin color,” the complaint read.

In a statement provided by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, Lydon said he made the decision to reassign some officers to other posts to “limit exposure to employees of color to a murder suspect who could potentially aggravate those feelings.”

“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,” Lydon said.

He also reversed the order 45 minutes later when “I realized my error” only after other staff expressed concern with the change.

Bonnie Smith, the attorney for the officers who filed the complaint, said in a statement that the damage had already been done when Lydon reversed course.

“Shifts had been reassigned and at least one officer of color who was assigned to the 5th floor over the weekend was reassigned to another floor for the duration of Chauvin's detention at the jail,” Smith said.

Sheriff Bill Fletcher will review if there is additional action needed while Lydon’s duties have been changed, according to a statement from the county sheriff’s office.