KEY POINTS

  • Eight non-white Minnesota corrections officers filed racial discrimination charges against the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center for allegedly being barred, initially, from guarding Derek Chauvin
  • The officers allege their superior told them to remain separated on a different floor the day Chauvin arrived at the center
  • Chauvin has been held at the detention center since May 29 on charges of murder for the death of George Floyd

Eight non-white corrections officers in Minnesota have filed racial discrimination charges against the jail housing former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, according to the Star-Tribune. Chauvin is being held at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center on charges of murder for the death of George Floyd.

Chauvin arrived at the detention center on May 29 following his arrest. The officers said Superintendent Steve Lydon ordered all non-white officers to separate the floor and told to avoid contact with Chauvin. In the discrimination charges, Lydon allegedly said the officers’ race made them a potential “liability” if anything were to happen to Chauvin after he arrived.

“I 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,” the acting sergeant, who is Black but has not released his name, said in the filing. “I am not aware of a similar situation where white officers were segregated from an inmate.”

The officers’ attorney, Bonnie Smith, added to the sergeant’s statement, saying the officers felt “humiliated.”

“I am not aware of a similar situation where white officers were segregated from an inmate,” Smith told reporters. “They are highly trained, experienced professionals in dangerous and volatile situations and were just as well equipped as their white counterparts to perform their work duties on May 29. The fact that they weren't allowed to do so has devastated them.”

Lydon pushed back on the accusations, saying it was a snap decision he made after only being notified Chauvin would be housed at the detention center 10 minutes before he arrived.

“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 said in a public statement.

“I then met with the individuals that were working at the time and explained to them what my thought process was at the time and assured them that the decision was made out of concern for them and was in no way related to a concern regarding their professionalism or Chauvin’s safety. I realized that I had erred in judgement and issued an apology to the affected employees.”

Lydon has since been demoted but remains employed by the Minnesota Department of Corrections at the center.

The officers are seeking monetary compensation, racial bias training for all state employees, disciplinary actions against their supervising officers, and a public and formal apology. The amount requested for monetary compensation has not been released.