Minority corrections officers allege they were barred from guarding Derek Chauvin, who is accused in George Floyd's death

Eight minority corrections officers at a Minnesota county jail are suing Ramsey County, alleging they were briefly barred from working near the area former M...

Posted: Feb 10, 2021 10:01 AM

Eight minority corrections officers at a Minnesota county jail are suing Ramsey County, alleging they were briefly barred from working near the area former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was being held because of the color of their skin, according to court documents obtained by CNN affiliate WCCO.

The officers' civil suit follows discrimination charges they filed with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights in June.

Chauvin is accused of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was seen on video in May pleading he couldn't breathe as Chauvin kneeled on his neck -- words that became a rallying cry for demonstrations against police brutality over the summer.

In their lawsuit, the officers allege that the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center prohibited them from "interacting with or guarding Chauvin," who is White, "or going anywhere" on the floor where he was held. That order was given by the detention center's superintendent, Steve Lydon, the lawsuit says.

"Lydon refused to allow Plaintiffs to complete their professional responsibilities because of their race and the color of their skin," the lawsuit says. "Plaintiffs' reassignment and Lydon's blatant discrimination broke the trust between employees and management."

The lawsuit says that "after some time," Lydon met with the affected corrections officers and "denied he was racist and defended his decision" but said he had changed his mind about the order.

In a statement following the initial discrimination charges, Lydon expressed regret in his decision to briefly bar the officers from those areas.

"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 at the time.

"Out of care and concern, and without the comfort of time, I made the decision to limit exposure to employees of color to a murder suspect who could potentially aggravate those feelings."

Lydon said at the time he reversed his decision within the hour.

"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," he added. "I realized that I had erred in judgment and issued an apology to the affected employees."

Ramsey County spokesman John Siqveland released a statement on Wednesday on behalf of the county board of commissioners.

"Beginning in July 2020, the Ramsey County Board and the Sheriff participated in voluntary mediation with the officers and their counsel in an effort to resolve their claims.

"Unfortunately, the parties were unable to achieve a settlement. Now that the officers have decided to pursue a lawsuit in state court, the County Board will follow their customary practice of withholding public comment during pending litigation," the statement said.

CNN has reached out to Lydon about the new civil lawsuit but has not heard back.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604509

Reported Deaths: 7638
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1249671779
Ramsey52513897
Dakota46840471
Anoka42774458
Washington27428291
Stearns22557225
St. Louis18138313
Scott17551136
Wright16379149
Olmsted13399102
Sherburne1202095
Carver1067448
Clay826192
Rice8202110
Blue Earth762644
Crow Wing681795
Kandiyohi667985
Chisago619952
Otter Tail585884
Benton582998
Goodhue483874
Douglas475581
Mower470533
Winona461351
Itasca459763
Isanti440064
McLeod430661
Morrison424762
Beltrami407861
Nobles407650
Steele397816
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363853
Carlton353056
Freeborn347033
Pine334923
Nicollet331245
Mille Lacs311854
Brown307840
Le Sueur297326
Cass286232
Todd285633
Meeker263443
Waseca238023
Martin235332
Roseau211221
Wabasha20793
Hubbard196641
Dodge18783
Renville182446
Redwood176539
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena163323
Fillmore157610
Faribault154719
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122712
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95418
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371101

Reported Deaths: 6053
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58263640
Linn21221339
Scott20308248
Black Hawk16157312
Woodbury15240230
Johnson1462385
Dubuque13510211
Dallas1129199
Pottawattamie11228174
Story1071648
Warren583791
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554095
Sioux517574
Webster515894
Muscatine4882106
Marshall486976
Des Moines467672
Wapello4338122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421172
Plymouth403181
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones300957
Henry294637
Bremer288461
Carroll287152
Boone268634
Crawford268240
Benton259855
Washington257351
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232651
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama212071
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198735
Page194522
Buchanan194033
Cedar192423
Hardin187544
Fayette186643
Wright186040
Hamilton181951
Harrison180073
Clayton171057
Butler166335
Madison164619
Mills163824
Floyd163442
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152952
Hancock150334
Iowa149824
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138913
Grundy137233
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131837
Sac130920
Union130035
Louisa129649
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124917
Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113623
Howard105022
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96732
Monroe96431
Unassigned9540
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7618
Taylor66812
Fremont6269
Decatur6169
Ringgold56424
Van Buren56318
Wayne54423
Audubon53311
Adams3444
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