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Officers of color barred from guarding Derek Chauvin get $1.5 million in settlement

Minnesota Department of Corrections

(ST. PAUL, Minn.) -- Eight corrections officers of color were barred from guarding Derek Chauvin in May 2020 – now, they're receiving almost $1.5 million as a settlement for racial discrimination.

Chauvin is a former Minneapolis Police officer who has since been convicted in the death of George Floyd. The murder prompted nationwide protests, calling for racial justice and police reform.

According to court documents, Steve Lydon, then-Superintendent of the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center, issued an order on May 29, 2020, that banned corrections officers of color from entering the fifth floor where Chauvin was being held.

The order was rescinded about one hour later.

Several officers filed charges of discrimination with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights the following month. Those files were later closed, as officers prepared for a separate lawsuit.

In a February 2021 complaint that followed, eight officers alleged multiple violations of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, including race and color discrimination and a hostile work environment.

Three plaintiffs -- Devin Sullivan, Stanley Hafoka and Nathaniel Gomez-Haustein -- also asserted claims of retaliation. They alleged emotional distress, as well as loss of income.

According to the Star Tribune, Lydon made the decision "to protect and support" employees of color, hoping to quell any pain that the presence of Chauvin might cause them.

Ramsey County Board Chairwoman Trista MatasCastillo apologized Tuesday to the officers affected.

"The actions taken by Sheriff's Office leadership that day were more than just wrong -- they were racist, heinous, highly disrespectful and completely out of line with Ramsey County's vision and values," MatasCastillo said in a statement. "No one ever should have questioned your ability to perform your job based on the color of your skin."

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