The eight nonwhite corrections officers who were banned from interacting with disgraced cop Derek Chauvin because of their race have received a $1.455 million settlement in a discrimination lawsuit.
The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners in Minnesota approved the settlement Tuesday, according to the governing body, putting an end to the lawsuit filed by the defendants, who identify as Black, Hispanic, mixed-race, and Pacific Islander.
“We are deeply sorry for the trauma you experienced and the ongoing harm this racist incident caused,” board of commissioners Chair Trista MatasCastillo said in a statement. “We recognize this apology will never undo the anguish and distress you’ve gone through as a result.”
The lawsuit stems from May 29, 2020, the day Chauvin was finally taken into custody, four days after murdering George Floyd in Minneapolis. One of the defendants, Devin Sullivan, a Black officer who regularly processed high-profile inmates, said that a superior, Superintendent Steve Lydon, stopped him from patting Chauvin down when he arrived at the jail. Lydon told Sullivan he didn’t want the officer “doing anything he would not normally do,” and removed Sullivan from his post, replacing him with two white officers.
Lydon then ordered that all corrections officers of color were barred from interacting with Chauvin, and even prohibited them from going to the 5th floor, where he was being held, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also claimed that Chauvin appeared to receive special treatment from the white officers who were allowed to enter his floor in the early days of his time in jail. Two of the plaintiffs said they saw corrections officers entering Chauvin’s cell on security cameras, comforting him with pats on the back and even letting him use a cellphone.
County leaders condemned Lydon’s actions, calling them “racist, heinous, highly disrespectful, and completely out of line.”
At the time, Lydon told local news outlets that he barred the officers from interacting with Chauvin because he felt a duty to “protect and support employees who may have been traumatized” by his actions. Lydon was demoted from his position as superintendent after the lawsuit was filed.
“The courage of these eight officers cannot be overstated,” Lucas Kaster, one of the attorneys for the correctional officers, said in a statement. “During an unprecedented time in our community, the officers took the bold action to step forward and speak out against the segregation and racism they experienced.”
To the plaintiffs, MatasCastillo said, “No one ever should have questioned your ability to perform your job based on the color of your skin.”
In addition to announcing the settlement, the board asked that the sheriff’s office to “take corrective action” regarding Lydon’s continued employment, though it stopped short of asking for his termination.
The Ramsey County Sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
Chauvin was found guilty of murder and second-degree manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes in front of a Minneapolis convenience store. Earlier this year he also pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights. He’s currently serving his 22-year sentence in federal prison.
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