(CBS NEWS) – A Minneapolis jail superintendent said Sunday that he “erred in judgment” by issuing an order to prevent officers of color from interacting with Derek Chauvin, who is being held on $1.25 million bail on charges of second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd. Eight Ramsey County corrections officers have filed discrimination charges with the state’s Department of Human Rights.
According to attorney Bonnie Smith, the officers were not only barred from guarding Chauvin, they were also reassigned away from the fifth floor of the jail where he is being held. At a press conference Sunday morning, she said one officer was stopped while booking Chauvin and two had finished cleaning the bathroom on the fifth floor when they were reassigned to another task.
Smith said the officers are “demanding that steps be taken to address the injustices faced by officers of color.”
Sheriff Bob Fletcher is now reviewing the matter to determine if any additional actions are necessary, CBS Minnesota reports. Another meeting with correctional officers will be held at the conclusion of the investigation.
Ramsey County officials told CBS Minnesota the incident in question took place Friday, May 29 when Superintendent Steve Lydon was notified by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension that they would be arriving in 10 minutes with Chauvin to book and hold.
“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. “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 he reversed the order within 45 minutes.
“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 judgment and issued an apology to the affected employees,” Lydon said.
But Smith insisted Sunday that it was “not a split-second decision” to reassign the officers, and alleged that Lydon had shared the decision with a deputy.