June 10, 2020 / 3:58 PM / 22 days ago

Fact check: Correctional officers file racial discrimination charges over guarding of Chauvin at Ramsey County Jail

Correction June 22, 2020

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Following a report by the Star Tribune (here), Reuters has updated the headline of this check and added new information regarding racial discrimination charges filed by correctional officers who say they were prohibited from having any contact with Derek Chauvin in Ramsey County Jail.

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Posts on social media claim that black correctional officers were “banned” from guarding Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree murder over the death of George Floyd, while he was being held at Ramsey County Jail in St Paul.

On June 5 the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office told Reuters this was false. However, eight employees have since filed racial discrimination charges with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights in which they state that they were prohibited from working on the floor in the jail where Chauvin was taken.

Chauvin, who was filmed pinning Floyd, an unarmed black man, to the street by pressing a knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25, was arrested on murder and manslaughter charges four days later (  here  ,  here  ).  According to booking records, Chauvin was processed at the Ramsey County Jail in St. Paul the same day.

An article linked in the posts (  here ) says, “At 10:00 pm Friday 5/29/20 the InNewsWeekly investigative team received a tip from a reliable source that black corrections officers have been banned from the 5th floor where Derek Chauvin is being held.”

Asked about the InNewsWeekly article, a spokesperson for the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction over the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center, told Reuters on June 5 via email that there was “no truth to the report, and that Chauvin “was treated according to procedure.” That spokesperson said on June 9 that black corrections officers were in fact “assigned to guard him as part of the regular routine.”

On June 21, Minnesota newspaper the Star Tribune reported that eight minority Ramsey County corrections officers had filed discrimination charges “after they were barred from guarding or having any other contact with former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin” (here).

Minnesota lawyer Bonnie Smith, who is representing the eight corrections officers, provided Reuters with a redacted copy of the charges of discrimination on the basis of race brought forth against the county jail. In the document, the correctional officers, who describe themselves as having black or brown skin, report asked to leave or avoid the fifth floor of the jail, where Chauvin was to be held.

The employees go on to describe a meeting with the jail Superintendent later on May 29, in which he is said to have admitted there had been an order to prohibit officers of color from the 5th floor but that he had changed his mind about the order.

The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment on this information and clarification on its previous statement.

On May 31, Chauvin was moved to the Hennepin County Jail in Minneapolis, where he is currently in custody (  here  ,  here ).

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts   here  . 

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