A Black ex-sheriff’s deputy is suing a White ex-supervisor and is alleging years of racist treatment
(CNN) A Black police officer says he was subject to “racism,” “bigotry” and “discrimination” at the hands of a White supervisor for more than five years, a lawsuit says.
In a lawsuit filed last week in the US District court of Wyoming, Jamin Johnson said he left the Albany County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) in 2017 after years of “intolerable” racism from former Cpl. Christian Handley.
CNN has reached out to Handley for comment multiple times.
Byron Oedekoven, executive director with the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, said in an email to CNN that the organization does not comment on pending litigation.
Johnson joined the ACSO in 2007 and Handley joined the department in 2011, according to the suit. From 2011 to 2014 the officers worked together and Handley, “began to engage in overt and abhorrent racism against Mr. Johnson, the only Black officer at the ACSO,” the lawsuit said.
Handley, the lawsuit said, repeatedly used racial slurs, calling Johnson a “n***er” and a “jigaboo.” Handley would frequently have the “same comments about Black people in the community (including arrestees),” the suit said.
By 2014, Handley was promoted to Corporal and was Johnson’s direct supervisor, according to the lawsuit. That’s when, the suit says, Handley’s comments “became even more blatant.”
On one occasion, Handley drove past Johnson’s home while Johnson was walking outside of his house “with his wife and children” when Handley shouted, “‘mother f**king n***er!'” the suit said.
According to the suit, Handley also subjected Johnson to a series of “sham disciplinary” actions that ultimately led to Johnson’s resignation.
Johnson resigned on August 2, 2017, according to the suit.
Handley was fired last year following an internal investigation led by Wyoming’s first Black sheriff, Aaron Applehans, according to the lawsuit.
Sheriff Appelhans also confirmed the investigation to CNN in a phone call.
The investigation found “vile and unforgivable racism carried out by Mr. Handley that ultimately forced Mr. Johnson out of his dream job,” the suit said. Handley was “terminated” shortly after, the court document says. Sheriff Appelhans confirmed in a phone call to CNN that the department terminated Handley in March 2021.
“We don’t condone that behavior here, we’re always going to continue to have a workplace that’s welcoming to everyone,” Sheriff Appelhans said in a phone call to CNN.
“As long as I’m here, we’ll make that one of our top priorities. There’s no place for that behavior in law enforcement,” Sheriff Appelhans added.
Johnson is asking for a trial and compensation that includes punitive damages as well as legal fees, according to the suit.
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