Wyoming’s first Black sheriff fired a White deputy who is accused of tormenting a Black subordinate for years with racist name-calling that led him to quit, a new federal lawsuit reveals, reports CBS News.
Albany County Patrol Sergeant Christian Handley once drove past and yelled a profanity and the N-word at Corporal Jamin Johnson while Johnson and his wife and children were walking out of their home, according to one example of racism alleged in the discrimination lawsuit filed last week.
“Mr. Handley later apologized for having not realized that Mr. Johnson’s family was present, as if his vile racism was otherwise acceptable,” the lawsuit says. Johnson is suing Handley, seeking a jury trial if necessary and damages for the years of racism that he says led up to his decision to quit in 2017.
The allegations put a new spotlight on the sheriff’s office in Laramie, the Albany County seat known for the murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in 1998, a crime that drew unprecedented attention to LGBTQ rights and hate crimes. The racism allegations come after Aaron Applehjans’ appointment as Wyoming’s first Black sheriff in the wake of an outcry in Laramie over a deputy’s 2018 shooting of an unarmed man who had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.
Handley used racial slurs to refer not only to Johnson but to Black citizens he came in contact with on the job, including four University of Wyoming students who were in a vehicle he once pulled over, according to Johnson’s lawsuit against Handley, filed Jan. 18 in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne. The suit didn’t provide the reason for the stop.