'Overt and abhorrent racism' alleged in Black deputy's lawsuit against Wyoming supervisor
Albany County Sheriff’s Office

A Black sheriff's deputy in Wyoming is suing his former supervisor over alleged racist abuse that went unpunished for years.

Albany County Patrol Cpl. Jamin Johnson claims that Sgt. Christian Handley hurled racial slurs and profanity at him and his family outside their home, and the complaint alleges the agency conducted only "sham" disciplinary actions until the Black deputy finally resigned in frustration in August 2017, reported the Associated Press.

“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.

Handley was fired last year following an internal investigation ordered by the state's first Black sheriff, Aaron Appelhans, who was appointed in December 2020.

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“It’s just disappointing to learn how long it had been going on prior to my arrival,” Appelhans said. “I’ll always continue to make sure that our department is not only welcoming to those who want to work in our department but welcoming to those in our community as well.”

Handley allegedly used racial slurs against Black citizens he interacted with on the job, including four University of Wyoming students he pulled over in a traffic stop, and he made crude and degrading comments about having sex with a Black woman.

“Because that would be nasty,” Handley told Johnson, according to the suit. “That is like having sex with a dog.”

Handley's “overt and abhorrent racism” against Johnson, the department's only Black officer, allegedly began in 2011, and the white deputy wrote up "sham disciplinary actions" against him after a promotion to sergeant.

Johnson is seeking a jury trial and damages against Handley for the years of abuse that he led to his decision to quit the department.

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