A white deputy whose “well-known” racism caused a Black corporal to quit the force was later fired for it by Wyoming’s first Black sheriff, a new lawsuit alleges. The Associated Press reported Monday that the federal discrimination suit, brought by the former corporal, Jamin Johnson, seeks damages from the former deputy, Christian Handley over alleged racism that caused Johnson to resign in 2017, more than three years before Aaron Appelhans became the sheriff. Johnson’s lawsuit alleges that Handley frequently used racial slurs to refer both to Johnson and Black people he met on the job. In one instance, the filing states, Handley drove past Johnson, then a corporal with the sheriff’s office, shouting the N-word at him and his wife and children. “Mr. Handley later apologized for having not realized that Mr. Johnson’s family was present,” the lawsuit says, according to the AP. An internal review, instigated a few months after Appelhans stepped into the sheriff’s role, found evidence of Handley’s rise through the department’s ranks despite his “widespread and well-known” prejudice. He had subjected Johnson to “overt and abhorrent racism” for years, the investigation concluded. Appelhans fired Handley in early 2021, after the investigation had ended, according to the suit.
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