MPD officers file discrimination lawsuit against city, chief

Five Minneapolis police officers filed a racial discrimination lawsuit in federal court Monday.

Sgt. Charles Adams, Lt. Medaria Arradondo, Lt. Lee Edwards, Sgt. Dennis Hamilton and Lt. Donald Harris — all African American — are suing the city of Minneapolis, the police department and Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan. All have worked for the Minneapolis Police Department for 18 years or more.

They allege being passed over for promotions, losing overtime pay and being unfairly disciplined because they’re African American. According to the complaint, the police department “has a history of tolerating racist and discriminatory remarks by its white police officers and engaged in discriminatory conduct against its African American police officers.”

Dolan released a statement but declined to comment directly on the lawsuit, saying it was inappropriate. “However, I want to reiterate my personal commitment to building and retaining a diverse police force that reflects the people of Minneapolis. I am proud of the work that the women and men of the Minneapolis Police Department do every day, and have confidence that will continue moving forward.”

While City Council Member Ralph Remington (10th Ward) was unaware of the lawsuit until Monday, he was not surprised by it.

He said he has long known of allegations made by some African American police officers against the police department.

Remington has not been the police administration’s biggest fan. He was the only council member to vote against confirming Dolan as police chief last year. The vote was 12-1. He directly heard enough allegations regarding possible discrimination that “gave one pause and certainly enough pause to reconsider the confirmation of the chief,” he explained.

Remington is referred to in the lawsuit. According to the complaint, Dolan allegedly lied to him about a specific personnel issue.

Asked whether the City Council should have a role in exploring the allegations outlined in the lawsuit, Remington said the legal process should be allowed to play out, but, in conjunction, the City Council could ask questions internally and find out if the complaints can be validated.

“This is certainly new territory for all of us, so we have to proceed with caution and open minds,” he said.

Dolan is tentatively scheduled to deliver a report on diversity at a City Council Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee meeting next week, according to committee staff. The meeting agenda could change between now and then.