Lawsuit: Wyoming’s 1st Black Sheriff Aaron Appelhans Fires Racist Deputy 

In Summary

Albany County Patrol Sgt. Christian Handley used racial slurs to refer to Cpl. Jamin Johnson and Black citizens he came in contact with on the job.

A new federal lawsuit revealed Wyoming’s first Black sheriff fired a white deputy, who is being accused of afflicting a Black subordinate with racist name-calling, leading him to quit, according to The Associated Press

On one occasion, Cpl. Jamin Johnson, his wife and children were walking out of their home when Albany County Patrol Sgt. Christian Handley shouted a profanity and the N-word at Johnson. 

RELATED: Wyoming county elects Aaron Appelhans as first Black sheriff

“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 reads. 

Johnson is suing Handley and is requesting a jury trial, if deemed appropriate, and damages for the racism he says led to his decision to quit in 2017, according to The Associated Press. 

These latest allegations shine a light on the sheriff’s office in Laramie, the Albany County seat that is known for the murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, a crime that changed America as it generated attention to LGBTQ rights and hate crimes.  

This news also comes at a time when Sheriff Aaron Appelhans was appointed as the state’s first Black sheriff, in addition to outcry over a deputy’s shooting of an unarmed man who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in 2018. 

RELATED: After shooting, unrest, Wyoming gets its first Black sheriff

Johnson wasn’t the only victim of Handley’s racial slurs as it happened to other Black citizens he came in contact with on the job, which included four University of Wyoming students, according to The Associated Press. 

“It’s just disappointing to learn how long it had been going on prior to my arrival,” said Appelhans. “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.” 

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