Minneapolis agrees to pay former and current police officers to settle discrimination claims

Former officer Colleen Ryan will receive $133,600; Lt. Art Knight will receive $70,000

squad car and caution tape downtown Minneapolis
A Minneapolis Police squad car on February 2.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Minneapolis city council members voted Thursday to settle complaints filed by two police officers who claimed they faced discrimination and were unfairly disciplined for speaking critically about the department in media interviews.  

Arthur Knight, who has served 28 years with the Minneapolis Police Department, will receive a $70,000 settlement. Knight was serving as Deputy Chief in October, 2020, when he was demoted for telling the Star Tribune about some of his concerns over resources for recruiting staff with diverse backgrounds. 

Knight, who is African American, filed a discrimination lawsuit in 2021 which includes an excerpt from the interview that reads, “If you keep employing the same tactics,” said MPD chief of staff Art Knight, ‘you’re just going to get the same old white boys.’”  

Knight alleges his demotion was “as a result of long-running, race-biased headwinds inside the MPD.” Attorneys for Knight at Haller Kwan LLP issued a statement saying in part, “Lt. Knight is pleased to put this chapter behind him and focus on his health, family and advocacy.” 

The statement said Knight is also preparing to “soon transition to life as a civilian.”

Former MPD officer Colleen Ryan, who filed a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, will receive a settlement for $133,600. Ryan was issued a letter of reprimand by Chief Medaria Arradondo after she spoke to GQ magazine under a pseudonym, but was later identified as part of a larger human rights investigation into the department’s practices, according to the Star Tribune. Ryan criticized the department for having what she called a toxic culture.

In his official notice of discipline, Arradondo said Ryan should have sought permission to speak to the media from the department’s public information officer.  

A spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Human Rights said they could not “confirm or deny the existence or to share information regarding a case until it is closed.”

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