Former deputy files racial discrimination lawsuit against Logan sheriff

A former Logan County deputy sheriff has filed a federal lawsuit against Sheriff Brett Powell, Undersheriff Ken Kimsey and the Logan County Commissioners.

The Journal-Advocate has obtained a copy of the complaint, filed in Nov. 2021, by Shadowhawk A. Tiger, who worked for a year as a LCSO deputy and detention officer in 2017 and 2018. In his complaint, Tiger claims that Kimsey and Powell lied to Colorado Department of Corrections officials about Tiger’s work record at LCSO, costing him any employment opportunity with DOC. Tiger’s complaint also accuses Powell and Kimsey of racial harassment during his employment there, saying they repeatedly referred to Tiger as a “big f***ing Indian.” Tiger is a member of the Cheyenne nation.

According to the complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, Tiger endured the racial slurs but, on the advice of his sergeant, said nothing because he didn’t want to make trouble. He resigned from the sheriff’s office in July 2018 and believed that he left the department on relatively good terms.

“On July 10, 2018, Mr. Tiger filled out a separation form on which he also indicated that a return to school and family considerations were the reason for his voluntary resignation,” the complaint reads. “On this same separation form, Sheriff Powell signed on July 11, 2018 and confirmed that Mr. Tiger had no written or verbal warnings and that Mr. Tiger’s resignation was voluntary.”

In 2019 Tiger applied for a position as a correctional officer with the DOC and started through the hiring process. His complaint alleges that he was told by a DOC official that he would be hired, pending a final background check. Several weeks later, however, Tiger was notified that he would not be hired and was “deemed permanently ineligible for employment with the Colorado Department of Corrections per CDOC pre-employment standards.”

According to the complaint, Tiger appealed the decision to DOC and ultimately filed a complaint with the state personnel board. That was when he discovered that Undersheriff Kimsey had sent DOC a written statement claiming that Tiger was not eligible for rehire at Logan County. Tiger alleges that the form also said he had “’poor or questionable’ performance in a series of performance duties and characteristics.” The form allegedly rated Tigr as unacceptable in the characteristics of “Honesty and Integrity.” Kimsey allegedly wrote that Tiger “said he was going to police academy, never did. Was going back to school.”

The complaint alleges that Kimsey never checked to see whether Tiger enrolled in any college or university and that Tiger did, in fact, enroll at Northeastern Junior College and attended classes during the Fall Semester 2018 before applying for the Corrections position.

Tiger is seeking to have the county publicly acknowledge that he did, in fact, leave employment in good standing and is eligible for re-employment with the county. He also seeks lost back wages and benefits from the 2019 denial of employment, attorney’s fees and court costs, and unspecified damages for “emotional distress, pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of reputation, and other non-pecuniary losses such as loss of confidence and self-esteem…”

The Journal-Advocate reached out to Sheriff Powell for a comment on the case but was told by Eric M. Ziporin, counsel for defense, that “given that litigation is pending, my clients have no comment at this time.”

This is not the first time Powell and his command staff have been sued by a former deputy. In 2019 former Sgt. Clayton Rockwell filed a federal suit against the sheriff, Kimsey, Lt. Dennis Aulston, Lt. Bill Dolan and former Undersheriff Alan Pierce. Rockwell claims Powell and the others created a hostile work environment after the then-deputy actively supported Powell’s challenger, Chris Fiegel, in the 2018 Republican primary election. That case is still pending in federal court.

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