Former Interim Golden Valley Police Chief Sues City
The former Golden Valley interim police chief has filed a lawsuit against the city claiming reverse discrimination.
Scott Nadeau and his attorneys filed the federal lawsuit against Golden Valley on June 30.
The suit also names Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris, Golden Valley City Manager Tim Cruikshank and former member of the Golden Valley Police Employment, Accountability, & Community Engagement Commission Jessie Smith as defendants.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of the controversial hiring process for a new police chief following the retirement of former Chief Jason Sturgis in August 2021.
Golden Valley hired Nadeau — a former police chief in Columbia Heights and Maplewood — to head the police department on an interim basis later that year.
Nadeau claims he was the top applicant for the permanent police chief job but was passed over because the city preferred a Black candidate.
He also accuses Harris of defamation and due process violations in the lawsuit.
Hiring a Police Chief
Golden Valley began a search for a permanent police chief after Sturgis retired.
Nadeau, who was then serving as interim chief, was one of 47 candidates to apply for the permanent Golden Valley police chief position.
The city initially selected three finalists for the job: Virgil Green, John Franklin and Nadeau.
Later in the process, the field was narrowed to Green, who is Black, and Nadeau, who is white.
On March 1, 2022, Harris made a statement during a Golden Valley City Council Meeting regarding the search process and police department.
“What I have come to realize is some ugly truths,” Harris said. “I believe that the search process has been negatively influenced by a group of people within the police department … It has infected the department and created a toxic culture of hostility, intimidation, paternalism and unfortunately, racism.”
Harris endorsed Green as the next police chief.
The next day, Nadeau resigned from his post. He also withdrew from consideration as the next chief.
The city selected Green to be the city’s first Black police chief. He started in September of 2022.
The Golden Valley Police Department has struggled to retain staff.
Reverse Discrimination Claims in Lawsuit
In the lawsuit, Nadeau claims he was viewed as the top candidate early in the process.
“Nadeau reestablished morale in the department and positively impacted the relationship between the community and the police department,” the lawsuit reads. “Both Cruikshank and the recruiter hired by the city … requested plaintiff Nadeau apply to be the permanent chief of police”
The lawsuit claims that the city, Harris and Smith pushed to have a Black police chief.
Smith asked residents to lobby for Black finalists and find negative information about Nadeau, the lawsuit alleges.
“Defendant Smith also made a series of comments encouraging the city to engage in race-based hiring,” the lawsuit reads.
The suit also claims that Harris’ comments constituted defamation.
“Harris included accusations of unethical and criminal activity by plaintiff Nadeau,” the lawsuit reads. “Harris went on to state that the mayor and city council panel will make the final decision about the chief of police in violation of state law … Harris’s comments amounted to discharging plaintiff Nadeau from his position.”
The lawsuit alleges that Cruikshank contemplated resigning and apologized to Nadeau.
“Having no other options, Plaintiff Nadeau officially resigned the following day,” the suit reads.
Nadeau and his attorneys are requesting at least $75,000 in damages.
“[Nadeau] is a white male who was performing at a high level and exceeding the performance expectations of defendants,” the lawsuit reads. “[The city] nonetheless terminated [Nadeau] for the stated purpose of replacing him with a person of a different race. Defendants’ actions for the purpose of improving diversity constituted discrimination based on race.”
Response from Golden Valley
The City of Golden Valley sent CCX News the following statement on the lawsuit:
“The City disputes Mr. Nadeau’s claims and will aggressively defend this lawsuit. Mr. Nadeau was one of two final candidates for the Police Chief position when he resigned as interim and withdrew his application for Police Chief. The City took multiple steps to make sure the Police Chief hiring process was fair and the best candidate was hired for the position. Mr. Nadeau publicly stated that the Police Chief search process was ‘transparent, community-centered and community-involved,’ and that intimidation and racism had not been factors. Golden Valley Police Officers at all ranks are highly qualified and valued public servants. The City does not make hiring decisions based on race.”