Ex-Golden Valley interim police chief sues city, leaders for discrimination, defamation

The former interim police chief for Golden Valley has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and its leaders, saying he was defamed and discriminated against based on his race.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday, Scott Nadeau believes the city hired Virgil Green as its permanent police chief instead of him based on race.

Nadeau started his career as a Brooklyn Center police officer in 1987 and rose through the ranks there before becoming police chief in Columbia Heights in 2008. In July 2017, he became the chief of police and public safety director in Maplewood until he resigned in June 2021.

After Golden Valley’s police chief retired in August 2021, Nadeau’s lawsuit says he was contacted by the city and urged to apply for the city’s interim police chief role, which he got a short time later. The court documents add that he was urged by city officials to apply for the permanent role later that year and did so, making it all the way to the top two finalists.

In his lawsuit, Nadeau notes that the feedback he received from panelists who took part in the interviews is that he was always the leading candidate from each panel. However, he claims that the vice chair of the Police, Employment, Accountability and Community Engagement (PEACE) Commission then publicly asked residents to lobby for a Black police chief and find negative information about Nadeau. She resigned from her role months later.

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Then, on a March 1, 2022, city council meeting, Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris made comments that Nadeau claims accused him of unethical and criminal activity and encouraged the city to hire the chief based on race. The mayor released a statement in which he did endorse Green. The police union, on the other hand, had endorsed Nadeau.

Nadeau resigned the day after Harris made the comments, claiming they amounted to discharging him from the role and he had “no choice.” His lawsuit states that Harris’s comments and mass publication of them “will have serious detrimental impacts” on his career.

Green was ultimately named the police chief the following week.

Nadeau’s lawsuit states that he’s seeking at least $75,000.

In a statement, Golden Valley disagreed with Nadeau’s claims and said it will fight them in court.

“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.”

City of Golden Valley