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Former Fargo police chief fights discrimination claims

Chris Magnus

FARGO - A civil trial continues today in California for a former Fargo police chief accused of racial discrimination by seven black members of his command staff.

Chris Magnus was Fargo's police chief from August 1999 until January 2006, when he left to take the chief's job in Richmond, Calif.

Magnus and his second-in-command, both of whom are white, as well as the city of Richmond were sued in March 2007 by seven high-ranking black officers who claim Magnus harassed them and denied some of them promotions because of their race.

Magnus, who is openly gay, has firmly denied the allegations and has the support of the Richmond City Council. After an independent attorney's inquiry into the discrimination claims, City Manager Bill Lindsay told The Forum in July 2007 he had "complete confidence" in Magnus' ability to lead the police department.

Jury selection began last week for the trial in Contra Costa County Superior Court, which is expected to last 12 weeks. The case has cost the city of Richmond at least $3 million, the Contra Costa Times reported.

The allegations against Magnus include that he and his former deputy chief made racially insensitive comments. The East Bay Express reported that Magnus has denied making all of the comments except for one in which he asked, when he learned of Juneteenth celebrations, "What's that, a holiday for shooting people?"

The Express reported that Magnus said that coming from Fargo, he had never before heard of the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.