Indiana State police fired a trooper Thursday for neglect of duty and insubordination after he allegedly proselytized people he pulled over.
The law enforcement agency terminated State Trooper Brian Hamilton after the ACLU filed a lawsuit saying Hamilton pulled Wendy Pyle over in January and, after giving her a warning, asked her if she was saved and invited her to church, Fox59 reports. The agency says the firing was because of an internal investigation, not the lawsuit, but the timing is interesting since the lawsuit was filed Tuesday.
The lawsuit says Hamilton “asked her extremely personal and inappropriate questions.” The lawsuit also says “Ms. Pyle was approached by someone who attended church with Trooper Hamilton who informed her that Trooper Hamilton had placed her on a prayer list.”
Hamilton has a history of these complaints. In 2014, someone else filed a complaint saying Hamilton gave them a pamphlet inviting them to church. Indiana State Police settled the suit and then told Hamilton to stop witnessing to people he pulled over.
“The pamphlet also outlines ‘God’s Plan of Salvation’ that requires the reader to acknowledge that she is a sinner and to realize that ‘Salvation is a gift and is received by faith in Jesus Christ’ and that ‘the Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins,’” the 2014 complaint reads. “Ms. Bogan said thank you to the Trooper and the Trooper said ‘God Bless You,’ and returned to his car.”
Hamilton said he was just trying to do what God wants him to do.
“While all of us — citizen and police officer — enjoy the right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech, there are appropriate and proper restrictions placed on agents of the State related to their actions while engaged in their official duties,” State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said in a statement. “While I respect Mr. Hamilton’s religious views I am also charged to respect every citizen’s rights, and the best way forward for the citizens of Indiana, and for Mr. Hamilton, was to end his employment as a State Police officer.”
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