ISP trooper fired for preaching during traffic stops
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 7, 2016)– Indiana State Police terminated a trooper Thursday after a second complaint in 18 months that he was preaching to citizens after stopping them for traffic violations.
State police say this was in direct violation of an August 2014 counseling statement where Senior Trooper Brian L. Hamilton, 40, was told in writing, “During the course of his official duties, S/Trp. Hamilton will not question others regarding their religious beliefs nor provide religious pamphlets or similar advertisements.”
The most recent traffic stop happened in January of this year, but Hamilton was sued in September of 2014 in a similar case, which was settled.
The ACLU filed a claim Tuesday on behalf of a Fayette County woman, Wendy Pyle, saying her constitutional rights were violated.
The lawsuit alleges Trooper Brian Hamilton of the ISP Pendleton post pulled the woman over for speeding and gave her a warning. He then asked her what church she went to and if she was saved. Documents said Hamilton invited Pyle to his church and even gave directions.
The complaint alleges Pyle answered “yes” to both questions because she was uncomfortable and wanted to end the stop.
“When he’s engaged in the official acts of his job, especially when he’s a police officer, those kinds of stops are inherently coercive. That is not the time to be talking to people about their religion,” said Richard Waples, an Indianapolis civil rights attorney.
Captain David Bursten, the Chief Public Information Officer for the state police said, “It needs to be clearly understood that the state police internal investigation and the public announcement of the ICLU lawsuit against Mr. Hamilton are independent and separate issues.” Bursten concluded, “The internal investigation was initiated, conducted, concluded and scheduled for the April 7th hearing over two weeks prior to the state police having any knowledge of the ICLU lawsuit. Today’s termination of Hamilton’s employment with the state police was the result of a thorough internal investigation and would have occurred regardless of any legal action initiated by the ICLU against Mr. Hamilton.”
Hamilton began working for ISP on December 9, 2001. His last duty assignment was at the Pendleton State Police Post. He was on administrative duty assignment at the Pendleton Post from January 15, 2016 until his termination Thursday.
CBS4 spoke with Hamilton over the phone after news broke of his termination.
“Oh well…I’m just following what the Lord told me to do and you can’t change what the Lord tells you to do. So if the Lord tells me to speak about Jesus Christ, I do. And that’s why they fired me so that’s where we’re at,” he said before disconnecting.
Video from previous story below: