Brian Hamilton, a Senior Trooper with the Indiana State Police, has been fired after the department received multiple complaints of him allegedly proselytizing to people he stopped for traffic violations. According to The Washington Post, a lawsuit has been filed by an individual identified as Wendy Pyle in the United States District Court Southern District of Indiana against Hamilton for allegedly proselytizing to her during a traffic stop in January this year.
In the lawsuit, Pyle alleges that after Brian Hamilton pulled her over for speeding, he went back to his car and got a warning ticket. However, before handing her the ticket, Hamilton asked where Pyle attended church and whether she has been “saved.” The lawsuit states;
“Ms. Pyle was extremely uncomfortable with these questions. In order to hopefully end these inquiries Ms. Pyle indicated that she did attend a church and that she was saved.”
However, the matter didn’t end there. According the Ms. Pyle, Trooper Brian Hamilton went on to invite her to his church and also gave her directions to the venue. Later, she was approached by another person who attended the same church as Trooper Hamilton. He informed her that she was “placed on a prayer list” by Trooper Hamilton. Wendy alleges that she felt threatened and intimidated by the tooper’s actions.
“Ms. Pyle believes that everyone has a First Amendment right to believe and worship as they wish. However, she found it very intimidating to be blocked in by Trooper Hamilton while he asked her extremely personal and inappropriate questions.”
She also filed a formal complaint after the incident and claimed that Trooper Hamilton’s actions violated her First and Fourth Amendment rights. Wendy has also asked for a jury trial and is also reportedly seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
After the incident came to light, Hamilton was fired from his job. In a statement issued by the Indiana State Police, Superintendent Doug Carter said:
“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. 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.”
Meanwhile, the agency has confirmed that the decision to let go Trooper Brian Hamilton was taken after an internal investigation that was separate from the latest lawsuit filed against him. However, it became clear that this was not the first time the state trooper was sued for proselytizing. In the past 18 months, there have been two lawsuits against Trooper Hamilton for the same reason. In 2014, The Inquisitr had also reported about the incident in which Trooper Hamilton was sued by Ellen Bogan, who was given a pamphlet for a church along with a speeding ticket. Bogan had in her lawsuit alleged that Trooper Hamilton gave her a pamphlet from the First Baptist Church in Cambridge City. This pamphlet also asked readers to “acknowledge being a sinner.” Following this incident, he was let off with a warning to stop asking people about their religious beliefs or “provide religious pamphlets or similar advertisements” to them. However, it seems evident that he did not take those warnings seriously.
This was in direct violation of an August 2014 counseling statement where Senior Trooper Brian L. Hamilton was told in writing,
— Kara Kenney (@KaraKenney6) April 7, 2016
When asked by Fox 59 about the lawsuit and his subsequent firing, Brian Hamilton said;
“I am 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.”
Meanwhile, the Indiana State Police also confirmed that, since the initial complaint was filed by Wendy Pyle in January, Trooper Hamilton was placed on desk duty.
[Image Via Indiana State Police]