The ACLU is suing an Indiana state trooper for violating a woman's constitutional rights after he reportedly preached about Christ while on duty -- again.
Wendy Pyle, from Fayette County, was pulled over in January by Trooper Brian Hamilton of the Indiana State Police Pendleton post for speeding. He gave her a warning and asked her which church she attended and if she was saved.
The grievance contends that Pyle replied “yes” to both questions because she was uncomfortable and wanted to end the encounter. He then invited Pyle to his church and even gave her directions, according to documents.
Pyle filed a formal complaint and was told she would suffer no repercussions. But a member from Hamilton’s church says the trooper had put Pyle on a prayer list, reports WXIN.
“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 who was not involved in the case.
Hamilton was previously sued for a similar act in September 2014, which was settled. Ellen Bogan claimed Hamilton stopped her for a supposed traffic violation in Union County. Bogan says after he gave her a warning ticket he asked her if she had a home church and whether she accepted Jesus Christ as her savior, according to IndyStar.
After the most recent complaint, Hamilton was moved to a desk job.
“There’s a time and a place for everything, and the officer has certainly overstepped his bounds on this one, if the facts in the complaint alleged are true,” Waples noted.
Reactions to the case against the evangelical trooper were mixed, according to WXIN.
“If he carried out his duty as a state trooper, first and foremost, and then wanted to witness to me, I still would not have been offended,” said Ana Garcia.
“I would be offended, more so, because it’s a state trooper, and that’s a governmental agency. But I wouldn’t be offended as to the content of the question,” Brett Day told the news station.
Indiana State Police confirmed that Hamilton was transferred to a desk job on January 15th, after a complaint was filed against him. Though, ISP won’t confirm or deny it was result of Pyle’s complaint.
Pyle is seeking a jury trial, punitive damages and attorney fees, according to IndyStar.
Both Hamilton and Pyle could not be reached for comment.