Officer paid $75K for wrongful suspension after praying outside EMW Women’s Clinic in LMPD uniform
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The City of Louisville paid $75,000 to a Louisville Metro Police Department officer who was photographed outside a downtown Louisville abortion clinic while in uniform allegedly praying the rosary.
Officer Matthew Schrenger filed a lawsuit claiming his constitutional and civil rights were violated because he was placed on paid administrative leave while LMPD investigated his actions. He also claimed that Mayor Fischer, LMPD Police Chief Erika Shields, and other officers “persecuted” him for praying for pro-life causes outside of work, according to a statement from the Thomas Moore Society, a law firm based out of Chicago that prides itself on “restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty.”
On Feb. 20, 2021, Schrenger was seen in his LMPD uniform while off-duty outside the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, Kentucky’s only abortion clinic. Pro-life activists frequently gather outside the clinic to protest as patients and staff enter and leave. Schrenger’s attorney said his client was there to pray the rosary “quietly” with his father.
As Chief Erika Shields wrote in a June 2021 letter, after reviewing the case, it was clear that Schrenger engaged in protest activity while wearing uniform, which is against department policy. Although Schrenger drove his patrol car to the clinic, she said he appeared to try to cover up his uniform after arriving there. Therefore, Shields determined that Schrenger’s alleged violation of operating procedures was “not sustained.”
“The city’s quick offer of $75,000 shows the city knows it committed a significant and inexcusable violation of a loyal officer’s constitutional rights,” Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Matt Heffron said in a statement. “The treatment of Officer Schreger was particularly galling considering other Louisville police officers previously had marched, while on-duty and in uniform, in political protests that apparently were approved by the police department.”
Schrenger has worked for LMPD for 13 years, according to his lawyer.
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