A police officer of the Louisville Metro Police Department have received $75,000 in legal settlement from the city government for his unjust suspension from work last February 2021, which happened after he prayed outside an abortion clinic while off-duty.
The Christian Post reported that the police officer, Matthew Schrenger, filed the lawsuit against the city's Police Chief Erika Shields and Mayor Greg Fischer last October 2021 through the pro-life legal organization Thomas More Society.
Christianity Daily reported in June that Schrenger, then unnamed during his suspension, went to the closed EMW Women's Surgical Center on a Saturday morning in February to pray with his father for thirty minutes. Schrenger, a veteran Louisville police of 13 years who received numerous commendations, was not wearing a uniform at that time and the street in front of EMW was deserted.
Afterwards, he went to work and was off to start his rounds for the day when he was called back to the office to be notified he is suspended for four months because he prayed in front of EMW. The investigation on him took place after he was stripped of power and declared on administrative leave with pay on accusations of violating the city's Standard Operating Procedure.
EMW Women's Surgical Center's promoters posted photos of Schrenger in prayer in Twitter that garnered public scrutiny. The said photos were obtained from the clinic's security video that showed, as per Thomas More, two men praying peacefully with a rosary in front of a closed abortion clinic on a deserted street. Yet EMW claimed that Schrenger was intimidating to their staff and patients and even held a sign that read, "pray to end abortion."
Thomas More pointed out that the Louisville Metro Police Department took months before they lifted Schrenger's suspension and asked him back to report to work. The pro-life organization said Schrenger was targeted for praying in private outside the abortion clinic when other officers have done something similar in the past yet received no criticism. He also experienced discriminatory disciplinary measures because of his pro-life stand.
The Thomas More disclosed they obtained information through an open-records request on other officers receiving no suspension nor whatever disciplinary measures who have done something similar with Schrenger.
"The treatment of Officer Schrenger 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," Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Matt Heffron highlighted in a statement.
"The unfair discipline revealed undeniably content-based discrimination against Officer Schrenger's personal pro-life views and violated his First Amendment rights. He did not engage in any political protest on duty--he prayed quietly. Yet Officer Schrenger was punished for this peaceful, private behavior. He was treated very differently than other officers who had undeniably engaged in true political protest and activism while participating in LGBT and Black Lives Matter demonstrations," he added.
In line with the settlement, Heffron expressed appreciation of the city's "quick offer" to amend a "violation" against a loyal and hardworking officer.
"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," Heffron said.