A law enforcement official out in Kentucky who was forced onto administrative leave for a few month stretch due to the morning he spent praying outside of a Louisville abortion clinic while off-duty has slammed both the city and the police department with a lawsuit.
The officer in question, Officer Matthew Schrenger, filed a federal lawsuit this past Monday that accused the city of Louisville and the Louisville Metro Police Department of violating his constitutional and civil rights, going so far as to claim a violation of his First Amendment rights.
“A quiet, off-duty prayer, on a public sidewalk, resulted in Schrenger being immediately suspended for over four months, stripped of his police powers, and placed under investigation,” reads the complaint.
The lawsuit cites Police Chief Erika Shields, the Louisville Metro Police Department, Mayor Greg Fischer, and the City of Louisville, Kentucky as the defendants in the suit.
Early Saturday morning on the 20th of February, Schrenger took a trip out to the EMW Women’s Surgical Center and stood at his father’s side while praying the rosary outside of the clinic. The clinic was not scheduled to perform any procedures at all that day, as stated by the legal representation for the officer.
A photo of the officer showing him carrying his firearm near an LMPD cruiser was plastered over a Twitter account that was run by a group of volunteer escorts at the clinic. At the time he was off-duty, but still in uniform with a coat over it, as stated by his lawyer. Back in March, the clinic put out a section of surveillance footage that showed Schrenger pulling into the clinic in his cruiser just before 6 a.m., leaving the vehicle, and putting the jacket on, and then staying with another person just outside the clinic for roughly 45 minutes. At one point in the video, you can see him holding a sign that read, “pray to end abortion.”
He then left the facility to begin his normally scheduled regular patrol duties for the morning. Schrenger was ordered to go back to his main division’s office and was forced onto administrative leave with pay, which means that he was not allowed to make arrests, work cases, or work any overtime hours. He was then locked out of all his work computers and had his cruiser taken from him. As a result of the months spent on the administrative leave, Schrenger, who was a 13-year veteran to the force, lost a large amount of pay, which he relies upon in order to support his wife and their four small children.
The legal group representing Schrenger, the Thomas More Society, stated that the law group sent the LMPD a “complete legal analysis” of the allegations and issued the request that the matter is taken care of quickly and that schrenger be allowed to return to his duties.
The officer’s attorneys also stated that they discovered via an open-0records request to the LMPD that the department did not take any disciplinary actions whatsoever against the other officers who were on-duty and uniformed when they took part in the Black Lives Matter protests and marches or in LGBT parades. Those officers were even lauded within the force for their actions, claimed the legal team.