Cop Back at Work after Being Suspended for Praying Outside of a Closed Abortion Clinic while Off Duty

Amanda Casanova

A police officer in Louisville, Kentucky, will return to work after he was placed on administrative leave for praying outside of a Louisville abortion clinic earlier this year.

The officer has not been named, but bystanders took video of him while he was praying outside of the EMW Women's Surgical Center, the state's only abortion clinic. The officer was off duty but driving his patrol car.

According to CBN News, the abortion clinic was closed, and the officer prayed for less than an hour in front of the building before dawn one February morning.

He was placed on administrative leave with pay, and the police department issued him notices of potential violations of their Standard Operating Procedures and a Kentucky statute.

His lawyer, Matt Heffron of the Thomas More Society, said that the officer had been praying the rosary with his father that morning and was not protesting.

"None of the officer's off-duty prayer was covered by the LMPD allegations, and any formal punishment, under these circumstances, would violate his First Amendment rights."

In March, the Thomas More Society and attorney Blaine Blood asked that the officer be reinstated. They also filed an open records request and found that previously, the department had not taken disciplinary action against on-duty, uniformed officers who participated in the Black Lives Matter and pro-LGBT rallies and parades.

"It was quickly clear to our lawyers, LMPD did not have a foot to stand on," Heffron said. "It's too bad it took LMPD four months to figure it out."

The police department decided the officer will not be punished further.

"We are happy for the officer that the Louisville Police Department finally did the right thing and put a good policeman back on the streets," Heffron said. "But it is astounding to those of us defending him – shocking actually – that the police department would treat a hardworking, loyal officer this way. They left him twisting in the wind for four months because of off-duty prayer."

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Aijohn784

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.