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Published On: Thu, Oct 9th, 2014

Indiana police officer Brian Hamilton sued after handing religious material at traffic stop

 An Indiana State Trooper has created a firestorm of debate after giving a driver a warning for an illegal pass and then passing her some religious material.

Trooper Brian Hamilton pulled over Ellen Bogan along U.S. 27 back in August, giving her a warning for speeding and her “illegal pass,” but then offered a religious pamphlet and asked about her spiritual state.

photo Scott Davidson

photo Scott Davidson

The woman, Ellen Bogan, 60, has now filed a lawsuit, saying the incident violated her First and Fourth Amendment rights, WLWT.com reports.

Bogan says Hamilton kept the police car lights flashing during the traffic stop, but after the officer handed over the warning ticket, he asked her if she had a home church and if she accepted Jesus Christ as her savior.

The pamphlet advertised a radio program called “Policing for Jesus Ministries” hosted by “Trooper Dan Jones.”

Bogan was shocked at Hamilton’s alleged actions and decided to file the lawsuit with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“It’s completely out of line and it just — it took me aback,” she told the Indianapolis Star.

Bogan said she is not religious, but felt she could not leave or refuse questioning because Hamilton was in uniform and had his patrol car parked behind hers.

“The whole time, his lights were on,” Bogan said, according to RawStory.com “I had no reason to believe I could just pull away at that point, even though I had my warning.”

Indiana State Police spokesman David Bursten confirmed that State Police received notice about the lawsuit, but said the agency does not comment on pending litigation, USA Today reports.

Burstan added that there isn’t a specific policy that addresses officers who distribute religious materials, according to the Associated Press.

Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, says that while a traffic stop might not have been the best time to quiz someone about faith, it doesn’t mean the officer should lose his right to free speech.

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  1. Towanna says:

    I do understand First Amendment rights and the violation of them. However, I applaud this police officer for what he did. With so much violence and hostility being portrayed by some officers lately, this one deserves praise. He was not only concerned about this woman violating the law but also her soul. If she took offense to being handed the religious material, obviously her soul is in jeopardy. Kudos, Trooper Hamilton and may God richly bless you and your family!

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