Indianapolis – A 14 year veteran state police officer was terminated Thursday for a second complaint, in less than 18 months, that he was proselytizing citizens after stopping them for a traffic violation. This was in direct violation of an August 2014 counseling statement where Senior Trooper Brian L. Hamilton was told in writing, “During the course of his official duties, S/Trp. Hamilton will not question others regarding their religious beliefs nor provide religious pamphlets or similar advertisements.” This prior allegation also resulted in a lawsuit that named the Indiana State Police as a defendant, and was brought to a close in April of 2015.
The most recent allegation of Hamilton questioning a citizen’s religious affiliation, while engaged in enforcement actions, was reported in a citizen complaint on January 14, 2016. This resulted in an Internal Investigation being initiated on January 15, 2016, which was concluded March 9, 2016. Formal charges were drafted on March 22, 2016, and on this same day, a hearing date was scheduled for 8:30 a.m., April 7, 2016.
Totally separate from the Indiana State Police internal investigation, and without the knowledge of the Indiana State Police, the Indiana Civil Liberties Union (ICLU) was preparing a lawsuit against Hamilton as an individual. The lawsuit became a public record on April 6, 2016, which resulted in many media outlets calling the Indiana State Police to inquire about the lawsuit. It was later determined the Indiana State Police was NOT named in the lawsuit against Hamilton.
On April 7, 2016 the formal hearing for Hamilton was held, as originally planned, after which Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter met with Hamilton and formally ended his employment with the Indiana State Police.
Superintendent Doug Carter said, “While all of us – citizen and police officer – enjoy the right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech, there are appropriate and proper restrictions placed on agents of the State related to their actions while engaged in their official duties.” Carter continued, “While I respect Mr. Hamilton’s religious views I am also charged to respect every citizen’s rights and the best way forward for the citizens of Indiana, and for Mr. Hamilton, was to end his employment as a state police officer.” Carter concluded, “Making the decision to end a person’s career is not a decision I make without considerable thought. I truly wish Brian the best in his future and the ability to follow his heart.”
Captain David Bursten, the Chief Public Information Officer for the state police said, “It needs to be clearly understood that the state police internal investigation and the public announcement of the ICLU lawsuit against Mr. Hamilton are independent and separate issues.” Bursten concluded, “The internal investigation was initiated, conducted, concluded and scheduled for the April 7th hearing over two weeks prior to the state police having any knowledge of the ICLU lawsuit. Today’s termination of Hamilton’s employment with the state police was the result of a thorough internal investigation and would have occurred regardless of any legal action initiated by the ICLU against Mr. Hamilton.”
This is a timeline of actions taken as a result of the complaint against Hamilton, inclusive of other actions not associated to the state police internal investigation:
- On January 14, 2016 a citizen complaint is filed with the Indiana State Police alleging Hamilton questioned a citizen’s religious affiliation during the course of a traffic stop for alleged violation of an Indiana traffic law
- On January 15, 2016 Hamilton is notified an Internal Investigation has been initiated and he is assigned Administrative Duties
- On February 16, 2016 the review process of the internal investigation begins On March 9, 2016 the review is completed and the drafting of formal charges begins
- On March 22, 2016 a hearing date is scheduled for April 7, 2016 and all involved persons are notified
- On April 6, 2016 the Indiana State Police receives multiple media inquiries asking for comment about the Indiana State Police being sued by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union (ICLU) the result of the most recent allegation made against Hamilton
- Review of the media inquiries by the Indiana State Police determine Hamilton is being sued as an individual by the ICLU and the Indiana State Police is NOT named in the suit
- On April 7, 2016 the hearing, as originally scheduled on March 22, 2016, was conducted, after which Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter rendered a decision to end Hamilton’s employment as a state police officer
The Indiana State Police cannot operate efficiently without the support and trust of the citizens we serve. To continue fostering citizen support, the Indiana State police, with this release, are including all public and discretionary documents related to Brian Hamilton’s counseling and disciplinary records during his employment with the Indiana State Police, as noted below:
Former Senior Trooper Brian Hamilton, 40, of Connersville, Indiana was employed with the state police from December 9, 2001 to April 7, 2016. His last duty assignment was at the Pendleton State Police Post. Hamilton was on Administrative Duty assignment at the Pendleton Post from January 15, 2016 until his termination of employment on April 7, 2016.