Officer receives $75K lawsuit settlement after getting suspended for off-duty prayers in uniform at abortion clinic

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A police officer with the Louisville Metro Police Department has accepted a $75,000 settlement by the city after he was photographed praying outside an abortion clinic and subsequently suspended, his attorney said.

Officer Matthew Schrenger was photographed on Feb. 20, 2021 in his police uniform outside the EMW Women’s Surgical Center. His attorney said the 13-year law enforcement veteran was there to pray “quietly” with his father, according to WAVE 3.

Chief Erika Shields said in June that Schrenger had engaged in protest activity while wearing a uniform, which is against the department’s policy, the Washington Examiner reported.

Matthew Schrenger
In February 2021, LMPD Officer Matthew Schrenger was spotted in his uniform outside Kentucky’s only abortion clinic, the EMW Women’s Surgical Center.(Viewer photo via WAVE 3 News)

After a four-month suspension with pay, Schrenger returned to work in June.

Although Schrenger drove his patrol car to the clinic, Shields said he appeared to try to cover up his uniform after arriving there. Therefore, Shields determined that Schrenger’s alleged violation of operating procedures was “not sustained.”

He filed a lawsuit in October against Louisville’s mayor, police chief, and police department, saying his constitutional and civil rights were violated when he was placed on administrative leave over photographs showing him praying outside the facility while off-duty, according to a statement from his attorney.

Now the city and officer have reached a settlement agreement, the Examiner reported.

“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,” Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Matt Heffron said Thursday. “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.”

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