A Salt Lake City police officer, initially put on leave after he balked at riding as part of the department motorcycle unit’s gay pride parade entry, has resigned, the police department said Tuesday.
The officer, whose identity has not been released, reportedly cited religious convictions in asking for reassignment rather than participating directly in the parade — an act he saw as an endorsement of last Sunday’s Utah Pride Parade.
His lawyer, Bret Rawson, said the officer did not — as initially indicated by SLCPD officials — refuse the assignment, and would have ridden in the parade had he been ordered to do so.
“My client has made it clear to SLCPD that he is not returning,” Rawson said Tuesday. “He feels he has been subjected to needless ridicule by the department for merely expressing a desire to work the parade without participating in the parade.
“He was surprised that he was placed on administrative leave — a disciplinary action against him — and he feels this was a violation of his rights,” the attorney added.
Rawson said it would be inaccurate to say his client had quit.
“It’s a matter of him being ‘constructively terminated,’ which is legalese for ‘You [employer] made it unreasonable for me to stay, so I’m leaving’,” Rawson said.
However, a brief statement released later Tuesday afternoon by the office of Police Chief Chris Burbank clearly stated that the officer had indeed stepped down.
“The Salt Lake City Police Department has received a written resignation from the officer under internal investigation related to an assignment at last weekend’s Pride Parade. This closes the internal case. In light of pending litigation, no further comment will be provided at this time,” the statement read.
Earlier Tuesday, Rawson had reiterated that the officer “never refused to do his duty and made it clear to his supervisors that if required, he would perform the maneuvers in the parade as a motors officer.”
Rawson blasted the SLCPD’s “knee-jerk reaction” and statements to news media that now “makes it unreasonable for him to return to the department.”
Asked if the officer would file suit over the incident, Rawson would only say that no decision on possible litigation had yet been made.