Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mormons for Equality marches in the Salt Lake City Pride Parade, Sunday, June 7, 2014.
Attorney: Utah cop ‘defamed’ by Gay Pride Parade conflict

First Published Jun 09 2014 04:51 pm • Last Updated Jun 10 2014 11:01 am

A Salt Lake City police officer says the department defamed him and violated his rights when he was put on leave after a conflict over his assignment at Sunday’s Utah Pride Parade.

"He feels that the same protections that afford individuals to participate in a parade like we had yesterday, are the very constitutional protections that were not afforded to him," Bret Rawson, the officer’s attorney, said Monday.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The police department and Rawson have not identified the officer, who made national news last week when the department told The Salt Lake Tribune he had been put on leave for refusing to work an assignment at the annual gay pride parade.

Rawson said the officer did not refuse his assignment — to join other motorcycle officers in choreographed maneuvers at the beginning of the parade — but instead asked his commanders for a "less conspicuous" role at the parade, such as traffic enforcement or security.

"The officer simply felt that the level of participation required in the event could be perceived as endorsing or advocating in favor of the LGBTQ community, a position which made him uncomfortable, given his personal and religious beliefs," Rawson wrote.

"He never refused to do his job," Rawson added in an interview Monday. "He specified that if he was required to do [the motorcycle assignment], he would do that. So he was very surprised that he was put on administrative leave."

Being put on leave and at the center of a "media circus" amounts to "constructive termination," Rawson said — although the officer has not resigned and the department has not officially fired him.

"No reasonable, rational person could stay at work under these circumstances," Rawson said.

The attorney said the officer has not decided what his next steps will be or whether he would challenge the department’s actions.

Police spokeswoman Lara Jones said Monday: "Having received notice of pending litigation, we’ll be unable to comment" on the officer’s claims. Salt Lake City spokesman Art Raymond said the city received correspondence with "the implication that litigation will be forthcoming."


story continues below
story continues below

Jones would not discuss details of the officer’s alleged refusal of the assignment or whether it entailed duties apart from the choreographed motorcycle maneuvers.

The officer joined the motorcycle squad within the past year, Rawson said, and previously had not been approached to ride at the beginning of the parade.

On Friday, Jones had confirmed that internal affairs officers were investigating the officer’s alleged refusal to work the parade.

Jones then also told The Tribune: "The vast majority of officers, when they come to work, they understand that they leave their personal opinions at home and serve the community."

Jones added, "We have gay men and women that serve in the police department. One officer’s situation does not reflect the vast majority of officers that work in the Salt Lake City Police Department, and certainly not Chief [Chris] Burbank’s."

ealberty@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.