Fmr. Lexington police chaplain announces retirement, files defamation lawsuit
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – A former Lexington police chaplain at the center of a federal civil rights lawsuit says his own rights have been violated.
Officer Donovan Stewart has now filed his own civil lawsuit, accusing two organizers of recent protests in Lexington - Sarah Williams and April Taylor - of spreading lies about him and trying to get him fired. Ten unnamed individuals are also cited as defendants in the suit.
Stewart and his attorney addressed the lawsuit at a news conference Thursday afternoon, during which Stewart announced his retirement. Stewart was the chaplain for Lexington police until that position was dissolved earlier this week.
“The Lexington Police Department is a noble agency,” said Stewart during the press conference. “It is a courageous agency, full of men and women individuals, from a variety of backgrounds. that have a desire to protect and to serve this community. Though I will officially transition as an active officer, we have 600 plus that will continue to be faithful to serve this community.
Protesters, including Williams and Taylor, demonstrated outside the event at the Fraternal Order of Police.
The civil lawsuit filed against Stewart accuses him of repeatedly punching an autistic black teenager while responding to an incident at the Fayette Mall in 2019.
No disciplinary action was taken against him in connection to the incident. On Monday the department announced his position as chaplain had been dissolved, and he was being reassigned as a patrol officer.
Stewart’s attorney said Fayette County prosecutors independently reviewed the case and cleared him of any wrongdoing.
They have filed a lawsuit on behalf of Stewart and his wife, Becky, against Sarah Williams, April Taylor, and some unknown individuals.
That lawsuit claims defamation, emotional distress, invasion of privacy, interference with his ability to make money, and asks for punitive damages.
Prior to Stewart’s press conference, WKYT asked Sarah Williams – a named defendant in Stewart’s lawsuit – about the filing against her. She responded that she wasn’t afraid of the lawsuit and that Stewart can’t prove any of the things she has said aren’t true. She says she plans to continue to fight.
Here is the lawsuit:
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