"During these 'last days,' many employees are expected to carry a firearm. Bank or security guards, watchmen and policemen may even be required to do so to hold employment. But what of the Christian, who is obligated to 'provide for those who are his own'? ... His Bible-trained viewpoint would be different from that of worldly persons, who feel free to carry such weapons and to use them as they see fit in any dangerous situation that may arise. ... He will want to avoid bloodguilt, having in mind Jehovah's viewpoint on the sanctity of blood. ... A mature Christian should try to find unarmed employment. Some Witnesses by talking with their employer have been successful in changing to a job that does not require carrying a weapon. As the world becomes increasingly violent we can no longer regard as exemplary a brother who continues in armed employment. He could be allowed six months to make a change. If he does not make a change, he would not be in a position to hold special privileges of service and responsibility in the congregation."
NEW YORK v. DONALD J. NICHOLSON JR was the 1982-83 New York state criminal prosecution of a POPULAR and PROMINENT Jehovah's Witness Elder named Donald Nicholson Jr., then age 45, of the Warrensburg, New York Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Donald Nicholson is reported to have served as Convention Overseer or Department Head at multiple WatchTower conventions over the years.
The charismatic and previously well-liked Donald J. Nicholson is alleged to have sexually molested multiple children of his fellow Jehovah's Witnesses over the years before finally being publicly exposed as a pedophile. It is further alleged that multiple reports of alleged molestations may have been "buried" for many years before Don Nicholson finally made the mistake of molesting the young daughter of his own congregation's Presiding Overseer, Lee Steele, who just so happened to be employed as a New York State Trooper.
Allegedly, when Lee Steele initially learned of his daughter's molestation, Steele was pressured to keep the matter within the organization and out of public view. Being a sworn Police Officer, Steele refused to "play ball" with the Circuit Overseer and other WatchTower Cult representatives as to keeping the matter within the organization, or thereafter "shaping" his testimony so as to keep the WatchTower's teachings and policies out of the matter. In June 1982, with the cooperation of Steele and others, Don Nicholson was indicted on two counts of RAPE and two counts of sexual abuse committed against two females less than 11 years-old committed during Summer 1979.
In November 1982, when alleged efforts to intimidate other local JW Elders failed, with Steele and at least one other local JW Elder agreeing to testify honestly and completely against Nicholson, Donald J. Nicholson thereafter agreed to plead "guilty" to only the two counts of sexual abuse -- for which he received a sentence of 27 to 84 months in prison. Affirmed on appeal in December 1983.
MISCELLANEOUS EMPLOYMENT COURT CASES
STEPHANIE WATSON v. OHIO DEPARTMENT of REHABILITATION & CORRECTION was a 2013-17 Ohio federal employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a highly educated (Juris Doctor, Master of Education Administration) female African-American Jehovah's Witness named Stephanie Watson (DOB:1956). In August 2010, Stephanie Watson, then age 54, applied for and obtained a job as a Parole Officer with the ODRC at the Mansfield Adult Parole Authority. ODRC fired Stephanie Watson only 50 days later, on October 6, 2010, while Watson was still in the probationary period, after Watson failed to complete a mandatory firearms training program. (Parole Officers in Ohio apparently are required to carry firearms. Although Watson's failure to complete firearms training induced her termination, Watson actually completed part of the firearms training. Watson's failure to complete that training appears to have been caused by factors other than any religious objection to such, per the USDC opinion.)
ODRC cited multiple "incidents" and/or "write-ups" leading to Stephanie Watson's termination -- beginning on Watson's first day and continuing throughout. Stephanie Watson flatly denied all of them as untrue. After her termination, Stephanie Watson began to apply for other job openings with ODRC -- nearly 200 jobs across the state, including Automotive Technician and Assistant Medical Director. ODRC considered Watson eligible for re-hire, and even interviewed Watson for at least 12 of those 23 openings. However, Stephanie Watson was not re-hired by ODRC.
STEPHANIE WATSON v. SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION DISTRICT 99 and STEPHANIE WATSON v. OHIO DEPARTMENT of REHABILITATION & CORRECTION were unfair labor practice claims filed with the State Employment Relations Board in late 2010 or early 2011. In March 2011, the SERB unanimously dismissed with prejudice Watson's claims against both SEIU and ODRC.
In June 2011, Watson filed EEOC Charge #1, claiming that the ODRC terminated her due to retaliation, racial discrimination, and gender discrimination.
In July 2013, Watson filed EEOC Charge #2, claiming retaliation, racial discrimination, and gender discrimination for the ODRC's failure to hire her for three specific jobs for which she had applied.
In April 2015, Watson filed EEOC Charge #3, claiming retaliation and discrimination for the ODRC's failure to hire her for another specific job.
The EEOC issued right-to-sue letters for all three charges. Watson filed this federal lawsuit in December 2013, claiming retaliatory and discriminatory termination and failure-to-hire for the 23 jobs addressed here. Watson's original complaint also included claims of age discrimination, religious discrimination, and disability discrimination (Graves disease), but those claims were eventually dropped.
In March 2016, Watson's federal lawsuit was summarily dismissed in total by the USDC. In May 2017, the USCA affirmed that decision.
CHRISTOPHER EVANS v. CITY OF CLEVELAND OHIO POLICE DEPARTMENT is an ongoing 2014 Ohio federal employment discrimination civil lawsuit which involves an African-American former Cleveland Police Officer named Christopher Evans who converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses in 2012. Christopher Evans reportedly joined the department in 1993, and reportedly had no disciplinary actions (see below) prior to his termination sometime in 2013-14. After converting to the JWs, Chris Evans requested a demotion to a position which does NOT require the carrying of a firearm. Evans alleges that he got no cooperation from the department and little cooperation from the police Union. Supposedly because of the stress caused by his having to continue to carry a firearm, Evans reportedly began to experience mental health issues. Reportedly, in March 2014, Evans was ordered to obtain professional help, but at some point Evans allegedly failed to keep one or more appointments. For that and other possible reasons, Evans reportedly was issued a "disciplinary action", but Evans allegedly could not be located at his listed address. Evans reportedly was designated as "AWOL", and apparently at some point was terminated. Evans was most recently stationed at the Fourth District station. This federal lawsuit which alleges "failure to accommodate" was filed in June 2014. We look forward to additional clarifying details, including how EEOC dealt with Evan's claims. We can't help but wonder whether the "Christopher Evans" mentioned in this 2008 State of Ohio appellate court decision is the same person above???
BERNARD L. WESTBROOK v. NORTH CAROLINA A&T STATE UNIVERSITY is an ongoing 2008-14 North Carolina federal court case. A Greensboro, North Carolina Jehovah's Witness Elder, named Bernard L. Westbrook, currently age 63, is suing his former employer for religious discrimination after Westbrook was terminated for his refusal to carry a firearm during the course of his employment as a campus security and parking officer.
Bernard Westbrook was initially hired by the University on a temporary basis as a campus security and parking officer in 1994. Westbrook became a permanent employee in 1996, and worked in other departments, including the University's Human Resources Department from 1999 to 2006. In 2006, Westbrook was reassigned back to the Police and Public Safety Department, which by that time required campus security and parking officers to carry a firearm. At the time of that reassignment, Westbrook informed the HR Director that his WatchTower religion prevented him from carrying a weapon, so the decision was made to not require Westbrook to carry a firearm.
However, in 2008, a new Chief of the Police and Public Safety Department ordered Westbrook to attend weapons training, and threatened termination if he refused, for a number of good reasons. First, to allow Westbrook to continue to work in the Police and Public Safety Department without carrying a weapon placed Westbrook in personal danger, plus made the University liable for any harm that might come to Westbrook during the course of his duties as a security officer as a result of his failure to have a weapon. Second, allowing Westbrook to not carry a firearm threatened the Police Department's accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. When Westbrook twice refused to attend scheduled weapons training, he was terminated in October 2008.
In March 2009, Westbrook filed a religious discrimination complaint with the EEOC, and received a right-to-sue letter in March 2012. In May 2012, Bernard L. Westbrook filed this federal lawsuit in which he alleged that he had been terminated because of his religious beliefs and practices, and that the University failed to accommodate those religious beliefs and practices by placing him in another suitable position at the University for which he was qualified.
Westbrook also attempted to bolster his case by also alleging that he had been the subject of a hostile work environment and disparate treatment. Westbrook attempted to claim that his refusal to carry a firearm did not become an issue until after Westbrook had refused his supervisor's request to oversee the department's Christmas Party in December 2007. Westbrook further alleged that, in 2008, when he had requested "time off" to attend a WatchTower Convention, that his supervisor had required Westbrook to notify his co-workers of the reason for his requested leave, and to obtain their written consent for him to take his leave, prior to granting Westbrook the leave -- which was granted. (Does anyone else suspect that there was more complications and other details to this "leave" situation than Westbrook disclosed to the court? Remember, this was at the summary judgment stage, not at trial.)
Westbrook also named two of his former supervisors as parties to this lawsuit, but they were dismissed from the lawsuit by the USDC. In September 2014, the USDC granted the University's motion for summary judgment on Westbrook's disparate treatment and hostile work environment claims, but decided to allow Westbrook's "failure to accommodate" claim to proceed to trial. Outcome pending.
An African-American Jehovah's Witness, who was employed as a Connecticut State Trooper, named Kenneth Hall, age 57, was critically injured, on Sept. 2, 2010, after his police cruiser was rear-ended on I-95, while Hall was sitting inside his cruiser writing a traffic ticket for a tractor-trailer that he had pulled over. While nearly all media reports either implied or explicitly stated that Trooper Ken Hall had been killed at the scene of the accident, or explicitly stated that Hall was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, one lone media report truthfully reported that, "Hall was rushed to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, [Massachusetts], where he later died." The truthful media report further related that Hall's family was rushed to the hospital -- indicating that Hall lived for some time after arriving at the hospital. Such facts are significant only to those sufficiently familiar with the beliefs and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses to immediately suspect that Trooper Kenny Hall was denied life-saving blood transfusions -- either at his own direction, or that or his loving family members. Hall's obituary stated that Hall was a member of one of the Hartford, Connecticut Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, and that he "participated in mission work all over the Hartford area". Hall's elaborate funeral was conducted at the Connecticut State Armory, and included full "military honors".
MELVIN GUEVARA v. COUNTY OF ORANGE was a 2006-08? California Workers Compensation Claim lawsuit filed by the surviving Jehovah's Witness Family of a deceased Orange County Sheriff's "Special Officer" named Melvin Guevara. Few details known, but apparently some or all "workers compensation" benefits had been denied due to the circumstances of Melvin Guevara's death. Any and all denials were being appealed.
Officer Guevara was a 24 year-old former Orange County Animal Control Officer who, in 2005, despite the WatchTower Society's quasi-prohibition against employment which requires the carrying of firearms, applied with the Orange County Sheriff's Department for a badge-wearing, gun-carrying, sworn law enforcement officer position as a Sheriff's "Special Officer", which is a rank below "Deputy". Rookie Officer Guevara was assigned to work at John Wayne Airport. Assumedly on his way home after his shift had ended at the Airport on New Years Eve 2006, Melvin Guevara came onto a automobile accident on the 91 freeway. Guevara stopped to see if he could render assistance and was killed when another oncoming vehicle could not see the overturned vehicle in the rain and plowed into one or more stopped vehicles. One local reporter attended the funeral and wrote:
"I didn't know Officer Guevara. But I went to his funeral at Westminster Memorial Park last Wednesday, where hundreds of people - family members, friends, other police officers, members of his Jehovah's Witness congregation - gathered under a warm blue sky, around a coffin flanked by a sheriff's honor guard, to celebrate his too-short life. ... ... Then the honor guard and Sheriff Carona presented a folded American flag to the young widow, and a sheriff's deputy bugled the mournful strains of [Taps]."
ALLEN-CURRY v. TEXAS DEPT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE was a 2002 Texas court case which awarded $544,000.00 to a Riverside, Texas, Jehovah's Witness named Vicki Allen-Curry. Allen-Curry's supervisor, Warden Richard Watkins, was in the habit of opening and closing monthly staff meetings with prayer. Allen-Curry refused to be present during such prayers. When she was suspended for five days and put on probation due to such refusal, Allen-Curry retired prematurely in 1998, after working for TDCJ for 18 years. In June 2002, a Texas jury decided that Allen-Curry's resignation was "forced", and awarded her $500.000.00 for wrongful termination and back pay, plus $44,000 in attorney fees.
WASHINGTON v. SUSAN M. JONES, WASHINGTON v. MARTIN A. JONES, and SCOTT JOHNSON v. MARTIN A. JONES and SUSAN M. JONES are related State of Washington criminal and civil court cases which resulted from the February 2010 attempted murder of a Washington State Trooper and assault on a tow truck operator.
Around 12:15 A.M. on Sunday, February 13, 2010, Susan M. Jones, 45, was stopped for speeding by a Washington State Trooper about one mile from her Seaside, Washington home, but Susan Jones was thereafter arrested for D.U.I. Susan Jones then texted her husband, Martin A. Jones, a local BAIL BONDSMAN, regarding her arrest and the impoundment of her car.
Shortly thereafter, as a second Washington State Trooper and a tow truck operator prepared Susan Jones' van for tow, Martin Jones, 45, casually walked onto the scene and briefly questioned the Trooper and tow truck operator what they were doing without identifying himself as the owner of the vehicle. Jones then walked away. The Trooper and tow truck operator went back to processing Jones' auto for transport. Marty Jones then slipped back up behind the Trooper, grabbed him, and put a .22 caliber pistol to the back of his head -- firing twice and laughing. Jones then fled with the unarmed tow truck operator in pursuit. Jones stopped and fired at the tow truck operator, who retreated back to the scene. As the tow truck operator checked on the Trooper, Jones, realizing that the tow truck operator was unarmed, returned to the scene apparently to finish off the two "witnesses". Fortunately, the Trooper was still conscious -- being grazed by one bullet, and having a second bullet lodged near an ear. The Trooper was able to return fire, so Jones finally fled for good. The Trooper only had to spend two days in the hospital, and managed to identify Martin A. Jones as the assailant.
In March 2011, after a lengthy 7 week trial during which Jones denied being the shooter, Martin A. Jones was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison. In June 2013, that conviction was reversed on appeal due to a technicality. That decision was appealed to the Washington Supreme Court. Pending is either that decision or a new trial.
Interestingly, Martin A. Jones own family told the news media that he was an active Jehovah's Witness. Marty Jones reportedly was reared in the Kennewick, Washington area, and spent most of his life there abouts, but he did live and work for a time in Couer d'Alene, Idaho, and in Portland, Oregon. Jones family also deny that Jones was the shooter.
In February 2010, Trooper Scott Johnson, presently Sheriff Scott Johnson, filed a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for his injuries, but Jones has little or no money.
FIRPO CARR v. REDONDO BEACH POLICE DEPT ET AL was a 2000-1 California federal "civil rights" court decision. On June 30, 2000, an African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Firpo W. Carr, then 46, who reportedly was a civilian employee of the Los Angeles Police Department, was stopped while driving his automobile in a Redondo Beach shopping mall parking lot by a Redondo Beach Police officer, who was investigating a credit card fraud that had just been committed in one of the mall's retail stores. Firpo Carr's auto was the same color as was the suspect's auto. In December 2000, Firpo W. Carr filed a $5,000,000.00 federal lawsuit against that police officer, the Chief of Police, and the City of Redondo Beach, in which Carr alleged that the Redondo Beach Police Department engaged in "racial discriminatory acts", including "racial profiling". Firpo Carr reportedly also sought out much public attention to his case. In press conferences, community meetings, and talk radio programs, Carr said the motivation for the stop was "DWB" ("Driving while Black"), and was not based on any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. In June 2001, the USDC dismissed the Chief of Police and the City of Redondo Beach from the lawsuit. In July 2001, the USDC dismissed the individual police officer, thereby ending the case. The judge labeled Carr's allegations as "unfounded".
CARR v. REDONDO BEACH POLICE DEPT ET AL was a 2008 California federal appellate court decision. Given that this USCA opinion is dated April 2008, it appears that Firpo W. Carr filed this second "losing" federal lawsuit against the City of Redondo Beach, the Chief of Police, and one or more individual police officers, sometime in 2007, or 2006. This was an appeal by Firpo Carr after the USDC summarily dismissed his lawsuit. The USCA affirmed the dismissal. Per this opinion, which does not date the incident, it appears that Carr was again stopped by Redondo Beach Police officers -- this time in a residential neighborhood -- who were investigating a female citizen's report that someone was burglarizing the home of a neighbor. One can't help but wonder whether at the time Carr was doing door-to-door JW recruiting? The USCA stated, in part:
"... Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Carr, we conclude that there is no genuine issue of material fact with respect to any of Carr’s claims. ... The stop did not violate the Fourth Amendment because it was based on reasonable suspicion supported by the articulable facts provided by a citizen who reported that she thought that a man matching Carr’s description was burglarizing her neighbor. ... Nor was the length of the stop, approximately 20-25 minutes, constitutionally infirm, as it was limited to the time necessary to investigate the report and to determine that no crime had been committed.
"Given the nature of the crime suspected, and the report from the neighbor of large, full pockets, it was reasonable for one officer to draw his gun (which he did not point at Carr) and for another to conduct a pat down search of Carr’s person to determine if he had a weapon. ... The amount of force used to carry out the pat down was objectively reasonable. ...
"There is also no genuine issue of material fact with respect to Carr’s claim under Monell ... (1978), because there was no constitutional violation. Carr’s state law tort claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery, and false imprisonment fail for the same reason. Though Carr turned out to be wholly innocent of wrongdoing, there is no evidence of any unconstitutional motive or conduct by the police, just a reasonable investigation of the neighbor’s call."
For those readers, Jehovah's Witnesses or otherwise, who do not recognize the name Firpo W. Carr, Carr is probably the best-known Jehovah's Witness in the state of California. Carr has authored a number of books on topics related to the JWs, and his photo has even appeared in the WATCHTOWER magazine. Carr has also been labeled in media reports as "the spiritual advisor" of various members of the Michael Jackson family.
KELLY v. MUNICIPAL COURTS OF MARION COUNTY was a 1996 Indiana federal lawsuit involving an African-American Jehovah's Witness named David Kelly. Kelly worked as a Bailiff in the Indianapolis courtroom of Judge Wendell Mayer. Mayer discharged Kelly, ostensibly for poor job performance as well as for inappropriate conduct, including proselytizing and reading the Bible in public areas of the courthouse. In response, Kelly brought suit, claiming that he was harassed and ultimately fired due to his race, religious beliefs, and refusal to contribute to and work for the Republican Party. After dismissing some of Kelly's claims as barred by the Eleventh Amendment and granting summary judgment against Kelly on most of the others, the district court conducted a jury trial on Kelly's claim that he was fired due to his political beliefs. The district court granted Mayer's motion for judgment as a matter of law. The appellate court affirmed.
This decision contains some info which all employers should find highly informative: When Mayer initially interviewed Kelly in August 1989, he informed Mayer that he had once studied with the Jehovah's Witnesses, whose religious doctrine prohibited members from voting or participating in the political system. However, Kelly stated that he wasn't sure about the Jehovah's Witnesses and intended on remaining a Republican at that time. By January 1990, Kelly informed the Chief Bailiff that he was no longer going to contribute 2 percent of his salary to the Republican Party, because to do so would violate the religious dictates of the Jehovah's Witnesses. In April-May 1990, Kelly further informed the Chief Bailiff that, in keeping with his religious beliefs, he did not intend to work at the polls for the Republican Party during the May primary. Kelly kept a Bible on his desk, which was located in an area of the office that was open to the public, and read such in the public reception area during slow periods. He also read the Bible to prisoners while they were waiting in the holding cells. Mayer instructed Kelly to refrain from reading the Bible or proselytizing in public areas because he believed that such activities could suggest that the court was promoting religion and would thus be a violation of the Judicial Code of Ethics, to which Mayer and his staff were bound.
MINER v. CITY OF GLENS FALLS was a 1992 New York federal case involving a Jehovah's Witness named Donald Miner. Donald Miner was employed by the Glens Falls Police Department in 1966. In 1979, Miner converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses. ***In 1983, Miner formed the conviction that he could not work in any capacity that might require him to take the life of another human being or to carry or use a firearm. Miner was reassigned to a managerial position where he was not required to carry or use a weapon.*** In December 1985, the Board Of Public Safety passed a resolution requiring that all police personnel carry firearms at all times while on duty. At no time, however, did Chief Duggan order Miner to carry a firearm. After Resolution 50 was adopted, Duggan permitted Miner to remain with the police force through June of 1986 to enable him to complete 20 years of service and thereby increase his pension. However, Miner was eventually fired in August 1986 due to his refusal to carry a weapon. Miner promptly filed an unemployment insurance claim. Benefits were granted upon a finding by the New York State Department of Labor that he was involuntarily discharged under non-disqualifying circumstances. Miner also commenced an action in New York State Supreme Court, which he subsequently discontinued in order to pursue a federal lawsuit. The federal Appeals court awarded Miner roughly $250,000.00.
Described by his widow, Francine Hinton Toney, as being "strait-laced" during his teen years growing up in Baltimore, Sean Hinton was reared as a Jehovah's Witness. By 1992, then 22 year-old Sean Hinton sought employment as a law enforcement officer with the Baltimore Police Department, in order to support his wife, two infant sons, and a 5 year-old (step?) daughter. By mid-October 1992, all seemed to be going well. Hinton had nearly completed work at the academy, and was undergoing field training. Graduation and becoming a sworn officer were only a few short weeks away. However, on Friday night, October 24, 1992, Sean Hinton had an auto accident in downtown Baltimore, and was arrested and jailed for DUI. Hinton spent most of that Saturday getting out of jail, and getting his auto out of impoundment. Later that same Saturday afternoon, at 5:40 PM, the troubled Sean Hinton penned a short note to his wife, which stated in part:
"Francine you have dealt with me 4 years, and you never seemed to believe I really loved you -- I do love you. You have Jehovah on your side. I have no one. I need Jehovah but I just can't seem to reach him. So I guess I will see someone. Please take care of our children for me."
Shortly thereafter, Sean Hinton left the housing project apartment which he, his wife, and their children shared with Sean's mother, Jean Hinton. Hinton walked out of the project, rather than driving his auto. At 6:48 PM, Hinton telephoned home from Amtrack's Penn Station to say that he would be home shortly. However, when he didn't return by midnight, his mother and wife reported him missing. Hinton did not return home that weekend, nor to his job on Monday.
On Tuesday, November 3, 1992, Sean Hinton's partially decomposed corpse was found floating in NYC harbor. His wrists were tied together using the drawstrings from the jacket he was wearing. His wallet contained a small amount of cash, and multiple pieces of ID. The autopsy indicated that Hinton had died from drowning several days previous. The NYC medical examiner eventually ruled Hinton's death to be a suicide, but issued the death certificate without a cause of death listed. Curiously, the Baltimore Police Department gave the unsworn Hinton a police funeral and burial, paid for all the expenses, and even reportedly paid out Hinton's insurance benefits to his family, despite the fact that due to the DUI, and failing to return to work, Hinton reportedly had been officially recommended for termination on or about October 28/29, 1992.
Because of all those uncertainties, and others too numerous to mention in this summary, Francine Hinton, Jean Hinton, and other family members refused to believe that Hinton had committed suicide, but rather believed that he had been murdered by corrupt members of the Baltimore Police Department. On Tuesday, October 21, 1992, during Hinton's field training, Hinton and two regular drug-enforcement officers busted an alleged drug dealer. That alleged drug dealer later filed a formal complaint in which he accused the three officers of burglarizing drugs and cash from his home while he was in jail. Hinton's family believe that he was murdered to keep him from testifying in the inquiry that later cleared the two drug-enforcement officers.
MARYLAND v. HINTON. The 1992 case of Sean Hinton was brought back to the public's attention in June 2006, when Hinton's by-then 15 year-old son, Ronald Hinton, was arrested for the rape and murder of the 4 year-old female cousin that he was babysitting. The Hinton family resurrected the case in efforts to excuse why Ronald Hinton had essentially confessed to committing the crime to police interrogators. Although Francine Toney believed and still believes that her son was innocent, in May 2008, a Baltimore jury convicted Ronald Hinton of the rape and murder. Hinton was sentenced to life plus 25 years in prison.
In December 1991, Leslie Roark, a Deputy Sheriff, of Moniteau County, Missouri, was shot and killed while answering a domestic dispute call. Roark's status as a JW is not known, but his funeral talk was delivered by JW Elder Don Schreimann, of the California, Missouri Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
In May 1988, a 37 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Cpl. Howard S. Levitt, who was a veteran Philadelphia area police officer, committed suicide inside his assigned police van, which was sitting in a district headquarters' parking lot. Steve Levitt first doused the inside of the van with gasoline, ignited such, and then shot himself in the head with his service pistol. Another officer who was also arriving for the start of the AM shift pulled Levitt from the burning van, but Levitt was dead from the gunshot.
In February 1986, U.S. Customs Patrol Officer Glenn R. Miles, 42, whose son told reporters that Miles was a "very religious" Jehovah's Witness, was murdered along the Mexican border by Mexican drug smugglers while on duty on the Arizona Indian Reservation on which he lived and to which he had been assigned since joining the U.S. Customs Service in 1976. Officer Miles received all the honors typically received by law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, including having a federal law enforcement facility in Florida named after him.
However, two of the Mexican Nationals eventually arrested for the murder alleged that Glenn Miles had been accepting bribes from their gang, and that "part" of the reason that Miles had been killed was because he had demanded even larger bribes. Such allegations are common, and there is no way to confirm nor disprove such. However, the Customs agency's claim that Miles was tracked down and assassinated by the smugglers is just as unbelievable when compared with some of the scattered details available on the web.
Officer Miles not only was an experienced Customs agent, but he had been employed by the tribal police force on the same reservation prior to joining the Customs agency. Miles had recently remarried after going through a divorce, and may have possibly conquered a drinking problem. On the night in question, Miles was patrolling alone, but was on duty with two other Customs officers who were also residents of the reservation, when he radioed in that he had spotted three possible smugglers. The two other officers supposedly found his dead body only 30 minutes later. Miles own sidearm was missing. Miles reportedly had been shot twice. The apparent first shot went through his [apparently dominant] hand, then through his chest, and out through his back. A second shot through the back of his head was probably fired thereafter. These circumstances raise the question why someone with Miles vast experience would have approached a group of smugglers alone, lightly armed, and apparently without exercising extreme caution.
WADE HAMPTON v. PASCO COUNTY SHERIFF was a 1996-8 Florida federal lawsuit involving an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Wade Hampton Jr. Wade Hampton, age 43, had worked in the Pasco County corrections system for 16 years in administrative positions which apparently had not require him to carry a firearm. Then, in 1995, Hampton accepted an offer of a promotion to a position transporting prisoners. When Hampton thereafter disclosed that his religious beliefs prohibited him from carrying a firearm, or otherwise using deadly force, Wade Hampton was demoted to the then only available position -- a clerical position at one-half the pay rate. Wade Hampton thereafter filed a complaint with the EEOC, and then later filed this federal religious discrimination lawsuit. After two days of testimony, the USDC issued a directed verdict in favor of the Employer.
The September 1983 issue of EBONY magazine featured a picture of the Chief-Of-Police of Opa-Locka, Florida, on its cover, and in the article "Man of God and Gun", the Chief's career and accomplishments in law enforcement were praised. The article focused on the fact that the Chief had been licensed as an AME Minister in 1980, plus the article noted how the two professions meshed to enable the Chief to further help the community.
Also mentioned in the EBONY article was one of the department's three commanders, Cmt. Dorna Love, who was Florida's only female African-American to hold the position of Patrol Commander. Dorna Love started working for the department around 1975, and she also had been the department's first female detective. However, Dorna Love resigned from her law enforcement career in November 1984, at the age of 32. Why? Because Dorna Love was a Jehovah's Witness, and the WatchTower Society had recently tightened its teachings regarding members who were employed on positions that required them to carry a weapon. Ironically, the WatchTower Society, which prohibits females from holding any position of authority in the organization, and "supposedly" prohibits females from "teaching" males, directed its updated rules toward males in that those who continued in such employment were prohibited from holding positions of authority. Maybe Dorna Love should have thought her decision over much more slowly and carefully.
Interestingly, in November 1993, an African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Harvey Davis, was appointed to what had historically been considered one of the most "highly political" appointments in the City of Springfield, Illinois -- the CHIEF OF POLICE. The appointment was heralded in the November 15, 1993, issue of JET magazine. Harvey Davis served as Police Chief until his retirement in May 1995. In June 2003, the Illinois Times referred to the administration of Harvey Davis as "scandal-plagued" due to the JW being "blamed for the disappearance of money, drugs and guns from SPD's evidence room". Rickey B. Davis, brother of Harvey Davis, who was a patrolman in 1993, was promoted to "Sergeant" in 1994. His affiliation with the JWs, if any, is unknown. His racial discrimination lawsuit against the Springfield Police Department provides additional info.
In December 2010, the main newspaper in the African country of Swaziland reported that a Jehovah's Witness employed in the Communications Department of a local Police Department was surprised when he exited Sunday services at his local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Waiting on services to end were officers from the Government Vehicle Anti-Abuse Unit. The JW Employee was charged with "using a government vehicle for any purpose other than that authorised". The Chief of the Government Vehicle Anti-Abuse Unit told reporters: "I believe it is a big sin to steal a government car and use it to go to a place of worship."
Note this obituary published in June 2005: "Xxxxxx ... was a life-long resident of the area. He was of the Jehovah's Witness faith. Xxxxx was a deputy for the Wwww County Sheriffs Dept. ... Funeral services were held ... Raymond J. Schneider officiating. (Ray J. Schneider just so happens to be a prominent representative of the Watch Tower Society. He would not be permitted to officiate at this funeral unless this JW Deputy Sheriff was "in good standing".)
Note this obituary published in October 2006: "Xxxxxx ... was a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall, ... . She loved guns and received her concealed weapons permit last year. ... A memorial service will be held ... with Xxxx Xxxx from the Hamilton Kingdom Hall officiating."
Note this obituary published in February 2007: "Funeral services for Agustin Piedra, Jr., 23, of Buffalo, Texas, ... worked as a prison guard for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He was a member of Jehovah Witness."
This Connecticut Post article features a Jehovah's Witness named Laura Azevedo, who works as a detention officer for the Bridgeport, Connecticut Police Dept. The article actually brags how the various skills developed as a JW makes Laura Azevedo a superior "cop", as noted by the title of the article: "Multilingual cop serves community well".
These "exceptions to the rule" demonstrate that Employers should keep two things in mind. Although JWs are strongly encouraged to not work in law enforcement, a few isolated incidents of Jehovah's Witnesses doing just that may exist. In ruling about JW beliefs in such cases, most courts will look at the individual's interpretations of denominational beliefs, not the denomination's, to determine whether a belief or practice is sincere.
LAWSON v. STATE OF WASHINGTON is a recent 2002 federal lawsuit filed by a Jehovah's Witness named Gregory Lawson. Although this decision contains a lengthy discussion, it does not answer the most obvious questions: Why in the world would a Jehovah's Witness apply to enter a State Trooper Training Academy in the first place? Would Lawson have been willing to carry a firearm after he graduated?
Lawson had twice applied to the Academy, and not once in the detailed personal questionnaire did he ever mention having personal briefs that might conflict with performing the duties of a state trooper, much less conflict with duties and obligations of the training program. During his first two days at the Academy, Lawson saluted the American Flag during the twice daily flag raising and lowering ceremonies without objection. However, during the second evening, Lawson approached his advisor and stated that he was being forced to resign because of a conflict between his personal religious beliefs and the requirements of the Academy. Specifically, Lawson stated that he could not salute the flag, nor could he swear the Oath required of state troopers, despite having stated that he could do so in his two previous applications. Per the facts summarized in the opinion, the Academy personnel made very little effort to discourage Lawson's quitting, and made practically no efforts at "accommodation". After leaving the program, Lawson filed religious discrimination charges with the state's Human Rights Commission and the EEOC. Thereafter, Lawson filed this federal lawsuit. The district court summarily dismissed Lawson's case and this appellate court affirmed.
WILSON v. GEORGETOWN COUNTY was a 1990-4 South Carolina court case. In September 1990, a Jehovah's Witness, named David Wilson Jr., 41, was called for jury duty in Georgetown County. During voir dire, Wilson informed the presiding judge that due to his religious beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness, he could not sit on a jury and sit in judgment of others. The trial judge declined to excuse Wilson, but informed Wilson that he would find alternate work for Wilson to do. Subsequently, the trial judge met privately with Wilson. The trial judge asked Wilson if he would be willing to serve in some other capacity. Wilson responded affirmatively. The following morning, Wilson reported to the Clerk of Court to begin his alternate service which consisted of janitorial work. While washing the outside court windows, Wilson slipped and fell from a ladder. As a result, he suffered an injury to his back. Wilson filed a claim with the Workers' Compensation Commission for temporary total benefits. Georgetown County denied coverage because Wilson was not considered an employee, since he was serving as a juror at the time of the accident. The single commissioner found that the Commission had jurisdiction to hear the matter and Wilson was a County employee performing alternate service. The Full Commission reversed the single commissioner, ruling that the Commission lacked jurisdiction. The circuit court reversed the Full Commission and ruled that Wilson was an employee and therefore the Commission had jurisdiction. On appeal, the Supreme Court of South Carolina ruled in Wilson's favor.
A somewhat related issue is ownership and use of firearms by Jehovah's Witnesses. While WatchTower HQ has not explicitly ruled out ownership and use of firearms by Jehovah's Witnesses, neither has WatchTower HQ given much sympathy to such. Even using firearms for personal protection is highly discouraged. WatchTower HQ has plainly stated that shooting someone in self-defense or defense of one's family makes a Jehovah's Witness potentially liable for bloodguilt. WatchTower HQ has also discouraged the killing of animals except for self-defense and killing for necessary food -- while highlighting the sanctity of animal life.
Interestingly, as posted on Page 2053 of this website, the Boulder, Colorado Foothills Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, located at 5885 Jay Road, in the Orchard Creek neighborhood, has TWICE attempted to exterminate prairie dogs from its large 11 acre tract of land, in 2015 and 2016, using a highly inhumane manner of "hellfire" extermination.
More interestingly, in March 2016, three "devout" Jehovah's Witnesses living in the Homestead, Florida area -- Jeanette Meneses, Mike Mann, and Antoine James -- were featured in an online ESQUIRE magazine article as participants in Florida's annual python hunt held in the Everglades. While this editor is no fan of pythons, and believes that the extermination of non-native species from Florida's everglades is a environmental positive, IF a person publicly professes to be a devout Jehovah's Witness, while boasting of their participating in the construction of Kingdom Halls in the Miami area as members of the WatchTower Society's Regional Building Committee, then that devout JW should not be publicly advocating participating in an activity that runs counter to WatchTower Cult teachings. And, quoting and supposedly obeying Leviticus -- pouring out an animal's blood onto the ground after killing it -- does NOT justify KILLING FOR SPORT!!!
What is most amazing about this ESQUIRE magazine article revelation is the fact that three DEVOUT and ORGANIZATIONALLY PRIVILEGED adult Jehovah's Witnesses could join together to KILL FOR SPORT and NOT a single one of them have a clue as to there being a potential conflict with WatchTower teachings. This senior-citizen Editor would have known better than this when I was 10 years old. WATCHTOWER SOCIETY -- your members have come a long way in the past 50 years, baby!!!!
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