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Former police chaplain Donovan Stewart announces retirement from the Lexington Police Department

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Posted at 4:45 PM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 12:19:08-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Officer Donovan Stewart has announced he will retire after 22 years of service with the Lexington Police Department. Stewart will retire with a full pension.

"I would lie if I would not say it's been hard the last number of months and I have a lot of pain and hurt inside of my heart, a lot of disappointment, but I'm choosing not to focus on those things," Stewart said in a Thursday morning news conference. "I don't understand why certain things are happening now, but I can see God in it. I can see God in every step of the way."

On Monday, the Lexington Police Department announced Stewart, who previously served as the Lexington Police Chaplain would be reassigned to the Bureau of Patrol. The chaplain position has been formally dissolved.

This comes months after a lawsuit was filed in federal court against the Lexington Police Department following an incident involving Stewart and a teen with autism.

The suit was filed in connection with a February 2019 incident in which officers were dispatched to the Fayette Mall in connection to a complaint that two teens were being disorderly. Cell phone footage appears to show Chaplain Donovan Stewart punching one of those teens after he was restrained.

The suit claims that Stewart "flew into a rage" and assaulted the teen, identified only as A.B.T. in the documents. Lack of proper training, the suit alleges, violates the federally protected civil rights of persons with autism. Community activists demanded an investigation into the incident.

For weeks, demonstrators in Lexington have been marching in the streets demanding the police department fire Stewart, amid demanding an end to systemic racism in the United States.

Police have not made a connection between the incident involving Stewart and the teenager and the dissolving of the chaplain position.