Tribune-Star staff report

The two-day suspension of a Terre Haute Police officer has been overturned by the department's merit board.

On a unanimous vote, the suspension of Lt. Gary Shook will be removed from his record and his two days of lost pay shall be reinstated.

"I'm in the opinion that the suspension is a violation of Lt. Shook's first amendment rights," merit board member Tony Bauer stated.

Bauer included in his motion that the record of the suspension should be removed from Shook's personnel record.

Shook received the suspension after he made a Facebook post supporting Democrat mayoral candidate Mark Bird over incumbent Mayor Duke Bennett.

Merit board member Shelva Warner agreed with the motion by Bauer, and the special meeting concluded about a minute after it started.

Return to for additional details from the meeting.

Terre Haute Police Merit Board overturns Lt. Shook suspension

Post 10:51 a.m.

The Terre Haute Police Department Merit Board has overturned a two-day suspension of Lt. Gary Shook.

Shook received suspension without pay after he made a political posting on Facebook related to the mayor’s race, prior to the election. Last week, in an appeal hearing, freedom of speech came up against departmental policy.

After the appeal hearing, the merit board took the matter under advisement.

Shook and his attorney Joseph Etling, contended that Shook’s constitutional right to free speech was violated in October when, they say, he was ordered to remove the posting from his Facebook page.

In the Oct. 17 posting, Shook asked the public to vote for Democratic candidate Mark Bird, and Shook criticized Republican Mayor Duke Bennett’s leadership and financial actions. Bennett won re-election by 315 votes.

A disciplinary letter sent to Shook on Oct. 23 by Police Chief John Plasse cited violations of the THPD policies on political activity and use of electronic social media.

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