published Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Fired Chattanooga police officers fight to get jobs back

  • photo
    Officer Adam Cooley, from left, Officer Sean Emmer. Former Chattanooga Police Department
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Twitter feed from Beth Burger

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 2m

The FBI and @TheJusticeDept were contacted about the case, Dodd said. Charges weren't filed against the officers after investigations.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 7m

Both Emmer and Cooley had three prior complaints. Dodd said. He didn't specify if the complaints were sustained.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 8m

"That's the nature of the beast," said Dodd referring to the "Monday morning quarterback" nature of IAs.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 11m

Officers also are required to take refresher courses for use of force through in-service training each year.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 12m

Policies, including use of force, are taught to cadets and they are tested. Cooley graduated in 2007. Emmer in 2008.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 15m

About 15 to 20 officers involved in the call to the @SalArmyChattown call on June 14 last year.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 16m

Tatum's case started as a fact finding. @bhdodd591 had received letters from an attorney asking to preserve evidence in Tatum's beating.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 17m

Fact findings are done when there are no complaints filed alleging misconduct. They are done to determine if there are potential violations.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 19m

@bhdodd591 just took the stand. Dodd said he adopted the current use of force policy for the department when asked by Noblett.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 45m

Blaine said she was "caught off guard" when officers Cooley and Emmer were let go from the department.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 46m

Blaine felt like both officers might receive suspensions after the incident. However, she conceded, "That video was pretty bad."

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 48m

Emmer lost his temper and kicked Tatum who was sitting in handcuffs. "The situation was over at that time," Blaine said.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 49m

"I don't think their intent was to violate the policy or injure Tatum," Blaine said of both Emmer and Cooley.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 50m

Blaine had hoped Cooley would keep his job but get extensive remedial training for use of force, she said. "That's not my call," she said.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 51m

Cooley arrived to the 412 call (officer involved in a fight) after most of the baton strikes.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 53m

"I don't feel that he was malicious. ... I feel that he wanted to get him into custody and wanted to do it quick," Blaine said about Cooley.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 55m

Blaine says in Tatum's case, he was not compliant the entire time. However, he wasn't physically resisting officers with force, she noted.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 56m

Blaine points out in the older case, physical force was being used against the officer.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 57m

Jonathan Guthrie, an attorney representing Cooley, is questioning Blaine. He is citing an older IA case where punching was used.

Alan Murray ‏@alansmurray 1h

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Blaine said she ruled not sustained on Smith's actions. Kicking motion was to loosen Tatum's shoulder, she said.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 1h

Blaine said Emmer and Cooley violated use of force. She noted that in her report to dept. administration.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 1h

Tatum was about 175 lbs. "Officer Emmer is a lot larger than that," Blaine said. Officers should have been able to control Tatum, she said.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 1h

Blaine said the camera footage doesn't prove Tatum was about to spit blood as Emmer later argued.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 1h

Blaine said the punches would be in policy if Tatum had posed a physical threat to officers. In this case, she said it was a violation.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 1h

Verbal orders being given to Tatum. Cooley uses Taser. Not a violation, Blaine said. Doesn't work. Then Cooley punches Tatum 10-15 times.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 1h

Portion of the beating was off camera. More baton strikes could be heard. Not counted. No way to tell where they landed, Blaine said.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 1h

Ret. Capt. Blaine, who is now being questioned by the city, said there were conflicting reports about whether Emmer knew about a knife.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 2h

Metal batons were used. Broke both legs. Had to have numerous staples in six places. He also sustained a compound fracture, Noblett said.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 2h

Officers blackened both of Tatum's eyes and broke his nose. He tried to get away.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 2h

In previous interviews, dept. heads have told me they believe Tatum was using passive resistance.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 2h

Defense is examining passive resistance vs. active resistance. Passive is refusing to comply with orders. Active is physically resisting.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 2h

The dept ruled Cooley's punches to Tatum were excessive. Mercado didn't make a determination. "I did my best to compile the facts," he said.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 2h

Officers are allowed to punch people, but only in certain circumstances, Mercado said.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 2h

Cooley never received notice that he was the subject of an IA investigation.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 2h

Mercado's 44-page report ends with: "The officers followed the Use of Force Continuum as best as possible," the defense states.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

@erlangerhealth records show Tatum was high on cocaine. Marijuana was found in his shoe when he was taken to the hospital.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

Tatum told Mercado he tried to stand and spit some blood out of his mouth, the defense points out.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

Tatum lied numerous times during the investigation and admitted to resisting officers, said Mercado when questioned by the defense.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

Defense points out Tatum lied during IA investigation when asked about a knife.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

The internal affairs report is introduced as an exhibit.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

Supplemental IA ordered after Cooley alleged Officer Smith kicked Tatum in the head, Mercado said. The allegation was not sustained.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

Officers told Mercado they used the use of force continuum the best they could.

Derrall Stalvey ‏@Derrall 3h

Follow @MattBarbourWRCB and @abburger from @TimesFreePress partner, covering appeal hearing for CPD oofficers fired after beating incident.

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Use of force forms introduced as evidence for both Emmer and Cooley.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

Tatum was punched in the face "several" times in a use of force report filled out by Cooley. A total of 11 punches were counted.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

This is an important detail because it can change the use of force level officers are allowed to use.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

Emmer told IA he did not see the knife before the beating. He told then Det. Wenger he saw the knife first.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

Mercado said Emmer delivered about 39 baton strikes. Ret. Capt. Blaine said there were 44.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

Video stopped at 25 minutes and 15 seconds.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

A few people left City Council chambers when footage of the beating played.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

Video is being shown beginning at 19 minutes and 14 seconds.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

@TRADEMARKMEN I think they did it to hear what was being said at the time of the beating.

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Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

The department had to match the officers' audio with the video when they reviewed case.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 3h

Evidence in the hearing will include video from the @SalArmyChattown, a 911 call recording and audio from CPD officers' microphones.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

"Please don't kill me," repeated by Tatum during the beating, Mercado said. Tatum also asked why they were beating him.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

"The officer said I tried to spit blood on him, but that's not true," Tatum told Mercado.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Tatum sent a letter complaining of his treatment in Sept. to the dept. IA investigation began in late June when @bhdodd591 ordered it.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Mercado said he doesn't make recommendations in cases he investigates. He also said he doesn't investigate cases for criminal violations.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

CPD Internal Affairs Investigator Alexis Mercado is taking the stand. He investigated the case for use of force violations for the dept.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

@CCJStreetTeam members are here at hearing to protest Emmer and Cooley getting their jobs back.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Cooley says he will punch Tatum if he doesn't comply. Tatum is punched numerous times.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Defense for Adam Cooley making opening statements. Said Cooley tried to use arm bar takedown.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

@TRADEMARKMEN These are opening statements. We'll see what evidence they show today and tomorrow.

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Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Defense also points out that former officers were never charged by the state or the Department of Justice.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Expert witness for defense will be retired CPD officer Skip Vaughn. Defense says Emmer acted according to policy.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Defense said Emmer used foot to "redirect" Tatum who was already sitting in handcuffs. Emmer claimed Tatum was trying to stand up and spit.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Defense said there were over 90 verbal commands by CPD officers to Tatum to roll over and put his hands behind his back.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Tatum was exhibiting "super human strength and endurance" during the attack, defense said.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Defense said Tatum was kicking door to control room so hard that the screws were flying out of the door. Staff called police.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Defense for ex officer Sean Emmer is presenting opening statement. Described inmate Adam Tatum as violent and high on cocaine at the time.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Noblett said the use of force policy mandates officers to use the "minimum force necessary" to subdue suspects.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Noblett also argued that Emmer used an unauthorized choke hold.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

The dept ruled Smith didn't use excessive force.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

The other officer, James Smith, who initially responded with Emmer struck Tatum 7 times during the same time period.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 4h

Phil Noblett, attorney for @Chattanooga_gov said Emmer struck Tatum 44 times in 7 min. Tatum was struck in his back and legs with a baton.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 5h

Inmate Adam Tatum was severely beaten and sustained a compound fracture to one of his legs. He initially was armed with a knife.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 5h

Ex-officers Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley were terminated after they responded to a disorder @SalArmyChattown where fed inmates are housed.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 5h

After a decision is made, either party can appeal through Chancery Court.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 5h

Summers will have 15 days to issue an initial order. Process could take longer if attorneys file findings of fact - up to 60 days.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 5h

Summers is with Administrative Procedures Division with the state department. The hearing is slated to last today and tomorrow.

Beth Burger ‏@abburger 5h

Kim Summers is the admin law judge for 2 ex Chattanooga PD officers who are appealing their firing after an inmate was severely beaten.

Two former Chattanooga Police Department officers are making their case today to get their jobs back.

Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley are appealing their termination by Police Chief Bobby Dodd last November.

Kim Summers, of Nashville, is the administrative law judge who will hear the officers’ appeal in the Chattanooga City Council chambers. She is with the administrative procedures division of the Tennessee Secretary of State.

Two days have been set aside for hearing testimony.

The officers were fired after Dodd reviewed their involvement in an incident on June 14, 2012, in which Emmer and Cooley responded to a call at the Salvation Army halfway house on McCallie Avenue. Video from the Salvation Army shows federal inmate Adam Tatum harassing a fellow resident before police arrive.

The officers tried to arrest Tatum, who resisted. The officers first used a stun gun, then struck Tatum to subdue him. Officers retrieved a knife from Tatum, who was on cocaine at the time.

Tatum, 37, suffered six fractures to his right leg and two fractures to his left leg.

Emmer’s attorney, Bryan Hoss, has said the video doesn’t show the entire scene of what officers were dealing with at the site. He has said the officers faced a “very real threat.”

A Hamilton County grand jury declined to indict Emmer and Cooley on criminal charges. A six-month federal investigation also yielded no charges.

Dodd called the actions excessive.

Previously, Hoss said he and his co-counsel, Stevie Phillips, will call experts at today’s hearing who will testify that the officers followed training guidelines and deserve their jobs back.

At the end of the hearing, Summers has 15 days to give her initial order, and up to 60 days for a final decision.

Attorneys for either side who want to appeal her decision would do so through Hamilton County Chancery Court.

Follow this story throughout the day at Timesfreepress.com.

  • Surveillance video shows savage beating by Chattanooga police
    Surveillance video from the Salvation Army on McCallie Avenue shows two Chattanooga police officers using excessive force on an inmate. Adam Tatum, 37, suffered six fractures to his right leg and two fractures to his left leg, including a compound fracture, when police took him into custody after a disorder.
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Should the cops involved in the Salvation Army beating get their jobs back?

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