published Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Testimony supports reporting of lawsuit against Cleveland police

Cleveland, Tenn., Police Chief Wes Snyder
Cleveland, Tenn., Police Chief Wes Snyder
Photo by Patrick Smith /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A transcript of court testimony in a lawsuit against the Cleveland Police Department supports the Times Free Press' account of the hearing and rebuts the Cleveland police chief's characterization of the reporting as "grossly inaccurate."

Police Chief Wes Snyder did not respond Tuesday when the Times Free Press emailed him a copy of the transcript, released Tuesday, and asked for comment.

City of Cleveland Policy on Complaints
City of Cleveland Policy on Complaints

Last week, after the original story ran, Snyder said Times Free Press staff writer Todd South's reporting was "totally irresponsible."

Times Free Press Managing Editor Alison Gerber said Tuesday that getting the story right is the newspaper's core value.

"The transcript demonstrates the accuracy of South's reporting," Gerber said.

The employment lawsuit in which the testimony was given was filed by Duff Brumley, a Cleveland police detective who was fired in 2010. Snyder reacted after Assistant Police Chief Gary Hicks testified Nov. 17 in a hearing on Brumley's lawsuit.

As part of his testimony, Hicks said he had reported allegations to Snyder involving, among other things, officers snorting crushed hydrocodone pills and having relationships with underage girls.

South covered the hearing and spent a week investigating the claims, including asking Snyder four times for comment on the testimony. The story was published on Nov. 29 without Snyder's comment.

On Dec. 1, Snyder called a news conference at which he read a statement attacking South's report and accusing him of having a "personal agenda." He said the story's assertions "that I had knowledge of drug and sexual abuse by members of this department prior to my internal affairs investigation" were "completely false."

However, the transcript indicates something different.

Here is the back-and-forth between Assistant Chief Gary Hicks and Gerald Tidwell, Brumley's attorney, during the Nov. 17 hearing:

"Hicks: There was a period of time there that I was receiving information we had some guys doing some stuff they shouldn't do. There was no proof. I went to Chief Snyder and told him what I was hearing and then ... he told me to have a meeting with all the, the four officers and all their supervisors and told me to get their attention.

Tidwell: What were they allegedly doing?

Hicks: I can't remember everything. One of them was -- had allegedly -- was in a pursuit -- the Polk County Sheriff's Department was pursuing one of our officers on a motorcycle, and then he was bragging about that, getting away with it. You had some indications that some were fooling with juveniles and you had another one that was kind of indicating that they were messing with pills, hydrocodone and stuff, snorting them.

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Tidwell: Snorting them?

Hicks: Yeah.

Tidwell: When you say messing with juveniles, are you talking about messing with female, female juveniles on male officers' parts?

Hicks: Yes.

Tidwell: And so Chief Snyder had you instruct these guys not to do it anymore if they were?

Hicks: He told me to get their attention, and I called them all into the training center. And we have something that we say at the Cleveland Police Department on all of our, our discipline, you know: If you continue this behavior your job is in jeopardy. I wrote that on the board and I just kind of -- I never called no names or nothing. I just told them what I was hearing, that we were hearing this and it's very disturbing. And no one said nothing and everybody left."

In December 2009, Hughes shot another officer in the hand at Hughes' home. An investigation revealed that Hughes and Officer Nathan Thomas were using pills without a prescription and having sex with 14- and 16-year-old girls.

Thomas pleaded guilty in June 2010 to drug, forgery and statutory rape charges. He is serving a six-year sentence at the Southeastern Regional Correctional Facility in Pikeville, Tenn.

Hughes pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and statutory rape. He is on probation, records show.

Tidwell said Tuesday he disagrees with Snyder's characterization of the Times Free Press' reporting as inaccurate.

"I think the news stories are accurate, and I think more information is going to come out. The lid's been blown off," he said. "I think what happened up there was, obviously, there was a reason to investigate, but the administration chose to ignore it until the situation literally blew up in their hand."

about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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patriot1 said...

TN Code 37-1-605 clearly states how this type of thing should be handled and reported. The person having knowledge or suspects abuse is occuring shall report the abuse to Department of Child Services who will contact law enforcement....oh wait.........

December 7, 2011 at 9:15 a.m.
jesse said...

snyder needs to take them scrambled eggs off his cap and smear them around on his face!

December 7, 2011 at 10:38 a.m.
jimmiedee said...

Do you think for one minute, if i has sex with a 15 or 16 year ols girls,and snorting drugs.Would i be put on probation do think so. I hope the freepress keeps digging. Chef Snyder needs to be removed from the department, along with his deputy chief for lying. And im sure that a lot of the city they top people knew what was going on. What did they do looked the other way. Im proud of the chattanoog free press and the reporter doing the stories on this. Our local paper cleveland daily banner doesnt have the balls to do so. KEEP WORKING ON THIS CHATT FR PRESS!!!!

December 7, 2011 at 11:08 a.m.
lookinfour said...

“That evidence (pertaining to statutory rape) was obtained as they were dealing with the Sego case. No one here would ever — would ever — sit on obvious crimes that were committed. If those issues had come up ... If there was proof of anything of that nature, our next stop would have been the DA’s office and the TBI,” Snyder said

"No one — no one at the administrative level sat on any valid proof or information of criminal wrongdoing,” the chief said.

Really, Mr. Snyder. Would you like to retract your press conference statement now or would you like to at your termination hearing?

December 7, 2011 at 12:41 p.m.
enufisenuf said...

Holy Cow, a cop that would lie and cover up? No surprise for this area, Kangaroo court Judge Ron Durby has a fat bottem baliff that is a good a liar as Durby is a crack pot judge. North Ga is full of lying cops, one of the biggest being the Walker Co sherrif himself. THe whole area needs to be purged and get rid of the ones who abuse their power behind a tin star and a gun.

December 7, 2011 at 1:41 p.m.
ckelly said...

Now would be a great time to dig back just a few years and find out why officer Noble (yes, related to Chief's wife) wasn't fired for having sex while on duty. His cover ups have gone on too long.

December 7, 2011 at 1:54 p.m.
Lr103 said...

@patriot1 said... TN Code 37-1-605 clearly states how this type of thing should be handled and reported. The person having knowledge or suspects abuse is occuring shall report the abuse to Department of Child Services who will contact law enforcement....oh wait...

Those rules only apply to you, me and the average citizen. They don't apply to LE. Snyder and his department aren't the only ones to cover up for bad officers they have a desire to keep on the force. In fact, I know of no police department that hasn't covered up for bad cops on the force at some time or another. Can personally recall one, in fact, that got a promotion to sargeant. Now he's out there polluting other cops under him, no doubt.

December 7, 2011 at 3:46 p.m.
LatrobeGirl said...

The Cleveland Daily BLUNDER would never have the nerve to report what the Chatt Times reporter did. I'd like to know more about ckelly's comment. Never have heard this. Please explain further. Thanx.

December 7, 2011 at 4:05 p.m.
lookinfour said...

I'm curious. What if I was a parent of one of the children that were raped by these Cleveland Police officers. I find out today that the Chief of Police had information in May 2008 that his officers were raping teenage girls but he chose not to investigate. My daughter continued to be sexually assaulted by the same officers in June, July, August, September, October, and November. The assaults stopped in December because of a shooting and TBI investigation, but not because of the Chief. My question is, can the Chief and City of Cleveland be held civilly responsible for not doing anything. Had the Chief acted like he should have and made efforts to identify the crimes and criminals, those teenage girls would not have been assaulted an extra 6 months after the suspected crimes were known.

December 7, 2011 at 6:05 p.m.
Lr103 said...

Now we know how Sandusky got away with it for so long. From top to botm coverups. These are fine examples of just how unequal and screwed up America's INjustice system really is. Young child as young as 7 are being charged with sex crimes for playing doctor or kicking someone in the crotch. In another case the prosecutor wants the child to have to register as a sex offender when he turns 18 for playing doctor with his sister and a friend. Then you have these grown @$%! cops who can't keep their pants zipped and chasing underaged female victims, and the dept. goes into coverup mode until forced to do something about it.

'BOSTON (CBS) – A 7-year-old boy is being investigated by his South Boston elementary school for possible sexual harassment after kicking another boy in the crotch'.

December 7, 2011 at 6:57 p.m.
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