published Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Two Chattanooga officers fired for using excessive force

Officer Adam Cooley, from left, Officer Sean Emmer Chattanooga Police Department
Officer Adam Cooley, from left, Officer Sean Emmer Chattanooga Police Department

Two Chattanooga police officers were fired Wednesday for using excessive force during the June arrest of a federal inmate at the Salvation Army on McCallie Avenue.

Officers Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley were terminated after a disciplinary hearing Wednesday, said Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd. The case remains open, he said, because one of the officers made a new allegation involving another officer during the hearing. Investigators now must look into the accusation, Dodd said.

After the June 14 arrest of Adam Tatum, Emmer and Cooley were placed on special assignment on duties not involving law enforcement.

Tatum was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, five counts of assault and possession of marijuana and was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days for the assault charges. The other charges were dismissed, according to court records.

It was about 1 a.m. June 14 when Emmer and Cooley responded to a disorder call at 800 McCallie Ave. The Salvation Army is contracted to house federal inmates and Tatum was living there.

The disorder began when an employee asked Tatum to submit to urinalysis because of his "erratic behavior," a police report said. Tatum refused, and allegedly blocked an employee from an office. Another person distracted Tatum while the employee entered the office and Tatum then began to kick the door, according to arrest reports.

Police arrived while Tatum was still kicking the door, the report said. He refused to submit to arrest and fought with Emmer, at one point brandishing a knife, the report said. Other officers arrived and Tatum was taken into custody. According to reports, he tried to spit blood on Emmer after the incident.

"During the struggle, several officers were blood exposed," the report states.

Both Tatum and Emmer were taken to Erlanger hospital for treatment of injuries.

Dodd said Emmer and Cooley were fired after investigators watched video footage of the incident.

He said he was notified about the incident a few weeks after the arrest, and that he also contacted the FBI to review the case for possible civil rights violations and criminal charges. Federal authorities are still investigating.

Emmer has worked for the department since 2008 and has had three prior complaints of excessive force. Internal affairs investigations said none of the complaints had merit.

Cooley has worked for the department since 2007 and this year had one prior complaint for excessive force, which an investigation said was unfounded. He had another pending investigation for improper procedure stemming from an incident last month.

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