published Saturday, June 1st, 2013

New lawsuit filed against City of Chattanooga, ex-officer Sean Emmer

McPeek complaint against Emmer
McPeek complaint against Emmer

Another federal lawsuit has been filed against Chattanooga and one of its former police officers, who already is entangled in two use-of-force lawsuits related to his police work.

A 34-year-old Franklin man filed the lawsuit against the city, former Chattanooga police Officer Sean Emmer and three unnamed police officers on May 24. In court documents, he alleges civil rights violations, saying Emmer punched him twice in the face near a downtown bar last year.

Richard Paul McPeek was arrested on a charge of public intoxication following a June 2, 2012, incident about 3 a.m. outside of Southern Comfort Steakhouse and Nightclub at 511 Broad St. In the lawsuit, McPeek claims he was at the bar with other patrons when Emmer and three other police officers told them to leave.

McPeek said he walked down the street to hail a taxicab and claims Emmer followed him, then punched him.

In Emmer's written report of the incident, he doesn't mention the alleged assault.

"While trying to disperse the disorderly group, several parties were taken into custody. Police advised (McPeek), who was a part of the disorder, to leave the area several times, (McPeek) walked about 50 feet and continued to just stand," Emmer wrote.

The public intoxication charge against McPeek was dismissed in Hamilton County Criminal Court in December.

McPeek's Nashville-based attorney, Jeffrey Roberts, said Friday that he is still in the early stages of his investigation into the lawsuit but "I think it's pretty clear Mr. Emmer has a violent history."

In an internal affairs report McPeek, a 5-foot 11-inch, 245-pound man, admits he wasn't sober at the time.

Emmer told Internal Affairs investigators when he approached McPeek and asked him to leave that McPeek clenched his fist and raised his arm to strike Emmer, which is why he said he punched McPeek twice and took him to the ground.

Other officers on the scene gave the same account of McPeek's actions and the IA investigation was not sustained, according to the report.

Bryan Hoss, Emmer's attorney, said Friday that this is another incident he would defend and that his client was cleared by a department investigation.

Emmer also is named in two separate federal lawsuits in which his use of force is challenged.

Contact staff writer Todd South at or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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