Chief Dodd Says Attack On Prisoner By Officers Sean Emmer, Adam Cooley "One Of The Worst I've Ever Seen"

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd testified Wednesday that an attack by former city officers Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley on a prisoner was "one of the worst I've ever seen for the magnitude of it and the force of it."

Chief Dodd said Emmer got a choke hold on inmate Adam Tatum in the June 14, 2012, incident - a tactic he said that "can break his neck." He said Emmer proceeded to deal over 40 blows with a baton to Tatum, breaking his legs.

He said when Cooley came into the room, Emmer hollered twice for him to taze the inmate, and he did on the second call. He said there was "no reason whatsoever" for using a taser.

Chief Dodd said Cooley proceeded to straddle the prisoner and hit him repeatedly in the face, while shouting for him to turn over. He said, "That's torture. The man had no way of turning over."

He also said Cooley elbowed Tatum in the face and neck. He said, "You can kill a person in one shot" with that type blow.

He said the attack was carried out against Tatum, though he continued to plead for his life.

An administrative law judge from Nashville began hearing testimony on Wednesday morning in an effort by Emmer and Cooley to get their jobs back. They were fired by Chief Dodd after a disciplinary hearing on the beating at the Salvation Army halfway house on McCallie Avenue.

Chief Dodd said both officers admitted that their actions were excessive and said it would not happen again.

He said it was the fourth such complaint against both, including one just 12 days before against Emmer.

Chief Dodd said he chose to fire the officers because the attack was "unreasonably excessive. It's something I couldn't subject the citizens of Chattanooga to."

He said he was very aware that a multi-million-dollar lawsuit has been filed by Tatum against the city and the officers involved.

Tatum initially pleaded guilty to assaulting the officers, but that was later taken off his record.

Kim Summers heard opening statements at the City Council meeting room, then Alexis Mercado of the Internal Affairs unit took the stand.

Attorneys Bryan Hoss and Jonathan Guthrie noted that he concluded that the officers followed use of force procedures, including "pain compliance."

However, Capt. Susan Blaine, who oversees Internal Affairs, did bring charges.

Det. Mercado said the initial focus was on officers Emmer and James Smith. He said there was an issue of whether officer Smith kicked the inmate in the head. He said officer Smith denied doing so, saying he was using his leg in the shoulder area to try to control the inmate.

Assistant City Attorney Phil Noblett noted that officer Emmer struck Tatum some 44 times with his baton and that officer Cooley hit Tatum in the face a number of times.

The judge was shown the video of the encounter that was coupled with audio taken from one of the officers' microphones.

Questioned by attorney Stevie Phillips, Det. Mercado said it was felt that Tatum was on so much cocaine that he "felt no pain." He suffered a broken leg and other injuries at the hands of the officers.

He said officer Emmer first said he did not know that Tatum had a knife until one fell to the floor. He said he later said he saw the knife early on.

The detective said Tatum told him he was not armed with a knife. He said Tatum stated that he had spit out blood, but it was not aimed toward the officers.

On the video, the officers continually hollered for him to roll over, but they said he would not comply. 


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