Hearing Officer Rules 2 Fired Police Officers In Adam Tatum Case Get Their Jobs Back; Mayor "Extremely Disappointed" In Ruling

Thursday, September 26, 2013

An administrative law judge, in a 30-page opinion, has ruled that two Chattanooga Police officers who were fired for their part in injuries suffered by inmate Adam Tatum will get their jobs back.

Adam Cooley and Sean Emmer had appealed their terminations.

Mayor Andy Berke said, “I am extremely disappointed by the judge’s opinion today.  Any kind of misconduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the Chattanooga Police Department. We are currently reviewing the opinion and discussing our options with the city attorney.”

A Grand Jury earlier declined to sustain charges against the officers, and federal authorities, following an investigation, declined to charge them.

Officer Cooley was represented at the hearing by attorney Jonathon Guthrie and Officer Emmer was represented by attorneys Bryan Hoss and Stevie Phillips.

Attorney Hoss said, "With the decision, Judge Summers, who heard over 20 hours and three days worth of evidence, emphatically ruled against both the city of Chattanooga and the police chief.  Judge Summers totally rejected their claims, opinions and Chief Dodd's nearly five hours of testimony.

"These officers that night did nothing but patrol the streets of Chattanooga protecting our citizens and respond to a dangerous felon, high on cocaine, who was terrorizing Chattanooga citizens with a knife.  As Judge Summers noted, these officers have "unblemished" records and "promising careers."  It's about time the chief and the city realize that they've mishandled this case from day one and hurt two good police officers in the process." 

He added, "Neither Officer Emmer nor Officer Cooley arrived at the Salvation Army facility with the intent to beat and injure Mr. Tatum but were only using their training and experience to resolve a very difficult and unexpected situation as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, Mr. Tatum chose - while on federal supervised release - to ingest cocaine, arm himself with a knife and assault a Chattanooga citizen. A 911 call to police cried out for emergency intervention to stop Tatum's rage. That is what Officers Emmer and Cooley did; and, today by this decision, the court has affirmed these officers' actions and restored them to their positions as Chattanooga Police officers with full back pay and benefits. The only misconduct in this sorry episode was that of Mr. Tatum and it was of his own making.  That is what the court found and that is what we proved in court."


Hearing Officer Kim Summers said that "Chattanooga did not show by a preponderance of the evidence that termination of the Grievants was appropriate."  

The incident happened June 12, 2012, at a Salvation Army halfway house on McCallie Avenue. Tatum was staying there after his release from federal prison.

He faced charges in connection with the altercation with the officers, but those charges were dismissed.

The incident was caught in a highly-publicized video.

Tatum is suing the city and the officers in City Court.  

Hearing officer Summers did not find fault with a neck hold by Officer Emmer and she said "the number of baton strikes may have been extraordinary,  so was the level of Mr. Tatum's resistance."

She noted that Tatum was initially armed with a knife.

The officer did not agree that the actions of the officers were in violation of the department's use of force policy.

She said the level of the use of force and the extent of the injuries of Tatum "were not ideal," but she said it "would not be an acceptable ending to this situation to ruin the lives and careers of two otherwise unblemished and promising police officers. . " 

Click here to read the judge's order.



Riverbend Arrest Statistics

The Chattanooga Police Department released the statistics regarding arrests during the Riverbend festival.   The biggest challenge during the festival were the high number of underage drinkers, said police.  Offenders were either consuming alcohol prior to entering the festival (their intoxication levels peaking after they entered), or they obtained the alcohol illegally ... (click for more)

Marion County Woman Charged With TennCare Fraud

A Marion County woman is charged with TennCare fraud involving doctor shopping, which involves going from doctor to doctor in a short period of time to obtain prescription drugs, using TennCare as payment. The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of  Melysa McDaniel , 40, of Whitwell. ... (click for more)

Tom Edd Wilson Was A Great Visionary

We want to add to the many heart-felt messages that have been expressed regarding the recent passing of Tom Edd Wilson, a truly great visionary.    While he made his mark on many local organizations, Tom Edd will always hold a special place in the hearts of those who worked closely with him at Erlanger.   We benefited greatly from his steady guidance, leadership ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Leaders Stand ‘Way Back’

Franklin McCallie, a former principal at Howard School and the maverick in one of Chattanooga’s finest families known for education, delivered an impassioned speech before the Hamilton County Commission on Wednesday. Sadly, his remarks came after the commissioners had passed the FY2018 budget that has no financial methodology for the Department of Education, much maligned in the ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Moves Into First Place

Chattanooga FC is building steam, winners of two straight home matches, with two games remaining in the current home stand. Last Saturday, the boys in blue knocked off division leading Inter Nashville FC 2-1 thanks to some late game heroics from a Danny Reynolds free kick.  Tuesday  night, CFC opened the proverbial flood gates and scored 4 goals to beat Birmingham Hammers ... (click for more)

Cleveland High School Selects Joey Knox As Head Wrestling Coach

Cleveland High School has selected Joey Knox as the next head coach for the Blue Raider Wrestling program.  Coach Knox has been with the wrestling program as an assistant since 2013.  During his assistant coaching tenure, the team has secured six Team State Championships, including five individual State Champions and 20 State Medalists.    Cleveland High ... (click for more)