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.



Walker County Arrest Report For Jan. 9-15

Here is the Walker County arrest report for Jan. 9-15: KEETON        MICHAEL      PHILIP           WM     30        Officer VANDYKE   POSS OF METH, POSS OF MARAJUANA LESS THAN 1 OZ, GIVING FALSE INFORMATION ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ARRIS, DANIEL LYNN  42 CARRIAGE HILL SIGNAL MTN, 37377  Age at Arrest: 44 years old Arresting Agency: TVA POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE --- BARTRUM, COLTON PRINCETON  1521 THRASHER PIKE HIXSON, 37343  Age at Arrest: 25 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County AGGRAVATED ... (click for more)

The Tax Assessor's Sneak Attack On Dual Taxpayers

State law requires a reappraisal of properties every four years. The Tax Assessor's Office has always been responsible for that task. A state law was passed several years ago that allows the cost to shift to individual towns and cities that lie within Hamilton County. Just because the tax assessor can legally abuse dual city/county taxpaying property owners doesn't mean he should. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Sleep, Kelly’s On Watch

As the most intense week begins in President-elect Donald’s Trump’s ascent to become the most powerful man in the world, it is now strikingly obvious he has surrounded himself with the greatest collection of leaders to ever fill a Presidential cabinet. Each is a proven winner, be it in business, the military, or national affairs. Last week a confirmation hearing were heard for ... (click for more)

Lady Hawks' Massengill Verbally Commits To Lady Vols

Hamilton Heights’ Lady Hawks defeated Providence Day, out of Charlotte, North Carolina, 62-38 behind a 30-point effort by Amber Hunt in the Music City Classic at Whites Creek High School and a few hours after junior Jazmine Massengill announced she had made a verbal commitment to the Tennessee Lady Vols. The same teams met in the day’s final contest and the Hawks rolled to ... (click for more)

MLK King Of The Court Tips On Monday At UTC

The inaugural Waffle House MLK King of the Court event presented by CABC will be held on Monday. This event features 10 teams in five games. The event will be held at Maclellan Gym on the campus of UTC.  It was created to help grow the excitement and exposure of basketball in the greater Chattanooga area while celebrating a great American hero, said officials. This ... (click for more)