Settlement Reached Between City And 2 Officers Who Were Fired In Tatum Altercation

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two former city police officers who were fired after an altercation with inmate Adam Tatum and then won reinstatement by an administrative law judge have reached a settlement with the city of Chattanooga on all issues.

Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley will not go back with the Chattanooga Police Department.

The city will give them a "neutral" recommendation toward police employment elsewhere.

In the settlement, the city agrees to pay the $5,000 that each officer owed in an earlier settlement of a federal lawsuit brought by Tatum.

They earlier were given back pay in accordance with a ruling that was favorable to them by Administrative Law Judge Kim Summers.

Also, they are receiving 10 additional months of pay from the city. 

The city is dropping its appeal of the ruling by ALJ Summers before Circuit Court Judge Neil Thomas.

A federal lawsuit filed by former officers Emmor and Cooley against the city will be dismissed. That $500,000 lawsuit was brought against the city, the city police department and then-Police Chief Bobby Dodd.

Under an earlier agreement between the city and defense attorneys Bryan Hoss and Stevie Phillips for Emmer and attorney Jonathon Guthrie for Cooley, net pay due former officer Cooley (minus fire and police pension contributions) was $14,813.88. Net pay due former officer Emmer (minus fire and police pension contributions) was $16,090.31. That was paid earlier.

Their 21-page complaint said defendants had made "damaging public statements" about the officers when they were dismissed, during a criminal investigation that Chief Dodd initiated and during the appeal of the case.

It said the investigation and statements "have prevented these officers from obtaining gainful employment" and that "these public comments have imposed an untrue and unjust stigma upon Officers Emmer and Cooley professionally and personally and have effectively denied them the freedom to take advantage of other employment opportunities."

In a 30-page opinion, ALJ Summers earlier said that "Chattanooga did not show by a preponderance of the evidence that termination of the Grievants was appropriate."  

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

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.

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 hearing 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. . " 

After her ruling, Police Chief Dodd said he would make the same decision again - to fire them. Mayor Andy Berke hit the decision and said it would be appealed.


City Offers Resource For Weather-Related Information Including Road Closures

In 2015, the City of Chattanooga created a source to provide community members with important weather related information, including road closures. Anyone can sign up for updates via the link below or by texting officials directly. The link is  chattanooga.gov/weather or one can text "ALERT" to 97779. (click for more)

Citizen Advisory Group, Consultants To Aid In Selection Of New Cleveland City Manager; New Industrial Park Aims To Produce 5,500 Direct, Indirect Jobs

The Cleveland City Council on Monday adopted a plan for selecting a new city manager that will replace Janice Casteel. A citizen advisory committee for choosing a new city manager has been created with one representative appointed by each councilman. These seven members will communicate with the consultant to the council, Larry Wallace.   The council also voted to ... (click for more)

Rick Smith Should Not Be Paid To Leave

Taxpayers of Hamilton County should take note that a majority of the members of the school board are getting ready to give Rick Smith the buyout that he wants.  Do you agree that someone should be paid for taking the coward's way out?  Rick Smith should be fired for cause. Not paid to leave.   If you don't want the board members to pay him off, call or ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Momma Bears Roar

If I could count Hamilton County’s best educators on one hand, Normal Park Elementary Principal Jill Levine would be the biggest finger. What she and her faculty and a dazzling commitment from both her students and parents have accomplished is an educational dream. I am told people literally move to North Chattanooga just so their children will be zoned for the award-winning school. ... (click for more)

Bradley Edges Cleveland, 88-86, On Copeland Game-Winner In Fourth OT

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Monday turned into a more bang for your bucks night at Jim Smiddy Arena. But, the capacity crowd probably should have expected the bargain. Back on Dec. 8, Bradley Central knocked off bitter rival Cleveland in an overtime thriller. On Monday, the two teams took a walk on the wild side in a colossal four-overtime, 88-86, District 5-3A barn-burner ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Softball Picked To Win SoCon Title

The Chattanooga Mocs have been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2016 Southern Conference softball title by the league's head coaches. Senior second baseman Criket Blanco was named Preseason First-Team All-SoCon and sophomore pitcher Cori Jennings, senior shortstop Alyssa Taylor and senior outfielder Sam Taylor were selected to the Preseason Second-Team All-SoCon. ... (click for more)