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.


Grand Jury No Bills And True Bills

Here are the latest no bills and true bills from the Hamilton County Grand Jury: No Bills: HENSLEY, MICHAEL WADE W 41 M 0 1 GS 1648791 POSSESSING A FIREARM WITH INTENT TO GO ARMED HENSLEY, MICHAEL WADE W 41 M 0 2 GS 1648792 TAMPERING WITH OR FABRICATING EVIDENCE HENSLEY, MICHAEL WADE W 41 M 0 3 GS 1648793 CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY WRIGHT, ANASTASIA LOUISE W 21 F 0 1 GS ... (click for more)

Skeletal Remains Found On Wesdell Lane In Cleveland; Dog Brings In Human Skull

Cleveland Police said human skeletal remains were discovered in the 3100 block of Wesdell Lane on Wednesday. At approximately 7:30 a.m., units were called to interview a man who had called advising that his  dog had brought a human skull into his garage.   Crime Identification personnel responded and the originating location of the skull was ... (click for more)

Chris Anderson Has Done Plenty For Alton Park

Three years ago today, I was canvassing in Alton Park. President Obama called for a day of action to help educate people about the Affordable Care Act and Chris Anderson responded by mobilizing his campaign volunteers to spread the word in the places in his district that needed it most.   I moved here a little over three years ago and the entire time I've worked with Chris ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Two Catchers & ‘Shaq’

Kids whose parents are active members in the military were special guests of the New York Yankees when they played the Tampa Bay Rays in an exhibition game last Sunday in Tampa. The Yankees had even arranged for taped videos so some of the kids could watch with the rest of the crowd as their parents told how much they missed them on the Jumbotron. Both the kids and the fans ate ... (click for more)

Lindsey Leads Unbeaten Baylor Past Marion County

There are quite a few new names and faces in the lineup for Baylor’s softball team this spring, but the Lady Red Raiders are the two-time Division II state champs, so it’s more a case of reloading than rebuilding. It’s still early in the season and there’s a lot of key games coming up, but the Lady Raiders are clicking on all cylinders at this point and are now 8-0 following ... (click for more)

UTC Athletics Begins Search For New Men's Basketball Coach

The Chattanooga Mocs begin their search for the 20th head coach in the program’s proud history. The previous 19 combined for 1,281 wins, 16 NCAA Tournament appearances (11 as a DI program), one NCAA DI Sweet 16, 11 Southern Conference Regular Season titles, 11 SoCon Tourney crowns and the 1977 NCAA DII Championship.   Coach Matt McCall departs for UMass after two strong ... (click for more)