Soddy-Daisy police officers did not receive Taser training until the past couple of weeks, but the officer who stunned a man who later died received previous Taser certification, records show.
Officer Melissa Daniels previously received Taser training through Chattanooga police, Soddy-Daisy Chief of Police Phillip Hamrick said. Because certification is individual to each officer, police remain certified even when they transfer agencies, he said.
However, Red Bank city records show that Officer Daniels — then Melissa Varner — provided paperwork showing she was certified to use a Taser upon her graduation from the Cleveland State Police Academy in 2004, records show.
Officer Daniels was employed with Red Bank from December 2004 through June 5, 2006, said Red Bank City Manager Christopher Dorsey. During that time, Red Bank officers did not possess Tasers, so Officer Daniels did not carry one, he said.
Staff photo by Nathan Gayle
Officer Daniels’ paperwork about her Taser certification has been turned over to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the death of Roger Redden, 52. Mr. Redden died Jan. 22, about two weeks after Officer Daniels used a Taser on him.
Chattanooga officials said Thursday they could not immediately determine whether Officer Daniels received training through the city’s police department.
Officer Daniels could not be reached for comment, and Chief Hamrick said she would not be available for comment because of the pending investigation.
In August, the Soddy-Daisy City Commission approved the purchase of 10 Taser units and training for officers, according to Times Free Press archives. Chief Hamrick and two other supervising officers did not receive their certificates to train Soddy-Daisy officers until December, the chief added.
Eight officers currently carry them, but were not allowed to do so until they received proper training at the end of January and early part of February, Chief Hamrick said.
According to the police report from the incident with Mr. Redden, on Jan. 4, officers were called to 9921 Dayton Pike on a disturbance call and found Mr. Redden without clothes and throwing things around the house. When he would not calm down for police and because there was a continuous struggle, Officer Daniels stunned him on his left leg, left arm and upper chest, according to the report.
The Taser, which has a camera attached to it, recorded the scene, Chief Hamrick said.
“They automatically come on,” he said, referring to the camera. “The tape was turned over (to the sheriff’s office) in the most recent one.”
One of the supervisory officers on the scene during the incident — Sgt. Larry Neighbors — also was involved in a DUI traffic stop of Mayor Gene Shipley’s uncle on Jan. 1.
According to a police report from that incident, Sgt. Neighbors told another officer his job would be in jeopardy if he did not release the mayor’s uncle.
The Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the DUI incident.