A Chattanooga woman claims in a lawsuit that city police spread rumors she was a snitch after she filed a complaint against an officer, and later arrested her under false pretenses on a charge that was recently dismissed.
Joyce Hardwick filed suit Monday in Hamilton County Circuit Court. She is seeking $500,000 in damages for alleged injuries she sustained when arrested by officers Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley in April 2012.
Hardwick's lawsuit follows one brought against Emmer and Cooley and Chattanooga by Adam Tatum. The pair were fired after video footage showed them beating Tatum, a federal halfway house resident, until they broke his legs June 14, 2012. The officers had been called because Tatum was kicking a door in the halfway house and causing a disturbance.
Also listed in Hardwick's lawsuit are Sgt. Darrell Turner and Officer Kyle Moseley. The correct name is Kyle Moses, according to Chattanooga police spokesman Officer Nathan Hartwig.
Hartwig confirmed Wednesday that Turner and Moses work for the department but could not comment on details related to the lawsuit.
Hardwick, 46, alleges that she filed an internal affairs complaint against Moses in early 2012. Afterward, Turner began "spreading false rumors" in her neighborhood that she was a snitch and a police informant, the complaint alleges.
Hartwig said that Hardwick's initial complaint against Moses was determined to be unfounded.
Mike Raulston, Hardwick's attorney, issued a statement Wednesday regarding that specific allegation:
"Joyce Hardwick is the elected president of the Westside Community Association, and yet, she lives in daily fear of reprisals from the Chattanooga Police Department. Not only has she been brutalized by the likes of Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley and others, she has been the target of a smear campaign intended to incite violence against her," Raulston wrote.
Raulston also has assisted with Tatum's lawsuit.
Tatum's criminal charge from the incident was dismissed. A grand jury declined to indict Emmer or Cooley on charges related to the beating.
Chattanooga city spokesman Richard Beeland said Wednesday that it is city policy not to comment on pending litigation.
The complaint states that on April 9, 2012, Hardwick was told by friends that police were arresting her two sons, Rodney Lomnick and Eric Fossis Jr. She went to the scene, where she claims Emmer and Cooley were "manhandling" the pair.
Lomnick is a documented member of the Athens Park Blood street gang and has at least 13 arrests in his record, according to police and court documents.
Fossis has been arrested at least five times on drug charges in the College Hill Courts public housing complex, where his mother lived and the April 2012 incident took place.
Hardwick claim she tried to call police to complain about how the two officers were treating her sons. She claims the officers knocked her phone from her hand and "smashed her on the hood of a police cruiser," injuring her arm.
The officers arrested her on a charge of disorderly conduct. That charge was dismissed April 4.
She has since had surgery and physical therapy on her arm, according to court documents.
The city has 30 days to file an answer to the lawsuit's allegations or ask for an extension of time.
Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6347.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...