published Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Chattanooga police, attorneys for ex-officers respond to video of inmate beating (with video)

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd speaks at a Thursday news conference at the Police Services Center about allegations of excessive force used by police officers in the June 2012 arrest of Adam Tatum. At right is Deputy Chief Tommy Kennedy.
Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd speaks at a Thursday news conference at the Police Services Center about allegations of excessive force used by police officers in the June 2012 arrest of Adam Tatum. At right is Deputy Chief Tommy Kennedy.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd
Remarks made at a news conference this morning concerning a video that showed police officers beating a man.

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd called the police beating of federal inmate Adam Tatum one of the worst cases he has seen in his 25-year career.

“Unfortunately we’re in a situation, in an occupation that’s very volatile, sometimes,” Dodd said in a news conference this morning. “Sometimes split-second decisions can end your career and actually put you in jail.

“But our department, the city of Chattanooga, Chattanooga Police Department, we do not condone this activity. Nor will it be tolerated.”

  • Surveillance video shows savage beating by Chattanooga police
    Surveillance video from the Salvation Army on McCallie Avenue shows two Chattanooga police officers using excessive force on an inmate. Adam Tatum, 37, suffered six fractures to his right leg and two fractures to his left leg, including a compound fracture, when police took him into custody after a disorder.

A video released Wednesday night by Adam Tatum’s attorney, Robin Flores, shows former Officers Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley ruthlessly beating Tatum.

At the time of the June 14 incident, Tatum was housed in the Salvation Army building on McCallie Avenue when officers were called to respond to a disorder. Tatum was kicking the door of a control room where staff members were inside.

The building’s surveillance cameras show inmate Adrian McGhee tried to talk Tatum down. At the time, Tatum was wielding a knife when staff members called authorities.

For about 10 minutes, officers delivered blows to Tatum, who was repeatedly told to get on the ground and roll over. Tatum fled to another room initially after the knife was taken away from him, but through much of the struggle, Tatum remained on the ground.

Tatum suffered six fractures to his right leg and two fractures to his left leg, including a compound fracture. His attorney has filed a $50 million lawsuit on his behalf.

Both Emmer and Cooley are appealing to get their jobs back.

Dodd says he will appeal to an administrative law judge to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“I’ll lay the facts out and hopefully that person will look at this and say, ‘It’s excessive. It’s outside the policies. And these officers do not need to be on the streets.’ I personally would not subject the citizens of Chattanooga to these two officers and the type of action they took,” Dodd said.

Within a couple of hours of Dodd’s news conference, attorneys representing Emmer and Cooley issued a statement on behalf of the ex-officers.

“Chattanooga officers are trained to never assume that a suspect has only one weapon. This city has seen officers killed in the line of duty after de-escalating force only to learn that the criminal has a second weapon,” according to a statement from attorneys Stevie Phillips and Bryan Hoss.

“Here, Tatum turned on these officers with a knife and attacked. He repeatedly ignored the lawful orders to ‘stop resisting’ and ‘put your hands behind your back.’”

A Hamilton County grand jury declined to indict the officers. However, it’s possible federal charges will be handed down.

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