published Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Chattanooga cops, violence and video

Surveillance of Tatum and police
Poll
Are Chattanooga police too heavy-handed?

Nearly a year before Officer Sean Emmer broke Adam Tatum’s legs, the former Chattanooga cop was involved in a beating so severe that it left the victim needing plastic surgery.

Tatum’s attorneys plan to use that incident and many others in their suit against the city, claiming a pattern of civil rights violations at the hands of troubled cops.

“The city cares more about its officers than the public at large,” their suit reads.

But experts say these cases reveal a gray area in policing that leaves a lot of discretion to officers.

Attorneys for Emmer, meanwhile, say new video showing a different view of what happened at the Salvation Army halfway house for federal inmates will show that he acted with appropriate force in dealing with Tatum.

In a show of solidarity, officers who were there that night have told internal affairs that they support Emmer’s actions and didn’t see anything alarming about what happened.

Yet Police Chief Bobby Dodd has ordered two new investigations, one into the handling of the video, who knew what and when; and the other into the conduct of the officer in charge that night and whether he has allowed officers to beat suspects in other cases.

Pick up today’s copy of the Chattanooga Times Free Press to read:

• Writer Joan Garrett’s interview with the victim of a September 2011 beating by Emmer and why experts say such cases are so difficult to navigate;

• And writer Beth Burger’s look at the role of cop culture in the events surrounding the Tatum case.

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