published Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Chattanooga appeal to overturn order reinstating police officers headed to local court

  • photo
    Officer Adam Cooley, from left, Officer Sean Emmer. Former Chattanooga Police Department
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

One deadline for appeal has passed but Chattanooga officials said they will file their challenge next week seeking to overturn a judge's order reinstating two police officers fired over accusations of excessive force.

Lacie Stone, spokeswoman for Mayor Andy Berke, said Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley remain off the job.

"We have reviewed the ALJ's letter and take comfort in the fact that we can now appeal this matter to a local court," the City Attorney's office said in a statement Wednesday night. "Tomorrow ... we will request a court to issue a stay of the ALJ's order. Additionally we will present the city's case [that] these two officers were not in compliance with the city's policies and procedures on use of force."

On Sept. 24, Administrative Law Judge Kim Summers, of Nashville, ordered that the officers get their jobs back. Summers said in her opinion that Emmer and Cooley acted in accordance with their training when they subdued federal inmate Adam Tatum on June 14, 2012. Both of Tatum's legs were broken in the incident, and a video camera recorded the two officers striking him at least 44 times with a metal baton.

The city has 60 days from the date of Summers' order to file its appeal to either Circuit or Chancery Court, Stone said. Wednesday was the deadline to appeal the decision through the Administrative Procedures Division.

While the city disputes Summers' order, Tatum's attorney Robin Flores said he agrees with her statement that the officers acted in accordance with their training.

"It outlines one of our issues in our civil rights complaint," he said. "There's a gap in policy, a lack of training that has to deal with taking down suspects like these, and for other officers, when they intervene."

Contact staff writer Jeff LaFave at jlafave@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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