published Friday, October 11th, 2013

Chattanooga asks judge for stay on police officers' rehiring

Chattanooga attorneys have asked a local judge to issue a restraining order to block the city from having to rehire two fired police officers.

Administrative law judge Kim Summers, of Nashville, found in September that former Chattanooga police Officers Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley acted in accordance with their training when they beat federal inmate Adam Tatum more than 44 times with a metal baton, breaking both his legs, during a confrontation at the Salvation Army on McCallie Avenue. She ordered the officers to be reinstated, a decision denounced by Mayor Andy Berke and the City Council. Public outcry after Summers issued her order was swift.

City Attorney Wade Hinton said the administration decided to file its request for a stay of Summers' order until its appeal has been filed. City officials chose to pursue an appeal through local courts because they felt Summers didn't take into consideration dozens of exhibits, witnesses' testimony and other facts in the case.

The city could have appealed Summers' decision through the Administrative Procedures Division in Nashville.

"We felt and took comfort that the entire record could be reviewed by a local judge," Hinton said Thursday.

The request, filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court, asks the judge to review all the proof and to find that Summer's decision:

• Was in violation of the City Charter, codes and statues cited in the petition.

• Was prejudicial to the rights of the officers.

• Undermined the police chief's enforcement of disciplinary actions.

Emmer's attorney Bryan Hoss said all the facts have already been presented and the city was found to be in the wrong.

"This case was fully tried in front of an administrative law judge," he said. "There were dozens and dozens of exhibits and [the city] had as much time as they wanted." If a Circuit Court judge doesn't grant the stay, Hoss said the officers will have to go back to work. However, Wade said the city has several options should that happen. He declined to say what the options are. The officers were fired last November after a disciplinary hearing. Emmer and Cooley responded to a disorder call at the Salvation Army on June 14, 2012. In trying to subdue Tate, the officers beat him, shocked him with a Taser, sprayed him with Mace and punched him in the face a number of times before handcuffing him.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.

about Joy Lukachick...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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