No charges against Chattanooga Police Department officers in Salvation Army beating

No charges against Chattanooga Police Department officers in Salvation Army beating

May 16th, 2013 by Beth Burger in Local Regional News

Officer Adam Cooley, from left, Officer Sean Emmer Chattanooga Police Department

Photo by

VIDEO

This story is featured in today's TimesFreePress newscast.

After nearly a year-long investigation, federal charges will not be filed against two former Chattanooga Police Department officers who were fired after an inmate was beaten, U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said Wednesday.

"After a thorough investigation ... it has been determined there is no prosecutable offense," he said.

The Department of Justice, FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee investigated the incident involving the police officers and inmate Adam Tatum, Killian said.

Killian declined to release more details about the investigation.

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd fired the two officers, Adam Cooley and Sean Emmer, after Tatum, a federal inmate at a halfway house, sustained serious injuries from a beating by officers.

Tatum, 37, was arrested June 14 after workers at the Salvation Army on McCallie Avenue called police when he was kicking the door to an office.

Officers, who initially did not know Tatum was armed, took a knife from him early in the scuffle. They continued to beat him with batons and their fists.

He also was sprayed with Mace and shot a few times with a stun gun. Tatum suffered six fractures to his right leg and two fractures to his left leg, including a compound fracture.

Tatum is serving the remainder of his federal sentence for a robbery conviction and is scheduled for release May 31.

In the fall, a Hamilton County grand jury declined to indict the officers on aggravated assault charges. This latest development could help their cases when they appeal to get their jobs back before an administrative law judge next month. The hearing is set for June 26.

Dodd, who declined to comment for this story, said during a previous interview: "[The officers' action] was excessive. It was abusive. They should have been fired, and in my opinion, they should have been charged. ... That's why I brought in the FBI."

The city also faces a lawsuit filed by attorney Robin Flores on Tatum's behalf.

Flores said the criminal case is not relevant to the civil case.

"We're disappointed, but the feds seem to take cases only if they can win them," he said. "One of the things that hurt the case was Mr. Tatum initially denied having a pocketknife."

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.