Chattanooga City Council supports termination of officers

Chattanooga City Council supports termination of officers

October 2nd, 2013 by Beth Burger in Local - Breaking News

Moses Freeman

City Council members unanimously approved a resolution supporting the termination of two Chattanooga police officers after an administrative law judge recently issued an order reversing the city's action.

Councilman Moses Freeman characterized the ruling as a "travesty of justice."

He said the community is relieved by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke's decision to appeal the judge's decision and police Chief Bobby Dodd's statements that he would fire the officers again if given the chance and that the officers would not the see the street should they return to work.

"I think we are ashamed of [the officers'] behavior in this particular action," Freeman said. "This does not represent our police department. ... We do not hate these men. We just want to see justice prevail."

Dodd, who fired former officers Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley in November 2012, said he appreciates the council's support.

"I'm glad to see they are supporting the mayor, myself and the community," he said.

The officers were responding to a disorder call at the Salvation Army on McCallie Avenue in June 2012 when they tried to take Adam Tatum into custody. He was stunned with a Taser, maced and beaten until he suffered numerous breaks in his legs including one compound fracture.

The city has to wait until Oct. 15 when the initial order becomes a final order. City attorneys then plan to enter an appeal through Hamilton County Chancery or Circuit courts. They will have a 60-day window.

Dodd said the officers won't be returning to work until the process is completed. It's his hope that they won't be returning.

"I'm not sure [Judge Kim Summers] and I were in the same courtroom," Dodd said. "Some of the things she cited in her opinion were absolutely not true."

Members of a community activist group, Concerned Citizens for Justice, attended the council meeting and attempted to make comments after the panel's vote during the designated public comment period.

"This is a huge concern for our city," said Jared Story, a group member, whose comments were cut short by council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem.

Hakeem said the comment period cannot be extended to matters that council members have already voted on.

"If we make an exception tonight, people will be expecting exceptions all nights," he said.

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