City councilwoman calls for investigation of Chattanooga police chief, several others in potential rape cover-up

Councilor Demetrus Coonrod speaks during a meeting in the Chattanooga City Council chamber on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

City Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod is calling for further investigations into at least five Chattanooga Police Department officials, including Chief David Roddy, after a recent report by the Times Free Press that found two now-retired, high-ranking officers may have played a role in covering up years of rape allegations against a fellow officer.

After an investigation into rape allegations against former Chattanooga police officer Desmond Logan uncovered a potential link to retired Assistant Chief Edwin McPherson and retired Capt. Pedro Bacon in a potential cover-up, Coonrod called for her colleagues to initiate personnel investigations into at least five other officials who held positions in or related to the police department's Internal Affairs division at the time of the alleged incidents and investigation. Some still hold those positions.

"We need to do a thorough investigation from an outside agency of the whole department, because it seems like we're just piecemealing it," Coonrod said in a council meeting.

Between the meeting and later messages with the Times Free Press, Coonrod said she would like to have at least the following officers investigated: Police chief and former captain of Internal Affairs David Roddy; Capt. Nathan Vaughn; Capt. Zac McCullough; Lt. Anthony Easter; and Assistant Chief and former Lt. Jason Irvin.

Coonrod did not present evidence that the named officers were involved in a cover-up but rather suggested a full investigation into department leaders at the time of the alleged rapes.

When asked what information she was looking to get on the named officers, Coonrod responded "all of it."

Coonrod was advised after the meeting by city attorney Phil Noblett that she would need to introduce a resolution at a future meeting to open any investigation.

While Roddy had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication, police department spokeswoman Elisa Myzal said the department will cooperate with any potential investigations.

"The Chattanooga Police Department is currently cooperating with two agencies that are investigating a former officer's alleged criminal actions. If the councilwoman believes there's a need for a more expansive investigation then she should make that request to the appropriate agency," Myzal wrote in an email late Tuesday. "If that request is believed to be of merit, then [the department] will fully cooperate with that investigation as we have fully cooperated with the ongoing investigations up to this point."

The mayor's office agreed to comply with whatever investigations are opened, but will not intervene further.

"The administration and the Chattanooga Police Department have turned over all relevant information regarding this incident to the FBI," Mayor Andy Berke said in a statement late Tuesday. "It is up to them to determine what course of action they will pursue with that material. We will continue to cooperate fully with the FBI in their investigation."

In the same meeting, Coonrod suggested that the council move to put a referendum on the next election ballot that would give the council the authority to remove certain high-ranking city officials, including the police chief.

Staff writers Rosana Hughes and Zack Peterson contributed to this story.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at or 423-757-6416.