Attorneys expect Chattanooga Police Department officers to get jobs back

Attorneys expect Chattanooga Police Department officers to get jobs back

May 19th, 2013 by Beth Burger in Local Regional News

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


• Sgt. Darrell Turner, who was the on-scene supervisor the night of Adam Tatum's beating, did not report an allegation of excessive force to internal affairs when he watched Officer Sean Emmer kick Tatum while he was in handcuffs.

• Turner was investigated after another officer said Turner often encouraged officers he supervised to use excessive force. The fact-finding investigation revealed there was no evidence and that no action be taken.


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POLL: Should the cops involved in the Salvation Army beating get their jobs back?

With federal prosecutors declining to file charges against two former Chattanooga Police Department officers, defense attorneys are confident that evidence used in the criminal investigation will help both men get their jobs back.

"It can potentially. You've got 16 Hamilton County grand jurors who found no probable cause. You've got a very thorough federal investigation that found no evidence of any crime," said Bryan Hoss. He represents Sean Emmer, one of two officers fired after a federal inmate's beating last summer.

On June 26, Emmer and Officer Adam Cooley will go before an administrative law judge to fight to get their jobs back at the department.

Adam Tatum, 37, was serving a sentence for robbery at a halfway house at the Salvation Army on McCallie Avenue when he caused a disorder, arguing with a fellow inmate and violently kicking the door of a control room shielding employees of the halfway house.

Emmer and Cooley were among more than a dozen officers who responded to the call on June 14, 2012.

Tatum was struck repeatedly with batons and fists, shocked with a stun gun and Maced. He suffered six fractures to his right leg and two to his left leg, including a compound fracture.

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd declined to comment for this story, citing the upcoming job hearings and pending federal lawsuit against the city. In previous interviews, he said this is one of the worst cases of excessive force he has seen in his 25-year career.

"These officers do not need to be on the streets. I personally would not subject the citizens of Chattanooga to these two officers and the type of action they took," Dodd said at a news conference in late February.

Most of the incident was captured on the Salvation Army's video surveillance system.

But Hoss said there is other evidence.

"It's more than just a video in this case," he said. "There's evidence you have not been privy to."

That evidence includes video footage of training at the Chattanooga Police Department, as well as a manual and policies that spell out how officers are supposed to respond to resistance from suspects.

"You look at how they are trained in this videotape and you look at how the officers reacted during this situation. They followed training," Hoss said. "We expect to introduce those training materials at the employment hearing."

He argues this evidence is one of the main reasons federal prosecutors from the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., and Knoxville declined to file charges.

"We think this is a training issue within the Chattanooga Police Department," he said.

Tatum remains in custody. He is serving out a robbery conviction at Silverdale Correctional Facility and served a six-month assault sentence for the Salvation Army incident, where he brandished a knife at another inmate.

His release date is set for May 31, according to a family member who wished to not be named, fearing possible retaliation from local police officers.

Tatum's family is shocked that no charges were filed in his case.

"It's sad that an act that was awful enough for the chief of police to terminate their employment, wasn't bad enough for the feds to pick up where the grand jury left off," the family member said.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at or 423-757-6406 Follow her on Twitter at