Some Erlanger officers fired from previous jobs

Some Erlanger officers fired from previous jobs

December 19th, 2009 by Jacqueline Koch in News

The Erlanger officer who used a Taser on a patient who later died is not the only security employee at the hospital previously fired from another law enforcement department.

Officer Shane Webb is being investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in connection with the death of Edward Buckner, 53, who died Nov. 27 shortly after being stunned with a Taser upon release from Erlanger hospital.

A Hamilton County medical examiner's autopsy showed that Mr. Buckner died of natural causes, specifically a blood clot in his lungs that originated in one of his legs.

Officer Webb came under fire after information surfaced about his termination from the Chattanooga Police Department in 2005 for using a Taser on a handcuffed suspect.

But he's not the only officer on the Erlanger force who's been previously employed by other departments -- or had a troubled history.

In 2003, then-Hamilton County sheriff's deputy and current Erlanger Officer Rodney Patton was terminated for a host of issues, including how he dealt with the public. According to his sheriff's office personnel file, he was fired for repeatedly asking questions after discussions had ended, making unnecessary complaints about his supervisor, producing gossip about other employees, his general conduct toward the public, a biased attitude and untruthfulness to his supervisors.

Erlanger hospital has not yet made public its policy for hiring security officers, but officials have said they will provide that information after clearing it through a corporate attorney.

Erlanger board members did not return messages seeking comment.

All Erlanger officers did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Patton also was suspended for 13 days -- 10 of those without pay -- for insubordination related to questioning his supervisor about an overtime policy and cursing at his supervisor in 2002. After his suspension, he was ordered to take an anger management class.

Mr. Patton was reprimanded for treating a burglary and fraud victim like a suspect, jeopardizing the integrity of the sheriff's office, according to his personnel file.

His actions "damaged the professional image of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office as well as subjected the sheriff and other members of his office to potential civil litigation," according to an internal affairs report.

He had, however, earned several exemplary marks as a property crimes investigator and fugitive detective on his evaluations, though some supervisors remarked he needed improvement in following supervisors' instructions.

"His defiance of authority, blatant disobedience to policy and obvious untruthfulness raises the issue as to his ability to meet the expectations of our organization," according to a document signed by his supervisor.

Erlanger also employs former Chattanooga officer Leightaylor Noorbergen, who resigned from the Chattanooga Police Department in 2006 after she was suspended for 28 days without pay and ordered to anger counseling for allegedly arresting a woman without cause and filing a false report.

Not all Erlanger security officers have such histories with other departments. Current Erlanger Officer Larry Bush retired from the sheriff's office in May 2003, having worked there since 1980. One of his evaluations noted he was an excellent employee.

Security Officer Ralph Anderson Keown formerly worked for the East Ridge Police Department and retired on a positive note, East Ridge spokesman Officer Erik Hopkins said.

Story so far

Edward Buckner died Nov. 27, shortly after he was stunned with a Taser by an Erlanger security officer. Hamilton County Medical Examiner Dr. Frank King ruled the death natural, caused by a blood clot in the lungs. Chattanooga police said that, at the time of his death, Mr. Buckner, who was a patient at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute, was being treated at Erlanger for dehydration developed from diabetes. He was being released from the hospital when he started fighting with hospital police, officials said. Officer Shane Webb used a Taser on him before Mr. Buckner was taken back to Moccasin Bend and found unresponsive. He was then returned to Erlanger and pronounced dead.