UPDATE: Chattanooga Police officers take stand Thursday - WSMV Channel 4

UPDATE: Chattanooga Police officers take stand Thursday

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

We are hearing for the first time from the two fired Chattanooga police officers at the center of a high profile beating case.

Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley were fired last year for using excessive force against inmate Adam Tatum. Now the duo is battling for their badges back. Last month, a federal investigation, revealed there was no "prosecutable offense" against the two men.

The attorneys representing Emmer and Cooley, along with city attorneys, painstakingly went through the video surveillance taken from the Salvation Army halfway house in Thursday's hearing.

Sean Emmer took the stand and when questioned by his attorneys; he says he had 'tunnel vision' and 'auditory exclusion' while beating Tatum with his baton. He says he did not quite remember what was going on. But Emmer also says hitting Tatum on the legs was within department policy and what he was doing what he was trained to do. Despite pleas from Tatum saying his legs were broken, Emmer did not think he was telling the truth. He says, bottom line, Tatum resisted arrest the entire time.

When a city attorney cross examined Emmer, he pointed out the fact there were plenty of opportunities for Tatum to be taken into custody. One of them was after Tatum was tased for a second time.

"You're trained in the academy that when a taser is applied, you should affect the arrest immediately there after, correct?" asked the assistant city attorney.

"That's correct," said Emmer.

"When this tase is applied, you all stand back?"

"That's correct." said Emmer.

"(In the video) Mr. Tatum, he hasn't moved."

"That's correct," said Emmer.

"The policemen are coming in, right?"

"That's correct."

"And nobody's going to affect the arrest?"

"I can't answer for them," said Emmer.

"You're not going to affect the arrest?"

"No I'm not," said Emmer.

"You're not directing anybody, 'Hey, let's go grab this guy?"

"No I didn't," said Emmer.

"You're directing people to go to the door?"

"That's correct," said Emmer.

The city also pointed out contradictory testimony from Emmer, saying in his original report made after the fight, he said he did not know Tatum had a knife on him until after the fact, but that is not what he testified in Thursday's hearing.

The city also says just because Emmer was cleared by the Department of Justice for any criminal wrongdoing, does not mean he still did not violate CPD policy on using excessive force.

Testimony was also heard from Adam Cooley, who responded as back up to Emmer. Wednesday, Chief Dodd said he took issue with Cooley punching Tatum multiple times in the face, but Cooley maintains he was using department tactics.

"You punched him a series of times?" asked Jonathan Guthrie, Cooley's attorney.

"I did," says Cooley. "During that series of punches I attempted an arm bar take down three separate times. three separate times I attempt an armed bar take down. It may look like I'm straddling him, but you can see clearly...you can see clearly that he's starting to roll over."

"Now, there were some allegations that when you punched him, his head was on the floor. Can you see in this video where his head is?" asks Guthrie.

"You can not see where the head and I believe Chief Dodd admitted earlier that you can't see where his head is," said Cooley."

The city and the defense were at odds as to whether he knew if punches to the face were considered deadly force and against CPD policy.

The defense asked, "Did you ever receive training that punches to the face were prohibited by the Chattanooga Police department use of force policy?"

"No not that I recall, and not only were they not banned, but they're also a common practice. I've seen them happen many a time on the streets," Cooley said.

But the city pulled out a test Cooley took at the police academy where he answered every question correctly. He answered yes to a question that asked if a strike to the head could be deadly force. Cooley replied he's also been taught that sometimes you need that type of force, but you have to justify why.

Cooley also argued that he never had the chance to explain the video to Chief Dodd before he was fired.

The hearing is set to continue on July 3rd. Count on Channel 3 for complete coverage.

In Wednesday's hearing, Chief Bobby Dodd is standing by his decision to fire both officers.
PREVIOUS STORY | Chattanooga police officers fight to get jobs back after firing

Channel 3 Eyewitness News Reporter Matt Barbour was at the hearing and tweeting updates throughout the day. Follow him @MattBarbourWRCB

Tweets are in chronological order, with the newest at top.

Hen asked if he's been prescribed antibiotic steroids, Emmer's attorney jumps in. Questioned deemed irrelevant. Never answered.

When asked if Emmer has ever taken steroids, he says he's never taken any illegal substances.

City says just because Emmer was cleared criminally...still doesn't mean he couldn't violate CPD policy.

Asst. city attorney now cross examining Emmer now.

Emmer has been testifying for almost 2 hours. Still being interviewed by the defense. City hasn't cross examined yet.

Emmer says investigation by Dept. of Justice, which found 'no prosecutable offense' on Emmer's part, more thorough than CPD's.


He requested them before his disciplinary hearing and says he was not fully prepared to defend himself.

Emmer says he was never provided documentation from IA and post commission report, which detailed accusations against him.

Defense bringing up point that Emmer was never criminally charged. A grand jury returned a no true bill, not passing case to criminal court.


Emmer contradicting Dodd's testimony from yesterday, saying at no point did he admit to using excessive force.

Defense emphasizing initial disciplinary hearing letter sent Emmer said at most, he'd face suspension without pay, not termination.

Emmer says he never realized his job was in jeopardy. Says he never had been in trouble before.

Emmer testifying he was still employed immediately after fight for next 3 months, still interacting with public.

Emmer says he recounted to the incident to the best of his knowledge and was truthful in follow up report.

Defense says Emmer had 'critical incident amnesia' after the fight, thus affecting his memory on filling out use of force form.

Emmer testifies he was well within policy and used the least amount of force when dealing with Tatum.

Emmer says once outside he 'redirected Tatum's body with his foot' because he thought he was going to spit blood at him.


Emmer says he knew Tatum had to be high on something. Says he'd never had a suspect as resilient as Tatum or as strong.

Emmer says he had 'tunnel vision' and 'auditory exclusion' while beating Tatum with baton several times.

At one point Emmer pulls out cuffs, but only one of Tatum's hands is free. Officers trained not to cuff one hand, cuffs could be weapon.


Emmer says despite Tatum sitting, leaning against wall, he wasn't down or complying to be on his stomach.

Emmer says hitting Tatum in the shin is a 'green zone,' which is within policy. Tatum screams "it's broken."

Emmer says Tatum was actively resisting arrest, kicking and squirming. Starts hitting him with baton.

Emmer says despite Tatum using the phrase "you broke me," he thought Tatum was lying throughout the entire struggle.

Emmer says when his partner tased Tatum, it didn't affect him at all. He got up, ripped out prongs. Says he's never seen that before.

When asked why he and his partner could not control Tatum, he says "he was strong."

When asked if he put a choke hold on Tatum, he says by policy definitions, yes. He felt he was being assaulted with a deadly weapon.

He tells Tatum to put his hands behind his back...but he resisted.As he pulled him back, he saw that he had a knife.

Emmer testifying when he tried to get Tatum to talk to him, he realized he was surrounded by several large men near a weight room.

Emmer now recounting the night he was called to the Salvation Army.

Defense now showing the training video of a day that Emmer was being trained.

Emmer describing the spray that was deployed in the struggle, saying it burned.

Officer Sean Emmer getting ready to testify.

Testimony of Officer Smith over. Bryan Hoss says both of his clients, Emmer and Cooley, expected to talk today.

Smith says at any point if Tatum had rolled over the beating would have stopped and he would have been taken into custody.

Officers' attorneys reiterating the areas they struck Tatum with batons is within dept. policy.

Smith is asked if he can't remember portions of that night. Emmer told investigators he had trouble remembering what happened.

Smith says that isn't his call. Didn't know Emmer was going to kick Tatum while he was sitting in handcuffs.

Noblett hammering Smith with questions on why he didn't step in to separate Tatum and Emmer to prevent him kicking him in handcuffs.

Smith struggles to answer if striking someone repeatedly in the face is ok.

Smith maintains Tatum was still trying to get up and didn't know his legs were broken despite the blood and Tatum saying 'you broke me.'

They're now reviewing the video and going blow by blow, asking Smith what was happening. After Tatum pleads for his life. Smith then pulls out his baton to join Emmer in hitting Tatum.

City Noblett asks Smith if his testimony is at all being affected by him being named in the federal suit filed by Tatum. He says no.

Smith says '412 call' was sent out repeatedly. When Adam Cooley walked in the door he instructed him to tase Tatum.

Smith is now reviewing the 'use of force' report he filled out after the fight with Tatum. He testifies Tatum did attempt to spit.

He says Emmer did try to cuff Tatum at one point but he pulled his arm away, which he says is active resistance.

Smith says he never realized Tatum's legs were broken until he said something. Admits to hitting him with baton 6-8 times.

Smith says his personal safety was threatened the whole time, between dealing with Tatum and other inmates.


Smith says they gave multiple orders to Tatum to get on his stomach but he didn't comply.

Smith says Tatum was actively resisting and then he sprayed him with pepper spray. Says that didn't work either.

Tatum was tased, he was able to pull out a prong. Smith says he's never seen that happen before. Says it didn't affect him.

Smith says he's around 6'2 250 lbs, Emmer 300 lbs. Says they had trouble controlling Tatum because 'he was high on something.'

Smith says Emmer threw the knife away. When asked if it was a 'potentially deadly situation' at that point, he says 'no.'

Smith says as Emmer started to grab Tatum and spin him around he saw a knife in his hand as he took him to the ground. The knife fell out.

Smith says Tatum started mouthing off and told them to take him to jail. Says his behavior was aggressive.

Smith saw Tatum had another man by the collar. Says Emmer tried to talk with Tatum. Says Tatum was 'sizing them up.'

Smith says they then heard beating on a door. He then realized it was 'serious situation.'

Smith says there was initial confusion on what the call was for. They were looking for Wilson, the scared halfway house worker.

James 'Chip' Smith will be recalling the night of the call. He had been with CPD for 4 years, 15 years in law enforcement overall.

Officer Jim Smith now taking the stand. He initially responded to the halfway house with Sean Emmer.

Wilson says screws were popping out of the door. She was scared.

Attorneys playing 911 tape. You can hear Tatum trying to kick in door to office.

Ms. Wilson monitors the inmates at the Salvation Army in Chattanooga. She says she was scared.

Audrey Wilson, who works at Salvation Army, now testifying. She called 911 on the night of June 14th. Says Tatum was acting violent.

But Williams says it's not necessary if the suspect's legs are broken and bleeding. Williams testimony now concluded.

Emmer's attorney trying to justify use of baton...says it's permissible to strike shin area after hitting muscle per CPD policy.

Williams says he took no issue with confrontation up until Tatum was dragged by his legs. At that point "it was no longer a fight."

Williams says Cooley never used deadly force, contradictory to what Chief Dodd testified yesterday.

Cooley's attorney says he was responding to a potentially dangerous call. Walked into pepper spray in the air, tough to breathe and see.

Williams now addressing his assessment of Cooley's specific actions. Only had five sentences addressing it.

Attorneys for officers arguing Tatum was still a threat even after in handcuffs. Williams says even if he tried to get up, legs were broken

Williams reiterates in the struggle, Emmer had a superior position over Tatum. Attorneys trying to argue using baton was well knocking him over. Emmer says he 'pushed him with his foot.'

Williams says there were opportunities to cuff Tatum early on in the struggle, but that didn't happen.

Williams testifying some people don't feel the effects of pepper spray, being tased. That happened in this case, but Tatum was high on drugs.

Attorney for officers saying Tatum displayed 'active resistance' when he ran from officers. Williams says initial use of taser ok.

Williams testified the Tatum beating is the worst fight he's seen in his career.

Former CPD Deputy Chief Mike Williams being questioned by officers' attorney now. He reviewed this case as well.

Hearing continues today for CPD officers Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley, fighting to get their jobs back.


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