Previous complaints shed light on Emmer's, Cooley's pasts - WSMV Channel 4

Previous complaints shed light on Emmer's, Cooley's pasts

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The reaction is passionate one day after an administrative law judge ordered two Chattanooga Police officers accused of using excessive force to be reinstated.

It began on June 14,2012, when a confrontation arose between officers Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley and halfway house inmate Adam Tatum. Tatum suffered two broken legs in the scuffle, as well as several injuries to the head. On November 7th, officers Emmer and Cooley were fired following an internal affairs investigation. Two weeks later, they appealed the firing. On December 6, 2012, a Hamilton County grand jury declined to charge the officers. Two months later, Channel 3 obtained the surveillance video of the altercation, which sparked a public outcry. A hearing for the officers began in late June and this week an administrative law judge ordered the reinstatement of the two officers.

As the news broke Thursday of the judge's decision, Mayor Andy Berke quickly fired back with his disappointment. In the appeal hearing this summer for officers Cooley and Emmer, their attorneys maintained their clients have a clean history. Both officers had complaints filed against them before but were cleared through internal investigations.

Channel 3 is taking a closer look at two other cases where officer Sean Emmer was accused of using excessive force.   

"Any type of misconduct is not tolerated by this city. And we're going to review all of our options," said Mayor Andy Berke.

Mayor Berke has already said the city is considering an appeal to judge Kim Summer's opinion that Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley should return to the Chattanooga Police force.

"I'm upset. The chief is upset," said Berke.

On top of the $50 million suit filed by Adam Tatum, both Emmer and Cooley are facing other federal civil lawsuits, where they are accused of using intimidation or physical means to control the plaintiff they encountered.

After the Adam Tatum beating case surfaced, Channel 3 obtained copies of other internal affairs investigations.

In April 2011, Zachary Davis filed a complaint against Emmer for excessive force, after a confrontation outside a Chattanooga karaoke bar.

"The cops came running up to us and they were like, 'Where are you going?' And when they came running up, I put my fingers out and like, touched one of the cops on his chest," said Davis.

Davis says he was trying to break up a fight and that is when Emmer took him to the ground.     

"I believe that he had my right hand already cuffed. I was giving him, moving the left hand towards the cuff. And then he yelled, 'Quit resisting' and he punched me in the face," said Davis.

Davis went to the hospital, with a swollen, bruised face.

"Once he hit me, I was pretty angry about that, so I yelled back to him, 'Does that make you feel like a man?'" said Davis in the IA interview.

In Emmer's interview, he says Davis fought back and tried to "break his arm."

"The whole time I'm yelling, 'Stop resisting! Stop resisting!' When I realized he was going to break my arm, I knew I had to do something. I had to act pretty quick. That's why I struck him one time with a closed right fist," said Emmer in the internal investigations interview.

Emmer was eventually cleared.

In June of 2012, just days before the Tatum beating, Richard McPeek also filed a complaint against Emmer. He says he was trying to catch a cab outside a bar, when Emmer approached him and told him to keep walking. McPeek says when he tried to explain himself, Emmer punched him.

"I woke up, I came to, in the cop car with blood all over me just sitting there swallowing my own blood," said McPeek.

McPeek had to get stitches in his tongue. In Emmer's IA interview, he also claimed McPeek was trying to attack him..

"If I would have just put him in handcuffs right off the bat, maybe this wouldn't have happened. There wouldn't have been a struggle to get him handcuffed, maybe he wouldn't have bit his tongue, maybe I could have avoided a complaint," said Emmer.

Emmer was also cleared in McPeek's complaint.

Adam Tatum's attorney is citing the two cases as evidence in his civil lawsuit. He says it is clear Emmer and Cooley have a violent history and should not be allowed to return to the force.

Thursday, Emmer and Cooley's attorneys said, in the Tatum beating case, they were just doing their jobs.

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