Federal jury rules CPD violated former cop, war veteran's rights - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Federal jury rules CPD violated former cop, war veteran's rights

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – A federal jury awarded $680,000 to a war veteran and former Chattanooga police officer.

In 2009, then-Police Chief Freeman Cooper fired Mickel Hoback after a psychologist said Hoback was "unfit for duty" because he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mickel Hoback signed up for active duty, went to Iraq, and returned to his job as a Chattanooga police officer. 

As do 90% of combat vets who served in Iraq, Hoback returned with post-traumatic stress disorder.  Hoback's attorney, Michael Richardson, says it was controlled by medication.

For three years following his return from Iraq, Hoback did his job and did it well.  A year after he rejoined the police force, he was named Officer of the Year.

In 2009, Hoback says he told his VA psychologist he was experiencing some symptoms and wondered if he needed his medication adjusted. 

His counselor sent him to a VA doctor who had him held overnight for observation.

When Hoback returned to work, Hoback says Chief Cooper requested to review Hoback's medical records.

Citing confidentiality, the VA refused to release Hoback's records, and that's when Hoback says Chief Cooper requested a city-hired psychologist examine him.

At the request of the city's psychologist, Hoback handed over his VA records. Based on those records, the city's psychologist deemed Hoback wasn't fit for duty and Chief Cooper fired him.

Hoback filed two lawsuits, one requesting his job back and the other claiming the city violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities act.

In February of this year, a judge ruled in favor of Hoback in the first lawsuit and ordered Hoback reinstated. The city has since appealed that ruling and the case is still pending.

Thursday, following a three day trial, a federal jury ruled the city violated his rights and awarded Hoback $130,000 for back pay, $300,000 for they he would have earned for a career with the CPD and $250,000 for emotional distress.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals will determine in Hoback should get his job back.

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