Chattanooga police officer reinstatement request denied - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga police officer reinstatement request denied

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Former Chattanooga Police officer Mickel Hoback, right, leaves court Thursday with one of his attorneys, Michael Richardson in 2011. Photo by Patrick Smith/Times Free Press Former Chattanooga Police officer Mickel Hoback, right, leaves court Thursday with one of his attorneys, Michael Richardson in 2011. Photo by Patrick Smith/Times Free Press

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- The fight for a former Chattanooga police officer to get his job back takes another blow.

Mickel Hoback was fired in 2009 after city officials deemed him "unfit for the job." Thursday, a city council panel upheld its original decision not to reinstate him.

The city says it comes down to two issues: safety and credibility.

Hoback, an Iraqi-war veteran, was diagnosed with PTSD and eventually deemed unfit for duty by a psychologist hired by the city. Hoback's attorneys say his firing not only broke federal law, but a federal judge also agreed. He says there is no valid reason he should not get his job back.

"I move that the prior decision be affirmed," Councilwoman Carol Berz said in Thursday's hearing.

A three-member city council panel voted two to one to uphold its 2009 decision that former Chattanooga police officer Mickel Hoback should not be given his job back, leaving him at a loss for words.

"I'm stunned," he said, after the decision.

Hoback appealed the 2009 decision, which went all the way to a federal court jury.

"You know, we've heard it in chancery court, court of appeals, federal court, federal jury. And it's all been upheld. I figured with a new hearing we'd have a different outcome today," Hoback said.

"The city has a judgement against it for nearly $800,000 and all of that could have been avoided. So I'm terribly and bitterly disappointed for officer Hoback," said Hoback's attorney, Mike Richardson.

Richardson says former police Chief Freeman Cooper used his PTSD against him, which is unconstitutional.

The police department maintains Hoback lied about his condition to enhance is Veterans Affairs benefits, which raises questions of his credibility.

"How can they reinstate an employee to a position when the chief has to have confidence that his officers will not pose a safety risk to the public or other officers on the shift?" asked Phillip Noblett, representing the Chattanooga Police Department in the hearing.

"I thought the proof was overwhelming that he did perform his job at a high level," said Richardson.

Richardson points to the fact Hoback was named officer of the year by Chief Cooper in 2007.

Hoback just wants his job back, at one point, even offering to give back the money federal court ordered the city to give him.

"I went to the city. I offered the city to give them back their $680,000 from the federal court. They turned it down," he said.

"Unfortunately for officer Hoback this case goes on," said Richardson.

Richardson says they feel confident moving forward. They will be filing an appeal Friday in chancery court. It is the same court that ruled in 2009 Hoback should be re-hired with back pay.

In the meantime, the city is fighting the federal ruling to pay Hoback in the Sixth Circuit of Appeals.

Hoback has been working part-time for the Graysville Police Department to make ends meet, emphasizing he is still certified by the State of Tennessee to work in law enforcement.

We will continue to follow this case.

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