After a Tennessee man was shot and killed by police following a chase, a county sheriff was heard on body camera video implying that he chose to authorize deadly force to avoid damaging patrol cars during the process of ramming the driver off the road, according to News Channel 5 Network.
The sheriff also made comments indicating excitement and satisfaction over the outcome of the situation, which has led to a lawsuit from the deceased man’s wife.
In April 2017, Smithville Police tried to pull Michael Dial over for driving with a suspended license.
Dial did not stop, and continued driving his 1976 pickup truck that was towing a trailer at speeds ranging from 30 to 50 mph.
The chase moved from Dekalb County to White County, and that’s when White County officers took over.
White County officers tried to force Dial off the road using their vehicle, but Sheriff Oddie Shoupe, not yet on the scene, gave the orders to “use deadly force” and “take out the subject by any means necessary.”
Once the officers successfully pushed Dial’s truck off the road a few minutes later, Deputy Adam West and Officer Charlie Simms got out and immediately opened fire on the truck, shooting Dial, who was unarmed, in the head.
Here's bodycam video of the shooting:
West was visibly emotional and appeared to be in tears after the incident, while Shoupe assured him he had done the right thing.
Shoupe was heard later in the bodycam video saying to someone on the phone that West "took it hard. He talks that big s**t, now he's in the big leagues. If he can't take it, he needs to get out."
The sheriff’s controversial reaction
Here are some quotes from Sheriff Shoupe as he was leaving the scene, apparently unaware a bodycam was still recording in the back seat of his vehicle.
“They said ‘We’re ramming him.’ I said, ‘Don’t ram him, shoot him.’ F*** that s**t. Ain’t gonna tear up my cars.”
“If they don’t think I’ll give the damn order to kill that motherf***er they’re full of s**t. Take him out. I’m here on the damn wrong end of the county.”
“I love this s**t. God I tell you what, I thrive on it.”
Here is the full audio:
A widow mourns, and sues
Dial’s widow, Robyn, said fear caused her husband to keep driving when police tried to pull him over, but she didn’t say what he may have been scared of.
“Why didn’t he stop? He was scared. I know him enough to know that,” she said.
The District Attorney ruled that the shooting was justified, but admitted he had not heard the body camera comments at the time of that ruling.
Now, Robyn Dial is suing White County for excessive force, claiming the sheriff “preferred to shoot and kill Mr. Dial rather than risk damaging his patrol cars.”
“I don’t know how you can thrive on taking a human life,” Dial’s attorney, David Weissman, said. “That’s not law enforcement. If that’s the mentality of the highest policymaker in the county, that’s scary.”
The sheriff defends himself
“I hate that this happened,” Shoupe said to SpartaLive. “But we are not going to tolerate people coming into this county and running over our citizens and our officers, and we will deal with them severely.”