A sheriff in Tennessee is being sued after a recording surfaced in which he gleefully ordered his deputies to shoot and kill an unarmed man as he was being slowly pursued on the highway.
After his deputies obeyed the command to kill Michael Dial, White County Sheriff Oddie Shoupe, apparently unaware his words were being captured by another officer’s body camera, said:
They said ‘we’re ramming him.’ I said, ‘Don’t ram him, shoot him.’ Fuck that shit. Ain’t gonna tear up my cars. I love this shit. God, I tell you what, I thrive on it.
Shoupe continued to share his feelings about the matter, growing increasingly tickled by the death he had just ordered. Through laughter, he said, “If they don’t think I’ll give the damn order to kill that motherfucker they’re full of shit. Take him out. I’m here on the damn wrong end of the county.”
Sheriff Shoupe’s comments form the basis of a federal lawsuit filed against him by Michael Dial’s widow, Robyn Dial. That suit, in which excessive force is alleged, also names White County, the City of Sparta, Tennessee and the two deputies who fired at Shoupe’s command.
The lawsuit accuses Shoupe of ordering Dial’s killing with a “malicious and sadistic mindset,” and reads, in part, “It was not only inappropriate but also unconscionable for Defendant Shoupe to give the order to use deadly force.”
The family’s attorney, David Weissman, spoke to The Guardian about the video. He said, “The comments as seen on the video are extremely disturbing. I’m not sure how anybody can thrive on the taking of a life, let alone somebody in law enforcement.”
Dial’s widow, in comments to local News Channel 5, was clear as to why the order was given to kill her husband. She said, “I feel with every part of me that’s exactly what they wanted to do was kill him.”
When Dial was killed last April, deputies from two counties had initially attempted to pull him over for driving with a suspended license. Dial ignored being hailed by law enforcement, however, continuing to drive his 1976 pickup while hauling a fully-loaded trailer.
The slow-speed chase began in DeKalb County. Dekalb County Detective Jimmy Martin described the situation.
“We might have got up to 50 at one point. For the most part it was 30 to 40 miles per hour,” he said.
Once the chase reached White County, DeKalb County deputies ceded jurisdiction.
An investigation by the local district attorney later ruled the shooting justified.
[image via screengrab/News Channel 5; video courtesy News Channel 5]
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