When cops kill a suspect, we hope they are deeply affected by the incident. That’s probably true of most fatal police shootings, and whether taking down a suspect is warranted or not is not the point. Somebody shot and somebody else died.
For White County, Tennessee sheriff Oddie Shoupe, however, it appears killing suspects is practically sport. His remarks were caught on tape via a body camera after ordering police to shoot during a motor vehicle chase.
Officers were attempting a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver, in which the pursuing vehicle can make the car they are chasing quickly turn sideways, causing the driver to lose control. Shoupe told the officers he didn’t want them ramming the suspect’s vehicle to stop him, because doing so “would ram up my [police] cars.”
Instead, he told them to take out the driver by any means necessary. The suspect was leading cops on a low-speed chase that never exceeded 50 mph. He was driving a 1976 truck while towing a loaded trailer at the time of the fatal shooting in April, 2017.
Widow Sues Sheriff’s Department
The victim, Michael Dial, was killed by Deputy Adam West and officer Charlie Simms. He succumbed to a gunshot wound in the head. Shoupe soon arrived at the scene of the shooting, and the body cam picked up him saying, “I love this s---. God, I tell you what, I thrive on it.” Shoupe then laughs.
Dial’s widow, Robyn, has filed a federal lawsuit alleging use of excessive force in her husband’s killing.
Officers had originally tried to pull Michael Dial over after a report of a Walmart shoplifting incident. His license was suspended and the plates on his truck did not match the vehicle, but he was not armed at the time of his death. During the chase, he allegedly went through stop signs and over double yellow lines when passing vehicles. He drove into oncoming traffic at one point.
His wife’s wrongful death lawsuit names Shoupe, the two deputies, the county and the city of Sparta, TN. The lawsuit states, “It was not only inappropriate but also unconscionable for Defendant Shoupe to give the order to use deadly force,” and adds Shoupe’s mindset was “malicious and sadistic.”
Robyn Dial told a local TV news station that she believes her husband drove away out of fear. She also said the order to shoot made no sense. A toxicology report revealed Michael Dial had methamphetamine, marijuana and amphetamines in his bloodstream at the time of his death.
Shooting Declared Justified
In June, 2017, the White County district attorney’s investigation into the shooting concluded police officers were justified in killing Dial.
According to the investigation, Dial “was a dangerous and unstable subject who posed a serious and immediate risk of serious bodily injury or death to both law enforcement officers as well as other citizens in the immediate area.”
That was the conclusion even after a DeKalb County deputy, who started the chase before Dial’s truck crossed the boundary into White County, told investigators the pursuit was more like “a funeral procession,” because the vehicles involved were moving so slowly.
After announcing he was closing the file on the Dial case, the White County DA asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to also close their file.
Psychopaths Have No Place in Law Enforcement
Perhaps a comment on the Herald-Press, the local newspaper’s website, says it best,
“At the very least, are these law officers so poor with firearms that they cannot take out the VEHICLE without taking out the driver? With all that gun practice they get, anyone would doubt it. This already strongly suggests use of excessive force and even murderous intent, before the recordings of Sheriff Shoupe gleefully ordering the driver's killing. Such psychopaths have no place in law enforcement.”
In White County TN, it appears alleged shoplifting and driving while suspended deserves the death penalty, meted out immediately. If you’re ever driving in that region of Tennessee, it’s probably best to avoid White County – a place where the sheriff orders his officers to shoot unarmed people and gets a kick out of it.
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