Oddie Shoupe is being sued for excessive force after telling deputies to shoot unarmed Michael Dial rather than risk damage to police cars
A Tennessee sheriff is being sued for using excessive force after he was recorded boasting he had told officers to shoot a man rather than risk damaging police cars by ramming him off the road.
“They said ‘we’re ramming him,’” Sheriff Oddie Shoupe of White County said on tape in the aftermath of the killing of suspect Michael Dial. “I said, ‘Don’t ram him, shoot him.’ Fuck that shit. Ain’t gonna tear up my cars.”
Shoupe arrived on the scene shortly after police had shot Dial at the conclusion of a low-speed chase, clearly upset he had missed the excitement.
“I love this shit,” Shoupe said, apparently unaware that his comments were being picked up by another deputy’s body-worn camera. “God, I tell you what, I thrive on it.
“If they don’t think I’ll give the damn order to kill that motherfucker they’re full of shit,” he added, laughing. “Take him out. I’m here on the damn wrong end of the county,” he said.
Shoupe’s comments have prompted a federal lawsuit from Dial’s widow, Robyn Dial, alleging the use of excessive force against her late husband, who was unarmed.
“It was not only inappropriate but also unconscionable for Defendant Shoupe to give the order to use deadly force,” the filing states, calling his decision proof of a “malicious and sadistic mindset”. The suit also names the county, the city of Sparta and the two officers who fired their weapons.
“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 attorney David Weissman told the Guardian.
Police had initially attempted to pull Dial over in April last year for driving on a suspended licence. He drove away, but the fact that he was driving a 40-odd-year-old pickup truck with a fully loaded trailer severely restricted his speed.
DeKalb County deputies, who began the pursuit before White County deputies took over, told investigators it was “more like a funeral procession” than a highway chase, with speeds topping out around 50mph.
Deputies tried using a PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver to slow Dial’s car, a common police tactic involving a police car nudging another vehicle to turn it sideways.
But Shoupe radioed officers to tell them to stop attempting to do that, instead ordering them to shoot the driver.
When a deputy had successfully nudged Dial off the road, Reserve Deputy Adam West, who was in pursuit in his own personal vehicle, fired three shots as the vehicle went down into a ditch. Dial died of a gunshot wound to the head.
In June, the county district attorney declared the shooting justified.
Dial told Tennessee’s News Channel 5 that she believed her husband had tried to drive away from the police because he was scared, and said she could not make sense of the order to shoot. “I feel with every part of me that’s exactly what they wanted to do was kill him.”
The sheriff’s office declined to comment to the Guardian.
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