Body camera video from a 2017 deadly police shooting in Tennessee paints a disturbing picture. The shooting, which took the life of Michael Dial, is now at the center of a federal lawsuit.
Last April, Smithville Police attempted to pull over Dial after they noticed he was driving on a suspended license. Dial, who was driving a 1976 pickup and towing a full trailer, didn’t stop. But he didn’t exactly lead police on a high-speed chase either. He just didn’t stop, and according to News Channel 5, he drove into another county at about 30 or 40 miles per hour.
Soon, the White County Sheriff’s department got involved. Reserve Deputy Adam West began participating in the slow-speed chase while driving his personal truck. Patrol cars can be seen in the footage ramming Dial’s truck in an attempt to stop him.
Sheriff Oddie Shoupe, who was not involved in the chase, gave orders to the radio dispatcher, which authorized his deputies to shoot the suspect.
"Per 59 (the sheriff) use deadly force if necessary,” the radio dispatcher said. “Take the subject out by any means necessary."
Immediately after that order, West can be seen taking out his gun, which he holds while continuing to chase Dial down the highway. After other deputies pushed Dial’s truck off the road, West stopped his truck, opened the door and immediately began shooting. Another officer, Charlie Simms, also started shooting Dial, who was unarmed. He was fatally shot in the head.
More disturbing footage emerged from a body camera that another deputy put in the back of a patrol car. Shoupe did not realize he was being recorded as he tried to console the deputies, who were shaken up over taking a man’s life.
Sheriff Shoupe says in the footage, "You don't have to worry about this. I made the decision. You don't have to worry about it. I took that away from y'all. You don't have to worry about nothing. Everything's cool. You done exactly right. [...] I told em, I said take him out."
A deputy replies, "I heard."
Shoupe then says, "I don't give a sh*t. [...] They said 'we're ramming him.' I said, 'Don't ram him shoot him.' F*ck that sh*t. Ain't gonna tear up my cars. [...] If they don't think I'll give the damn order to kill that motherf*cker they're full of sh*t. (Laughter) Take him out. I'm here on the damn wrong end of the county. [...] I love this sh*t. God I tell you what, I thrive on it."
Dial’s wife has filed a federal lawsuit that claims Sheriff Shoupe "preferred to shoot and kill Mr. Dial rather than risk damaging his patrol cars."
District Attorney Bryant Dunaway has called the shooting justified. For Dial’s wife, it will never be.
"When I wake up every day and he's not there, it's like going through it all over again," Robyn Dial told News Channel 5.
“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,” Robyn Dial’s attorney David Weissman told the Guardian.
The police officers involved have not commented publicly on the shooting.
[Photo: White County Sheriff's Office]