Tennessee sheriff recorded saying “shoot him” before suspect died

The order to shoot was reportedly given as an alternative to ramming the alleged suspect off the road

By Nicole Karlis

Published February 8, 2018 7:45AM (EST)

                        (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-1319155p1.html'>Kozorez Vladislav</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>)
(Kozorez Vladislav via Shutterstock)

A Tennessee sheriff is facing a federal lawsuit for excessive force for allegedly choosing to kill a man over damaging a police car.

According to a report in The Guardian, Sheriff Oddie Shoupe of White County reportedly told officers to shoot Michael Dial during a low-speed car chase instead of ramming him off the road— as ramming him would have damaged the police car.

“They said ‘we’re ramming him,’” the sheriff said on tape, after the suspect was killed. “I said, ‘Don’t ram him, shoot him.’ Fuck that shit. Ain’t gonna tear up my cars.”

The disturbing audio was reportedly caught on tape by a camera worn by another deputy.

“I love this shit,” Shoupe said. “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.”

“Take him out. I’m here on the damn wrong end of the county,” Shoupe also said.

Robyn Dial, the suspect’s widow, filed the lawsuit, which was prompted by the revelation of the comments.

“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.

Dial died from a gunshot wound to the head; he was reportedly unarmed. The chase ensued after police reportedly tried to pull him over for a suspended license. According to the report, police officers attempted to impose a PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver to get Dial to slow down his car, which is when Shoupe reportedly intervened and ordered them to shoot.

In an interview with a local news channel, News Channel 5, Dial's widow said that he probably didn’t slow down because he was likely frightened.

"Why didn't he stop?" she told reporters. "He was scared. I know him enough to know that."

The Washington Post has been tracking fatal police shootings since 2015. According to their data from 2018, 109 Americans have been shot and killed by police. In 2017, there were 987 fatalities.

Nicole Karlis

Nicole Karlis is a senior writer at Salon. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.

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