White County sheriff Oddie Shoupe has been sued by Michael Dial’s widow. Picture: White County Sheriff’s Office
White County sheriff Oddie Shoupe has been sued by Michael Dial’s widow. Picture: White County Sheriff’s Office

‘I love this sh*t’: Sheriff caught ordering kill

A US sheriff is being sued for using excessive force after he was caught on camera ordering his deputies to kill a man involved in a low-speed car chase.

Law enforcement officers tailed Michael Dial, 33, through Tennessee in April for driving without a licence.

During the chase, which only reached about 80km/h, officers from White County attempted to ram Mr Dial's ute, which was towing a full trailer, off the road.

White County sheriff Oddie Shoupe ordered his officers, via a radio dispatcher, to "take the subject out" and "use deadly force if necessary".

According to a federal lawsuit, Mr Shoupe gave the shoot-to-kill order "solely to prevent damage to patrol cars".

When the car was driven off the highway into a ditch, deputy Adam West followed the order and fired nine shots at Mr Dial. Sparta police officer Charlie Sims also fired about five shots at the driver. At least one of the shots hit Mr Dial in the head. The father-of-one's lifeless body was removed from the car wreck and he was later pronounced dead in hospital. He was not armed.

Deputy Adam West breaks down after shooting Michael Dial.
Deputy Adam West breaks down after shooting Michael Dial.



Body-cam footage of the incident confirms that Mr Shoupe gave the order to use deadly force.

"I said, 'Don't ram him, shoot him.' F**k that s**t. Ain't gonna tear up my cars," he says on the video.

"If they don't think I'll give the damn order to kill that motherf***er, they're full of s**t. Take him out."

Mr Shoupe turned up on the scene after the shooting, and seemed disappointed to have missed the action.

"I love this s**t. God I tell you what, I thrive on it," he said.

The footage shows that Mr West is clearly upset immediately after the incident, but Mr Shoupe consoled him by saying he was following orders.

"I made the decision. You don't have to worry about it. I took that away from y'all," the sheriff said.

"You don't have to worry about nothing. Everything's cool. You done exactly right."

Mr Dial's widow, Robyn Dial, has filed a federal lawsuit against Mr Shoupe, Mr West, Mr Sims and the City of Sparta.

The lawyer acting for Mrs Dial said Mr Shoupe's comments were "very troubling".

"I don't know how you can thrive on taking a human life," David Weissman said in a statement.

"That's not law enforcement. If that's the mentality of the highest policy maker in the county, that's scary.

"Our lawsuit alleges that the force used here was excessive and in clear violation of the constitution.

"We will do everything in our power to seek justice for Mr Dial's wife and child."

Mrs Dial told Tennessee's News Channel 5 that she couldn't believe her husband was gone.

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

"When I wake up every day and he's not there, it's like going through it all over again.

"I feel with every part of me that's exactly what they wanted to do was kill him."

Robyn Dial with her late husband, Michael.
Robyn Dial with her late husband, Michael.

Tennessee district attorney Bryant Dunaway has ruled that the shooting was justified and said in a statement after the incident that Mr Dial was "a dangerous and unstable subject".

Mr Shoupe has declined requests for comment.

The case has come the light the same week that a grand jury has convened to decide whether to charge police officer Mohamed Noor, who shot dead Australian woman Justine Damond in July.