The fatal shooting of an unarmed Tennessee man is now the focus of a federal lawsuit based on footage in which a sheriff suggests he ordered the killing to avoid damage to police cars. In the aftermath of the April 13, 2017, shooting of Michael Dial—determined to be justified—another deputy's body camera recorded White County Sheriff Oddie Shoupe repeating his instructions to deputies who were chasing Dial's 1976 pickup truck, reports WTVF. "They said, 'We're ramming him.' I said, 'Don't ram him, shoot him' … Ain't gonna tear up my cars," said Shoupe, who was not involved in the chase. "Take him out." In a lawsuit alleging excessive force, Dial's widow says her husband was scared and Shoupe's response was proof of a "malicious and sadistic mindset," per the Guardian.
Officers had pulled over Dial in Smithville and found he had a suspended license, reports Patch.com. Police say he then fled—driving 30mph to 50mph while pulling a trailer—rammed police vehicles, and veered into oncoming traffic before deputies forced his vehicle off the road, per the Herald-Citizen. As it went into a ditch, a reserve deputy and a Sparta police officer together fired at least seven shots; Dial was struck in the head. Upon arriving at the scene, Shoupe noted, "I love this s---. God, I tell you what, I thrive on it." Though he says he was unaware of Shoupe's comments, a district attorney is sticking by his judgment that the shooting was justified. Dial was "dangerous and unstable" and driving "toward the Sparta police officer's vehicle" when the shots were fired, he says, per WTVF. Dial's widow says killing her husband was "exactly what [deputies] wanted to do."