By: Kyle James | 02-08-2018 | News
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Why Tennessee Sheriff Shooting of Michael Dial May Not Have Been Justified


Video and audio from a body cam that Tennessee Sheriff's deputies did not know was recording was released earlier this month and the comments made by Sheriff Oddie Shoup that can be heard in the recording have caused an uproar.

The Goldwater reported on these <a href="">body cam recordings</a> Wednesday and in the video Sheriff Oddie Shoup can be heard saying, "I told 'em I said, TAKE HIM OUT! Damn, I don't give a sh**!"

But whether the Sheriff's comments were distasteful or not, they occurred after the shooting took place and are not nearly as relevant as the point I'd like to make regarding Sheriff Oddie Shoup's order to kill Michael Dial who failed to stop for deputies.

To provide some context, here is a brief summary of events leading up to the fatal shooting. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway said the pursuit of Michael Zennie Dial II of Clarksville began in Smithville when police there responded to a report of shoplifting at Wal-Mart.

Police responding to the scene determined Dial had a suspended drivers license and the license plate on his older model pickup did not match the vehicle he was driving. When police attempted to initiate a traffic stop on Dial's vehicle he did not pull over.

Instead of stopping, Dial led police on a pursuit that ironically did not exceed the posted speed limit but DA Dunaway says that Dial did pass vehicles on double yellow lines, ignored stop lights and drove into oncoming traffic.

Until police release all the footage from the pursuit we will have to take the DA's word on Dial's alleged driving infractions.

Keep in mind even a detective pursuing Dial said, "Um… We might have got up to 50… at one point. You know for the most part it was somewhere between 30-40 miles an hour."

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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: NewsChannel 5 | YouTube</span>

Now that you have an idea of what led up to the shooting and how fast the suspect was driving let's get into why Dial was actually shot and killed.

Several marked Sheriff deputies and an unmarked off-duty deputy were pursuing Dial for several miles even traveling into another county at one point.

When deputies report to Sheriff Oddie Shoupe over the radio that the suspect is not stopping and they are attempting to ram him, he orders them to use deadly force.

Sheriff Oddie Shoupe was not on the scene at the time and was attempting to catch up to the pursuit. That is when Sheriff Oddie Shoupe ordered his deputies over the radio to stop Dial using deadly force and essentially authorized his murder from afar.

In <a href="">Tennessee V. Garner,</a> the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an officer cannot use deadly force against a fleeing suspect unless the suspect is a significant threat to the officer or to others. Force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.

My point in bringing this case up is that the sheriff who authorized the shooting was not on scene when he ordered deputies to kill Michael Dial. Since Sheriff Oddie Shoupe was not on the scene he could not reasonably say his life was in danger, nor could he know whether his deputies lives were in danger.

The deputies who were on scene obviously did not feel their lives were in imminent threat of serious bodily injury or harm and did not shoot at Dial until ordered to so.

This seems to be a clear violation of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling and if what this Sheriff did was legal then anyone who doesn't immediately stop for police can be ordered to be killed from afar, even if they were driving like a grandma on the way to church.

The whole point of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Tennessee V. Garner was to say that law enforcement can not kill a fleeing suspect unless they feel they are at risk of serious bodily injury or harm.

If every Sheriff had the power to order their deputies to kill a fleeing suspect while they themselves are in a position of safety and in no danger then we are getting into the morally questionable territory of drone strikes.

It was the exact point of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that killing a fleeing suspect is not authorized unless that law enforcement officer was in direct threat of serious bodily injury or harm and there is a strong argument to be made that the driver was not trying to hurt anyone.

If you are interested in hearing what the Sheriff deputy who shot Dial had to say after the incident and how killing Dial affected him, you can view body cam footage after the incident here:

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