Skip to comments.Court denies appeal in dog case (Cops killed dog while family held at gunpoint)
Posted on 09/03/2009 8:48:52 PM PDT by Chet 99
Court denies appeal in dog case
Mary Jo Denton Herald-Citizen Staff
Thursday, Sep 03, 2009
COOKEVILLE -- The shooting of a pet dog by a police officer at a traffic stop here six years ago is still being argued over in lawsuits. Just today, Thursday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals released a ruling denying an appeal by Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper David Bush, who was one of several officers present at the stop that day and who was found guilty of excessive force in restraining James Smoak of North Carolina, the owner of the dog.
Police officers here had been mistakenly notified that Smoak was a robbery suspect, and they stopped the Smoak car on Interstate 40 in Cookeville on the evening of Jan. 1, 2003. Smoak, his wife, and their son were ordered out of their car, handcuffed, and held at gunpoint, and when their pet dog hopped out of the car, Cookeville Police Officer Eric Hall shot and killed the dog. James Smoak, already handcuffed and kneeling on the pavement as he had been ordered to do, rose up after the dog was shot, and Bush and others moved to force him back to the ground.
Smoak later sued, saying the officers had used excessive force and caused injuries to his knees. A federal court jury in 2008 awarded the family $9,000 in compensatory damages and $192,000 in attorney's fees, and the Smoaks settled with the City of Cookeville for $77,500 in a separate lawsuit. After the Smoaks settled with the City of Cookeville, their lawsuit against the THP officers remained. The troopers argued in court that they were entitled to "qualified immunity" for their actions that day, and though a Tennessee district court denied them that status, they appealed, and a higher court granted it.
But the higher court also found that Bush and Trooper Lt. Jerry Andrews did use excessive force against the handcuffed man that day. Since then, the case has been slowly making its way through the appeals court system, and a jury concluded that Andrews did not use excessive force that day, but that Bush did. Bush appealed that decision, and the latest ruling is a denial of that appeal. Noting that a jury has already ruled that Bush used excessive force that day and that essentially, no new evidence to the contrary has been presented, the 6th Circuit ruling says this:
"Bush is asking us to do what the law flatly forbids -- to substitute our opinion for that of the jury based on a re-weighing and reinterpreting of the evidence. This we will not do."
Cops love shooting their little bang-bangs at dogs.
What kind of dog was it? This guy shouldn’t have a job anymore.
This was one of the first cop stories I remember seeing on here. [Probably there were plenty of others but I was paying attention to other types of stories.] I am so glad this family has not led these morons off easy.
I can’t believe it’s been six years since this happened. I’m getting old.
I know, me too.
This case and video ticked me off so bad when I first read about it and saw the video I thought about it all day.
This is the original cop shoots dog case isn’t it?
Found this from an old article “The tape then shows the Smoaks’ medium-size brown dog romping on the shoulder of the Interstate, its tail wagging. “ Patton, was playful and gentle — “like Scooby-Doo””
link to original story:
COOKEVILLE, Tennessee (CNN) — Police video released Wednesday showed a North Carolina family kneeling and handcuffed, who shrieked as officers killed their dog — which appeared to be playfully wagging its tail — with a shotgun during a traffic stop.
The Smoak family was pulled over the evening of January 1 on Interstate 40 in eastern Tennessee by officers who mistakenly suspected them of a carjacking. An investigation showed James Smoak had simply left his wallet on the roof of his car at a gas station, and motorists who saw his money fly off the car as he drove away called police.
The family was driving through eastern Tennessee on their way home from a New Year’s trip to Nashville. They told CNN they are in the process of retaining a lawyer and considering legal action against the Cookeville, Tennessee, Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol for what happened to them and their dog.
In the video, released by the THP, officers are heard ordering the family, one by one, to get out of their car with their hands up. James Smoak and his wife, Pamela, and 17-year-old son Brandon are ordered onto their knees and handcuffed.
“What did I do?” James Smoak asks the officers.
“Sir, inside information is that you was involved in some type of robbery in Davidson County,” the unidentified officer says.
Smoak and his wife protest incredulously, telling the officers that they are from South Carolina and that their mother and father-in-law are traveling in another car alongside them.
The Smoaks told CNN that as they knelt, handcuffed, they pleaded with officers to close the doors of their car so their two dogs would not escape, but the officers did not heed them.
Pamela Smoak is seen on the tape looking up at an officer, telling him slowly, “That dog is not mean. He won’t hurt you.”
Her husband says, “I got a dog in the car. I don’t want him to jump out.”
The tape then shows the Smoak’s medium-size brown dog romping on the shoulder of the Interstate, its tail wagging. As the family yells, the dog, named Patton, first heads away from the road, then quickly circles back toward the family.
An officer in a blue uniform aims his shotgun at the dog and fires at its head, killing it immediately.
For several moments, all that is audible are shrieks as the family reacts to the shooting. James Smoak even stands up, but officers pull him back down.
“Y’all shot my dog! Y’all shot my dog!” James Smoak cries. “Oh my God! God Almighty!”
“You shot my dog!” screams his wife, distraught and still handcuffed. “Why’d you kill our dog?”
“Jesus, tell me, why did y’all shoot my dog?” James Smoak says.
The officers bring him to the patrol car, and the family calms down, but still they ask the officers for an explanation. One of them says Patton was “going after” the officer.
“No he wasn’t, man,” James Smoak says. “Y’all didn’t have to kill the dog like that.”
(Excerpt) Read more at cnn.com ...
Something seems just a little outta whack here?
Who really got justice in this case: the victims or their greedy lawyers?!
First rule by any cop: Shoot the family dog first regardless if they’re at the wrong place or stop the wrong people.
good God and these assholes wonder why they are looked at as they are by the public...
Think, fools. The guy WARNED you he had a dog, and said he wanted it to STAY IN THE CAR.
This is not someone who is trying to use his dog against the cops.
NO cheers, unfortunately.
I remember this, but not the breed. the dog came out of the car but was NOT acting in a threatening manner. It just jumped out and started running around like dogs do.
The rest of the story is that “someone” called the police after they saw “money flying out of a vehicle”. This of course translates into a bank robbery even though no banks were reported as being robbed that day. It was a cluster foxtrot from the get go and the police handled it like Nazi storm troopers.
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