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5,660 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<a href="" target="_blank"></a><br><br><br><br><b>Killing of family dog unfolds on videotape</b><br><br><br><br>
Staff Writer<br><br><br><br>
Review finds officers acted<br><br>
properly in stopping car<br><br><br><br>
Three minutes and seven seconds<br><br>
tells the story of a dog named<br><br>
The dog, which was shot at close<br><br>
range Jan. 1 by a Cookeville<br><br>
policeman during a felony traffic<br><br>
stop, belonged to the James Smoak<br><br>
family of Saluda, N.C. At the time,<br><br>
the Tennessee Highway Patrol<br><br>
suspected the Smoaks James, his<br><br>
wife, Pamela, and his stepson,<br><br>
Brandon Hayden were involved<br><br>
in a Nashville-area robbery.<br><br><br><br>
Yesterday, the Tennessee Highway<br><br>
Patrol acknowledged there was no<br><br>
robbery, just a calamitous mix-up in<br><br>
communications between<br><br>
dispatchers working for two<br><br>
separate patrol offices. This failure<br><br>
to communicate led to the shooting<br><br>
of the Smoaks' dog, an incident that<br><br>
was preserved on videotape by a<br><br>
dashboard camera in a patrol car.<br><br><br><br>
Even so, the THP officers did not<br><br>
act inappropriately by making the<br><br>
felony stop, according to an internal<br><br>
''Our investigation has found that our<br><br>
troopers on the scene that night <br><br>
Trooper David Bush, Trooper Jerry<br><br>
Phann and Lt. Jerry Andrews did<br><br>
have probable cause to conduct<br><br>
what in police terms is called a<br><br>
'felony stop' of a motorist,'' said<br><br>
Beth Tucker Womack,<br><br>
spokeswoman for the Department of<br><br>
Safety. The THP is part of the<br><br>
Safety Department.<br><br><br><br>
A felony stop is ordered when the<br><br>
occupants of a car are thought to<br><br>
have been involved in a crime.<br><br><br><br>
Likewise, the Cookeville Police<br><br>
Department's internal investigation determined that its officers, who were providing<br><br>
backup for the troopers, ''performed their duties according to training and policy,''<br><br>
said department spokesman Capt. Nathan Honeycutt.<br><br><br><br>
As for the shooting of the family pet, Officer Eric Hall said the dog was coming at<br><br>
him aggressively when he fired.<br><br><br><br>
The animal ''singled me out from the other officers and charged toward me<br><br>
growling in an aggressive manner,'' Hall wrote in his incident report, which was<br><br>
included in documents released yesterday.<br><br><br><br>
Officers called the dog a pit bull that made a tense scene even more tense. Last<br><br>
week, the Smoak family called the dog a mixed-breed bulldog that was as gentle<br><br>
as ''Scooby Doo.''<br><br><br><br>
Yesterday, the videotape of the stop was released for the public to decide.<br><br><br><br>
The action begins as the Smoaks' car is pulled over in Putnam County. A green<br><br>
sign pointing to the Algood exit is seen in the frame just ahead of the family's<br><br>
stopped station wagon. Tractor-trailers and cars whiz by in the flash of the<br><br>
cruiser's blue lights.<br><br><br><br>
Thirty-eight seconds into the stop, State Trooper David Bush calls the driver out<br><br>
of the car.<br><br><br><br>
One minute and 30 seconds after their car was pulled over, Pamela Smoak and<br><br>
her son, 17-year-old Brandon, are ordered out of the car. They comply.<br><br><br><br>
By 2 minutes, all three of the Smoaks are kneeling on the ground, being<br><br>
handcuffed as the Cookeville officers, in their role as backup protection, train their<br><br>
shotguns on the three.<br><br><br><br>
At 2:18, James Smoak asks: ''What did I do?'' He is suspected in an area<br><br>
robbery, Bush replies.<br><br><br><br>
Seconds later the North Carolina man tells officers that dogs are in the car. A beat<br><br>
later Smoak tells the troopers again that dogs are in the car.<br><br><br><br>
Until 3:05 into the tape, the felony stop is textbook. The suspects are handcuffed<br><br>
and contained.<br><br><br><br>
But then Patton appears.<br><br><br><br>
The light-colored canine bounds from the passenger side door, travels outside the<br><br>
camera's right view for a second and then reappears, following Cookeville Officer<br><br>
Hall, who is backing up with his shotgun trained on the dog.<br><br><br><br>
At 3:07, Hall fires. The dog falls and rolls over, dead. Each of the Smoaks cries<br><br>
out in anguish as their pet lies bleeding just a few feet from where they are<br><br>
handcuffed. ''Why'd you shoot my dog? Why'd you shoot my dog?'' James<br><br>
Smoak can be heard crying repeatedly.<br><br><br><br>
How this unfortunate event came to pass is what the top brass of the Department<br><br>
of Safety and the Cookeville Police Department gathered to explain yesterday<br><br>
afternoon during a news conference.<br><br><br><br>
According to Womack, the incident began when a woman traveling east on I-40<br><br>
called the Nashville THP dispatcher at 4:52 p.m. She reported that she had been<br><br>
passed by a green station wagon traveling at a high rate of speed. The woman said<br><br>
an amount of money had been thrown out the window.<br><br><br><br>
As all involved later found out, Smoak had left his wallet on top of his car when he<br><br>
bought gas on Old Hickory Boulevard in Hermitage. Apparently, the wallet stayed<br><br>
on the car until it passed the Mt. Juliet exit, at which point it fell, scattering more<br><br>
than $400 in small bills over the interstate median. Troopers recovered the cash<br><br>
and returned it to Smoak.<br><br><br><br>
But, at the time the wallet fell off the car, the alert cell phone user was suspicious<br><br>
of the cash and the green car. She called the highway patrol.<br><br><br><br>
Dispatcher Shannon Pickard of the Nashville office told investigators the woman<br><br>
believed the out-of-state car had ''been up to something.'' His statement was<br><br>
provided to reporters yesterday.<br><br><br><br>
According to Womack, Pickard issued a bulletin at 5 p.m. to all Middle<br><br>
Tennessee law enforcement agencies to inquire whether any robberies had<br><br>
occurred involving a green station wagon with out-of-state tags. No replies fitting<br><br>
the description were received.<br><br><br><br>
In Cookeville, THP dispatcher Timothy Glenn McHood issued a BOLO notice,<br><br>
which means ''be on the lookout,'' to the troopers in his area. In an interview with<br><br>
THP investigators, McHood said he noted that the green station wagon ''could<br><br>
possibly'' have been involved in a robbery.<br><br><br><br>
At 5:07 p.m., the THP report noted, Trooper Bush spotted the Smoaks' car.<br><br><br><br>
According to Womack, this incident has led to an examination of the department's<br><br>
radio room procedures, particularly as to documentation. Some of the messages<br><br>
between Nashville and Cookeville cannot be substantiated because the operators<br><br>
communicated using a phone that is not recorded.<br><br><br><br>
Meanwhile, the Cookeville Police Department has instigated a third-party<br><br>
examination of the situation. A police chief in Gaithersburg, Md., will conduct an<br><br>
independent investigation. Officer Hall has been reassigned to an administrative<br><br>
position pending the outcome of that investigation.<br><br><br><br>
The Smoaks, contacted at their home, offered no comment on the tape or on<br><br>
THP's ruling, but said they were in the process of hiring a lawyer to represent<br><br>
them in possible litigation.

0 Posts
I actually saw the video. I don't know what made me watch because usually I turn that stuff off or it upsets me too much. The dog didn't show ANY sign of aggression. It jumped out of the car wagging it's tale showing a perkyness in it's step..not one bit intimidated or threatened. IMO, the dog looked small in size. He was trotting up the officer like it was his buddy and then bam he shot him without hesitation right in the head. I tell you, I'm still upset about it today and can't get the video out of my head. Wish I hadn't saw it. I so hope the system throws the max penalties on that cop...he has no business holding a gun. But we all know that he will probably get a slap on the wrist and a good tongue lashing. My thoughts are with the family in the horrible situation. Oh, how they must hurt <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/bigcry.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":cry:">

5,660 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
There has been a ton of discussion about this in the local newsgroups.<br><br><br><br>
The report I quoted came from what passes for the local newspaper, The Tennessean, which is really a Gannett McPaper, and not a serious newspaper anymore (it once was a serious newspaper back in the 1960s). So the report basically sucks up to the police as much as possible.<br><br><br><br>
I did not see the video, in part because I have a slow internet connection and in part because I don't watch the local news. (I hear the local news channels edited the tape anyway.)<br><br><br><br>
One issue that has arisen in the discussion is this: Should a dog owner subject the dog to some sort of restraint while transporting the dog in a vehicle? Put another way, are there such things as "doggie seat belts" or "doggie carriers" (similar to the carriers that young children are supposed to be strapped into when riding in a car)? Someone said that there are such things, and that California even has laws that pets have to be strapped in when being transported in a vehicle. I have no idea whether this is true or whether there is any basis in fact for this assertion.<br><br><br><br>
Some of the discussion claimed that some members of the Smoak family asked the police to close the vehicle doors to prevent the dog, Preston, from getting out. The police reportedly ignored these requests, thus allowing the incident to occur.<br><br><br><br>
In case it isn't obvious, the government and the police here in Tennessee do things the way they damn well please and not in accordance with my wishes, nor even in accordance with the wishes of a majority of the people who live here. Police brutality and over-reaction are fairly common. In another instance, the police broke down the door of a house and shot and killed several members of a family in the course of allegedly serving a search warrant to search for drugs. One problem: they "served" the warrant on the wrong house. Ooops!<br><br><br><br>
By the way, the officer involved in the dog-shooting had shot several other dogs in the course of his duty over the years.

15,684 Posts
I think I see a newspaper in need of some good journalists to work on it from the inside. Any chance it will still be around when I graduate in December 2004?

6,902 Posts
Police also carry pepper spray, and if this dog was not acting in a way that seemed immediatly life threatening, he could have used that instead.<br><br><br><br>
Good point though on what to do with a dog during a police stop.

5,660 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by Thalia</i><br><br><b>Police also carry pepper spray, and if this dog was not acting in a way that seemed immediatly life threatening, he could have used that instead.<br><br><br><br></b></div>
That's a good point about the pepper spray, and one no one in the local discussion has made. If you go to a bike store and buy "HALT" (supposedly what the Post Office carriers use to deal with dogs), you are buying pepper spray. I have no idea how dogs actually react to being sprayed with this, and I am told that it does not work well in cold weather (although it has been unusually warm here in Tennessee until very recently).<br><br><br><br>
Sadly, the local police and state police said they did nothing wrong according to their procedures, and have not even hinted that they are looking into changing their procedures.

5,660 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by skylark</i><br><br><b>I think I see a newspaper in need of some good journalists to work on it from the inside. Any chance it will still be around when I graduate in December 2004?</b></div>
The Tennessean is supposedly one of the most profitable papers in the Gannett chain, so has every prospect of being there forever.<br><br><br><br>
However, it is a lousy paper from the standpoint of the community it allegedly "serves." I would say this is due to bad management, not bad journalists per se. Although, of course, the management influences the journalists and probably encourages bad journalism.

21 Posts
I've seen the footage.<br><br>
That police officer is nothing more than a typical idiot who became a cop so that he can kill. Not that all cops are dog killers.<br><br>
But he's done this before. I would kill that man if he ever even threatened to do that to my dog.

5,660 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Militant Vegan</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I've seen the footage.<br><br>
That police officer is nothing more than a typical idiot who became a cop so that he can kill. Not that all cops are dog killers.<br><br>
But he's done this before. I would kill that man if he ever even threatened to do that to my dog.</div>
Wow! This is another "Blast from the Past." This happened so long ago that I don't even remember the outcome of the case. I believe the officer who shot the dog may have been fired.

800 Posts
*Hangs head in shame*<br><br><br><br>
The only time I may ever see my hometown on VB, and its because some redneck bubba with a badge kills an innocent animal there. My mom lives about 15 miles from the algood sign mentioned in the video. And she wonders why I hate it there.

692 Posts
I can't believe that someone would do that! What are the results of the case? I would have killed him with my bare hands if an officer killed my dog just because he pretty much felt like it. Yes, I have a bad temper.

5,660 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wow. This thread was dormant for almost two years.<br><br><br><br>
I don't remember exactly what happened as a result of this. I think the officer might have gotten demoted or reprimanded or something like that.<br><br>
I guess I'd have to research it, but I think the case mostly faded away.
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