Before i get jumped, i would like to say that i am a Dog lover and i think this is a tragic situation. you guys need to remember that hind sight is 20/20. As a member of law enforcement i feel a need to speak my mind. At the time all officers at the scene were performing a text book felony stop...maybe the dog was or wasnt being aggressive...that all depends...i have seen dogs that look friendly, bite and ones that look mean, lick. Now that ALL the facts are known...its easy for the media and family to bash the officers. I know this...i wasnt making the felony stop that night on the Highway...and neither were any of you so dont be so quick to judge.
Its a tradgedy what happend to this family pet..just that, a tragic accident...
Everyone deserves their 02 cents worth...................I will just kindly disagree..............The cop could have used mace or waited....Common sense tells those cops that they had the wrong group pulled over, an experienced group would have realized that pretty quick........This cop panicked.....thats my 02 cents
I've got to disagree about this being a "text book" stop. Did you watch the video? The officers did not make sure the dogs were secure. So at that point, I cant see that this is a "text book' stop. The officers were asked to close the doors of the car, now since you are in law enforcement, I'm asking you, because I dont know, is there a good reason the officers couldn't have made sure the doors of the car got closed?
Killing of family dog unfolds on videotape
By LEON ALLIGOOD
Review finds officers acted properly in stopping car
Three minutes and seven seconds tells the story of a dog named Patton.
The dog, which was shot at close range Jan. 1 by a Cookeville policeman during a felony traffic stop, belonged to the James Smoak family of Saluda, N.C. At the time, the Tennessee Highway Patrol suspected the Smoaks — James, his wife, Pamela, and his stepson, Brandon Hayden — were involved in a Nashville-area robbery.
Yesterday, the Tennessee Highway Patrol acknowledged there was no robbery, just a calamitous mix-up in communications between dispatchers working for two separate patrol offices. This failure to communicate led to the shooting of the Smoaks' dog, an incident that was preserved on videotape by a dashboard camera in a patrol car.
Even so, the THP officers did not act inappropriately by making the felony stop, according to an internal investigation.
''Our investigation has found that our troopers on the scene that night — Trooper David Bush, Trooper Jerry Phann and Lt. Jerry Andrews — did have probable cause to conduct what in police terms is called a 'felony stop' of a motorist,'' said Beth Tucker Womack, spokeswoman for the Department of Safety. The THP is part of the Safety Department.
A felony stop is ordered when the occupants of a car are thought to have been involved in a crime.
Likewise, the Cookeville Police Department's internal investigation determined that its officers, who were providing backup for the troopers, ''performed their duties according to training and policy,'' said department spokesman Capt. Nathan Honeycutt.
As for the shooting of the family pet, Officer Eric Hall said the dog was coming at him aggressively when he fired.
The animal ''singled me out from the other officers and charged toward me growling in an aggressive manner,'' Hall wrote in his incident report, which was included in documents released yesterday.
Officers called the dog a pit bull that made a tense scene even more tense. Last week, the Smoak family called the dog a mixed-breed bulldog that was as gentle as ''Scooby Doo.''
Yesterday, the videotape of the stop was released for the public to decide.
The action begins as the Smoaks' car is pulled over in Putnam County. A green sign pointing to the Algood exit is seen in the frame just ahead of the family's stopped station wagon. Tractor-trailers and cars whiz by in the flash of the cruiser's blue lights.
Thirty-eight seconds into the stop, State Trooper David Bush calls the driver out of the car.
One minute and 30 seconds after their car was pulled over, Pamela Smoak and her son, 17-year-old Brandon, are ordered out of the car. They comply.
By 2 minutes, all three of the Smoaks are kneeling on the ground, being handcuffed as the Cookeville officers, in their role as backup protection, train their shotguns on the three.
At 2:18, James Smoak asks: ''What did I do?'' He is suspected in an area robbery, Bush replies.
Seconds later the North Carolina man tells officers that dogs are in the car. A beat later Smoak tells the troopers again that dogs are in the car.
Until 3:05 into the tape, the felony stop is textbook. The suspects are handcuffed and contained.
But then Patton appears.
The light-colored canine bounds from the passenger side door, travels outside the camera's right view for a second and then reappears, following Cookeville Officer Hall, who is backing up with his shotgun trained on the dog.
At 3:07, Hall fires. The dog falls and rolls over, dead. Each of the Smoaks cries out in anguish as their pet lies bleeding just a few feet from where they are handcuffed. ''Why'd you shoot my dog? Why'd you shoot my dog?'' James Smoak can be heard crying repeatedly.
How this unfortunate event came to pass is what the top brass of the Department of Safety and the Cookeville Police Department gathered to explain yesterday afternoon during a news conference.
According to Womack, the incident began when a woman traveling east on I-40 called the Nashville THP dispatcher at 4:52 p.m. She reported that she had been passed by a green station wagon traveling at a high rate of speed. The woman said an amount of money had been thrown out the window.
As all involved later found out, Smoak had left his wallet on top of his car when he bought gas on Old Hickory Boulevard in Hermitage. Apparently, the wallet stayed on the car until it passed the Mt. Juliet exit, at which point it fell, scattering more than $400 in small bills over the interstate median. Troopers recovered the cash and returned it to Smoak.
But, at the time the wallet fell off the car, the alert cell phone user was suspicious of the cash and the green car. She called the highway patrol.
Dispatcher Shannon Pickard of the Nashville office told investigators the woman believed the out-of-state car had ''been up to something.'' His statement was provided to reporters yesterday.
According to Womack, Pickard issued a bulletin at 5 p.m. to all Middle Tennessee law enforcement agencies to inquire whether any robberies had occurred involving a green station wagon with out-of-state tags. No replies fitting the description were received.
In Cookeville, THP dispatcher Timothy Glenn McHood issued a BOLO notice, which means ''be on the lookout,'' to the troopers in his area. In an interview with THP investigators, McHood said he noted that the green station wagon ''could possibly'' have been involved in a robbery.
At 5:07 p.m., the THP report noted, Trooper Bush spotted the Smoaks' car.
According to Womack, this incident has led to an examination of the department's radio room procedures, particularly as to documentation. Some of the messages between Nashville and Cookeville cannot be substantiated because the operators communicated using a phone that is not recorded.
Meanwhile, the Cookeville Police Department has instigated a third-party examination of the situation. A police chief in Gaithersburg, Md., will conduct an independent investigation. Officer Hall has been reassigned to an administrative position pending the outcome of that investigation.
The Smoaks, contacted at their home, offered no comment on the tape or on THP's ruling, but said they were in the process of hiring a lawyer to represent them in possible litigation.
Someone needs to be held accountable., Ive never sued anybody in my life however if that happened to my family I would seriously think about it.
first off, they had an innocent family on there knees and in cuffs on the side of the road. then the trigger happy cop shoots a dog? the car driver told them there were dogs in the car. the cops are responsible for the dogs in the car now. the dog killing could have been avoided and should have been. they should pay.
if that happened to me, how would they get me out of the handcuffs?
Its a Lame attempt at putting a Pro Police spin on this one................Incidents like this just re-enforce the Negative hillbilly cop image that was made so popular with all the Burt Reynolds Movies and the Dukes Of Hazard in the late 70's..................some of those kids shouldnt of had shotguns in their hands that eve.........More I see the more inflamed I get....................Thats Ok The Smoaks will have ALOT of Tennessee taxpayers money soon...................
As far as i know....all people are innocent until convicted in a court. I agree with you Polarbear...suspected criminals should NEVER in any case be handcuffed. Gimme a break.
That family will and should get compensation for their loss. I still say you cant say if the cop was right or wrong unless you were there that night...and even thats subject to your point of view. Video only tells part of the story.
Sounds like some of you think Rodney King should have been offered tickets to the policemans ball and sent on his way.
in all fairness and keeping this on a mature level, i did not read the first link provided for this. i read what aimrite posted.
nowhere in that did it say that the family were felons, or had records. so somehow 4 officers with guns out and even shotguns had to cuff these poor people. i can see needing to cuff them if they have records. it is not mentioned though.
in the description that i read, i would say the cops, not just one but all of them were wrong for not making sure the dogs were secure. 2 seconds and there would have been no problem. all they had to do was make sure the dogs couldnt get out. very simple...
But the Doggie got a leadbath instead...........too bad for that family..lets just hope it doesnt happen to someone else, .....................I would imagine Officer Hall may be done carrying a shotgun for the Cookeville Police
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