Felony stop leaves family traumatized


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Preacherman
January 4, 2003, 02:53 AM
Just to show how really difficult it can be to assess an incident, especially when viewed from two different sides... The first article below describes the situation from the family's point of view. The second, below that, describes it from the viewpoint of the police. Judge for yourselves...

From the Herald Citizen of Cookeville, Tennessee (http://www.herald-citizen.com/NF/omf.wnm/herald/news_story.html?[rkey=0024251+[cr=gdn):

'Felony stop' leaves family traumatized

Mary Jo Denton
Herald-Citizen Staff

Published January 02, 2003 11:54 AM CST

It was the most traumatic experience the Smoak family of North Carolina has ever had, and it happened yesterday afternoon as they traveled through Cookeville on their way home from a vacation in Nashville.

Before their ordeal was over, three members of the family had been yanked out of their car and handcuffed on the side of Interstate 40 in downtown Cookeville, and their beloved dog, Patton, had been shot to death by a police officer as they watched.

What was their crime?

There was no crime.

But a passerby with a cell phone apparently assumed a crime had occurred when a wallet flew from a car on Interstate 40 near Nashville.

That citizen called police and inadvertently set in motion what would make it the most horrible vacation the James Smoak family of Saluda, North Carolina, has ever had.

Today, the Smoak children and their parents were still weeping over what happened to them in Cookeville.

By today, they had also filed complaints with two police agencies, prompting internal investigations, they had met with Tennessee Highway Patrol Capt. Randy Hoover, and they were on their way to talk to Cookeville Mayor Charles Womack.

Because official internal investigations are underway at the Tennessee Highway Patrol and at the Cookeville Police Dept., the Herald-Citizen was unable to get details of those two agencies' accounts of the incident.

But the Smoak family willingly told their story to anyone who would listen; they hope by doing so that something might be done to prevent it from happening to another family.

James Smoak, 38, who was traveling in the family station wagon with his wife, Pamela, their 17-year-old son, Brandon, and the family's two pet bulldogs, Patton and Cassie, had lost his wallet after stopping for gas as they left Davidson County on Wednesday afternoon.

But he didn't know he lost it. Apparently, he had placed it on top of the car while pumping gas, and it flew off somewhere on the highway a short time later.

Not knowing his wallet was lost, he and his family traveled on, heading east on their way home to North Carolina.

A few cars behind James and Pamela's station wagon, his parents and the two younger Smoak children were traveling in the elder Smoak's car.

Just a few miles east of Cookeville, James Smoak began to notice that a THP squad car was following him, though the officer was not pulling him over, just staying behind him, changing lanes any time Smoak did, moving in and out of traffic each time Smoak did.

"It was obvious he was looking at me, not at other vehicles, and I'm thinking I must have done something (in my driving), but I don't know what," Smoak said today.

When Smoak reached the 287 exit area in Cookeville, three other police cars suddenly appeared, and the trooper then turned on blue lights and pulled the Smoak car over.

"I immediately pulled to the side, and expecting him to come to the window, I started reaching for my wallet to get my license and it was not there," Smoak said.

About that time, he heard the officer broadcast orders over a bullhorn, telling him to toss the keys out the car window and get out with his hands up and walk backwards to the rear of the car.

Still not knowing what he was being stopped for, Smoak obeyed, and when he reached the back of the car, with a gun pointed at Smoak, the trooper ordered him to get on his knees, face the back of the car and put his head down.

When he did that, the officer handcuffed him and placed him in the patrol car. Then the same orders were blared over the bullhorn to "passenger" and Pamela Smoak got out with her hands up, was ordered to the ground, held at gunpoint, and handcuffed. Next, Brandon was ordered out and handcuffed in the same way.

Terrified at what was happening to them for no reason they knew, the family was also immediately concerned about their two pet dogs being left in the car there on the highway with the car doors open.

"We kept asking the officers -- there were several officers by now -- to close the car doors because of our dogs, but they didn't do it," said Pamela Smoak.

And as the officers worked in the late evening darkness, their weapons drawn as the Smoaks were being handcuffed, the dog Patton came out of the car and headed toward one of the Cookeville Police officers who was assisting the THP.

"That officer had a flashlight on his shotgun, and the dog was going toward that light and the officer shot him, just blew his head off," said Pamela Smoak.

"We had begged them to shut the car doors so our dogs wouldn't get out, and they didn't do that."

As the dog was heading out of the car toward the officer, "we had yelled, begging them to let us get him, but the officer shot him," she said.

Grieving for their dog and in shock over their apparent arrest for some unknown crime, the family could only wait. At one point, one state trooper did tell them they "matched the description" in a robbery that had occurred in Davidson County, Pamela Smoak said.

The ordeal went on for a time after that, the family terrified and in grief over the dog.

Finally, after a time, someone in authority figured out that the officers here had stopped and were holding the very family that someone in Davidson County had assumed had been robbed, though how that assumption grew to the authorization for a felony stop, James Smoak cannot understand, he said today.

"Finally, they asked me my name and I told them my name, date of birth, and other information, and they talked by radio to someone in Davidson County and finally realized that a mistake had been made," he said.

"A lady in Davidson County had seen that wallet fly off our car and had seen money coming out of it and going all over the road, and somehow that became a felony and they made a felony stop, but no robbery or felony had happened," Pamela Smoak said.

"Apparently, they had listened to some citizen with a cell phone and let her play detective down there," said James Smoak.

"Here we are just a family on vacation, and we had to suffer this."

When the officers did discover the mistake, "they said, 'Okay, we're releasing you and we're sorry,'" Smoak said.

As soon as Brandon was released from the handcuffs, he rushed over to the dead dog and began to cry, Smoak said.

And that's when one of the most infuriating parts of the ordeal happened, according to James Smoak.

"I saw one of the THP officers walk over to the city officer who had shot the dog and grin," he said.

He reported that to the supervising officer, THP Lt. Jerry Andrews, and Andrews "was very nice, very professional," Smoak said.

"He told me the officer was not laughing, but I know he was," said Smoak.

Smoak's parents had come along behind the other car and had seen all the commotion and stopped too, and now all three children were crying over their pet dog, as they were still doing today.

The Smoaks gathered the body of their pet and went to a motel here to spend the night. But they didn't get much rest, and at one point, James Smoak became so upset he had to go to the hospital for medical treatment.

They also worked throughout last night to contact all the authorities they could in order to lodge their complaints about what had happened.

Today, Beth Womack, a THP spokesperson in Nashville, told the H-C that an Internal Affairs investigation is underway and that every effort will be made to "find out exactly what happened and why."

"As I understand it, a report was made in Davidson County to our officers that this car had been seen leaving at a high rate of speed and that a significant amount of money had come out of the car and someone became suspicious," she said.

An internal investigation is also underway at the Cookeville Police Dept., Capt. Nathan Honeycutt told the H-C today.

James Smoak wonders about the logic of "a robber who would be tossing the money out of the car."

He also wonders about police procedure that would "take this insinuation from a citizen" and "turn it into what happened to us."

"Out there after they handcuffed us at gunpoint and put us in the police cars, they did not ask for ID, and later on, they actually released us just on my word about my identity, with only the confirmation by radio from an officer in Davidson County who was looking at my lost wallet and the ID in it down there," he said. "What if I actually had been a robber and not just a family man on vacation?"

His children hope they never come to Tennessee for another vacation.

"Poor Patton," said 13-year-old Jeb Smoak. "When he was killed out there, it was the first time I ever saw my brother, Brandon, cry. Brandon is the toughest person I've ever met, and he cried."

The other dog, a puppy named Cassie, was "trembling all over" after the ordeal, Jeb Smoak said.

"She's being real quiet today. She knows we're all grieving."

James Smoak, though still deeply upset today, said he understands that "the officer will say the dog was coming after him."

But it could all have been prevented, didn't have to happen, he is convinced.

In addition to telling his family's story to Capt. Randy Hoover, who "was very nice and very professional," and to a Cookeville Police official last night and to Mayor Womack today, Smoak also plans to tell his lawyer, he said.

"And I also want to tell it to the Tennessee Department of Tourism," he said.

_________________________________________________


That describes it from the family's point of view. Now, another article in the same newspaper, a bit later, describing it from the cop's perspective (http://www.herald-citizen.com/NF/omf.wnm/herald/news_story.html?[rkey=0024265+[cr=gdn):


Officer who shot dog 'protecting self'

Mary Jo Denton
Herald-Citizen Staff

Published January 03, 2003 12:15 PM CST

The police officer who shot and killed a dog during an incident on Interstate 40 here on New Year's Day says he felt he had no choice.

He was about to be attacked by the animal, he says.

And the whole episode originated with the Tennessee Highway Patrol, not the Cookeville Police Dept., city officials stress.

It was the THP officers who made the felony stop of a vehicle in which a North Carolina family was traveling, and the Cookeville Police Dept. was merely asked to come out and assist as backup officers.

State troopers involved were David Bush, David Roark, Jeff Phann, and Lt. Jerry Randolph.

Cookeville Police Officers Eric Hall and Mead McWhorter were dispatched to the I-40/S. Jefferson area at 5:14 p.m. that day to assist the THP.

That is, the THP asked the city force for help before initiating the stop, and the officers were sent there not knowing any details of the case.

As it turned out, the James and Pamela Smoak family of Saluda, North Carolina, say they were victims of a police mistake which began somewhere in Davidson County where they had stopped to get gas after visiting Nashville on a vacation.

James Smoak had lost his wallet as he drove off from the gas station in Davidson County, and someone who saw the wallet fly off the top of his car became suspicious and called the authorities.

From that point, someone in some law enforcement agency there apparently came to believe a robbery had occurred and began a search on the highway for the car to which the wallet's information led them.

In Cookeville, the car was stopped by the THP, and the family was ordered out of the vehicle at gunpoint and handcuffed.

And when their pet bulldog, Patton, came out of the car, one officer on the scene shot and killed the dog. The family was very upset and later filed complaints with both police agencies.

But the city officers who were sent to the scene to help another agency that day believe they performed their duties as they should have.

Here is Officer Hall's account of his part in the case:

"I was dispatched to assist THP with a felony stop that they were going to initiate at I-40 and S. Jefferson. While enroute to the call, I asked dispatch to find out what felony had been committed and to get a description of the suspect vehicle.

"Dispatch was not able to give me the information before I arrived on the scene. Once I was on the scene, I noticed that THP was already in the process of getting the suspects out of the vehicle.

"I retrieved my issue shotgun and took a position beside Officer McWhorter who was taking cover on the right side of the lead THP patrol car. Officer McWhorter and I covered the suspects with long guns while the state troopers did the hands-on.

"Suddenly, a dog, I believe to be a pit-bull, jumped from the suspect vehicle, singled me out from the other officers, and charged toward me growling in an aggressive manner.

"I yelled at the dog to 'get back' but it attempted to circle me to attack, so I felt that I had no other option but to protect myself.

"I fired once at the dog, instantly putting him down. VHS tape from in vehicle camera placed into evidence."

Here is Officer McWhorter's account of what happened:

"I responded to I-40 in order to assist THP on a felony stop. On arrival, I approached from the passenger side of Trooper Bush's unit. I took a position of cover at the passenger door of his unit. I provided cover from the location. The suspects were removed from the vehicle.

"As a trooper went forward to cuff the suspects, Officer Hall and I flanked to the right to maintain cover on the suspects and the uncleared vehicle. I passed a trooper my handcuffs. He cuffed the last subject.

"A dog exited the vehicle and focused on Officer Hall. The dog rapidly approached Officer Hall. Officer Hall stepped backwards and yelled get back. The dog continued toward the officer as he stepped back. Officer Hall shot the dog at the point that the dog would not retreat.

"When I saw that the threat had been stopped, I resumed cover on the vehicle. I assisted a trooper in clearing the vehicle. I assisted until I was released by the senior trooper."

The Smoak family, both in interviews with this newspaper and in formal complaints they later filed with the two police agencies, said they begged the officers at the scene to close their car doors so that their two pet dogs, both bulldogs, would not get out onto the highway.

The Smoaks' 17-year-old son, Brandon, said in his written account:

"All I could do is what they said. After I was handcuffed I realized that the front passenger door was open. My mom and I was begging to shut the door to the police officer next to me because we had two dogs in the car.

"One was a puppy, and the other was General Patton, a well trained dog that was scared and didn't know what was going on. Only if Officer Jeff Phann had shut the door or if they would have helped us by returning our wallet to us, instead pointing guns at us and taking a member of the family."

Here is Pamela Smoak's account of asking, after she was in handcuffs, for the car door to be closed:

"I asked the officer who was standing next to my son, about two feet from the open door to please shut the door so my dog wouldn't get out. I asked him several times, and he refused to shut the door.

"My dog then came out of the car and ran towards the officer with the shotgun and flashlight. We started yelling to please let us get him, don't shoot, he was only barking at the flashlight and jumping at the light. My son plays with him using a flashlight.

"This is when my dog was murdered. Anyway, this whole thing was a screw-up. A felony stop was made but no felony was committed."

Within an hour of the stop, the THP learned that no robbery had occurred and that James Smoak had merely lost his wallet. The family was released then.

Officials at the Tennessee Highway Patrol station here and at the Dept. of Safety in Nashville say the whole incident is being reviewed.

An internal investigation is also being made by the Cookeville Police Dept.

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sm
January 4, 2003, 03:11 AM
Traumatized is right. Be interesting to see how pans out.

WonderNine
January 4, 2003, 03:54 AM
""Apparently, they had listened to some citizen with a cell phone and let her play detective down there," said James Smoak."

Classic police state no-tolerance B.S.

Ripped them out of their car and placed them in handcuffs inside of a police car? What has this country come to? Whatever happened to unreasonable search and seizure? I guess a concerned call from a citizen on a cell phone negates all of that.

The supreme law of the land is overruled by some dude on a cellphone.

PUMC_TomG
January 4, 2003, 04:05 AM
I smell a lawsuit and an "undisclosed settlement". Send this out people... the more publicity the better... Damn trigger happy cops from what it sounds like...

But none of us were there so we can't comment too much on what we woulda done in his situation.... However OC spray comes to mind for me immediately... what's the cops excuse?

WonderNine
January 4, 2003, 04:21 AM
I agree TomG, we weren't there so we can't be judge, jury, and executioner, but it looks like from what this country has gone too, the police were already afforded that luxury.

DerRottweiler
January 4, 2003, 04:57 AM
This makes me so mad I can't see streight!
Those Idiot Officers gave all Officers a Black Eye in the Public's eye. And they will never understand why the Public is growing more distrusting of them everyday.
Any Idiot with half a brain can tell the difference between a Bulldog and a Pit Bull.

Kevlarman
January 4, 2003, 05:06 AM
If it were me handcuffed on the ground, I would've got up and shut the door myself, seeing as how the officers didn't do it. What are they gonna do? Shoot me in the back? I'd wouldn't be surprised if the answer was yes. Then they'd have an even bigger lawsuit to settle.

Jim March
January 4, 2003, 05:26 AM
I'd bet good money the cops got a headful of "you ain't tellin' US what to do!" when the family asked 'em to close the doors to the car.

The cops assumed it was because the family didn't want something spotted.

It's funny, but just yesterday night I was coming out of a grocery store and walking up to my bike. Two guys were walking away from their SUV arguing and yelling at each other, and a cop pulled up to scope out the situation...one of the two guys was verbally combative, started to walk away, the cop yelled at him to come back and basically things were getting tense. Ain't my problem, so I'm putting my helmet on to get the heck out o' there, and that's when I noticed the dog in the SUV. A *big* dog, 80+ lbs, not sure of breed. Sticking his head out of the fully open window.

Ohhhh heck. And the cop's got his back somewhat towards the dog, probably ain't seen it yet because he's focused on having words with an idiot. The dog was staring intently at the verbal argument, no growling or barking but clearly VERY alert and nervous.

What to do, what to do. Option #1, walk over and tell the cop "excuse me officer, but there's a big ol' dog over there who seems very interested in the proceedings, and isn't confined...". Downsides: arguing parties (including the belligerant one) ain't gonna be happy with me. God only knows how the cop will react.

Option #2, get on my bad motorscooter and ride the heck outta there.

I pondered it while putting my gloves on. "Lesse, I'm in San Jose, with an extremely anti-self-defense police department, if things go south and I end up pulling a 5.5" blade (sole weapon) on man or beast I'm gonna get crucified, 'specially since this police chief knows me from the CCW wars...".

That settled it. I boogied. I hope the four of 'em had a lovely evening, God only knows how it turned out.

Sigh.

Anyways. Damn cops in Tennessee shoulda know a doggie can "join the fun" unless prevented.

Macho morons.

Justin Moore
January 4, 2003, 07:10 AM
I guess a concerned call from a citizen on a cell phone negates all of that.

So does a phone call from a concerned member of the Stasi ;)

Anyone remember "Operation TIPS"? :cuss:

1goodshot
January 4, 2003, 07:42 AM
The cop who shot the dog should be fired,and sued.Mybe next time he will shoot a person. Sounds like a trigger happy cop to me. I would have closed the door to the car when I got out,but the cops should have done that when asked.:mad:

dave
January 4, 2003, 08:02 AM
Never mind. You guys already have your minds made up.

hammer4nc
January 4, 2003, 08:13 AM
Interesting to note, that the police report omitted ANY MENTION of the repeated requests by the "suspects" to close the car door for the dog's safety. Whats up with that?? :confused:

The officer will be placed on paid leave and ordered to attend remedial class in report writing, as the investigation will conclude everything else he did was exactly per dept. procedure and training. :mad:

Waitone
January 4, 2003, 09:27 AM
I have little use for tort lawyers because of the unchecked power to destroy that they have.

However, there are cases when their services are required. Here is one case where only civil litigation is going to sort out the truth.

Shows how fast and how bad things can go wrong ONCE INITIAL ASSUMPTIONS ARE MADE. I would like to know how the initial assmption was made that a felony was made.

Shotgunning the dog? I buy LEO's story right up until I learned the Griswolds repeatedly asked them to close the car door. Then there is the anticdote of the big grin.

Sounds to like a cocktail of boredom, testosterone, and adreniline. Someone needs to pay and pay bigtime.

tyme
January 4, 2003, 10:14 AM
Let's see... citizens won't get out to vote, politicians don't follow the Constitution, and police in general won't protect their image by disassociating themselves with the small minority of bad officers. Just another day in the Grand 'Ol US of A.

El Tejon
January 4, 2003, 10:35 AM
I'm confused. They found Mr. Smoak's wallet on the ground and the Land of Orange mall ninjas think HE'S the robber?

When a citizen calls to make a complaint, you are to investigate and gather evidence. The police are the professional witnesses of the prosecutor--the hands, eyes and ears. Why did they not see if a crime (that nutty corpus delicti) had alleged transpired. Maybe talk to a witness or a victim?

Hope this incident is used to train Land of Orange coppers--on what not to do.

Beren
January 4, 2003, 10:40 AM
I don't understand why the police wouldn't have closed the doors when asked to do so. The vehicle was stopped - it wasn't going to go anywhere. The situation was contained. The police had all the time in the world to sort out the facts of what happened, and then, if still necessary, search the vehicle as part of a legitimate arrest.

Willful negligence is clearly evident on the part of the police officers in this case. I, too, see an "undisclosed settlement" in the future.

Mustang
January 4, 2003, 11:17 AM
Gee, a couple in a station wagon, with dogs no less. Must be Bonnie and Clyde!

Couldn't put 2 and 2 together to close a friggin door, huh? A street full of cops and no one can think ahead two seconds to prevent a dog from coming out to do his job? Brilliant, guys!

F4GIB
January 4, 2003, 11:25 AM
You bet the officer SMILED after he shot the dog. One of the nearby cities to me appears to have an unofficial "bounty" on family dogs. They shoot them as a matter of course.

After all, he joined the force to feel the power. Otherwise he'd have gone to college.

Atticus
January 4, 2003, 11:27 AM
"Officer who shot dog 'protecting self' "

If that was me and my family..THAT would become his fulltime job.

Baba Louie
January 4, 2003, 11:29 AM
It was a FELONY STOP people. Tension level up a notch or two?
Cops at scene doing what they had to do.
Close the door? FELONY Stop. Dogs inside? Felony Stop.
Adrenaline pumping. Felony Stop.
Pit Bull. Not a tea-cup Chihuahua.

Hard choices made in a half a second.

How many times have cops been lied to? Felony Stop. Lies? Pit Bull. Jumping at you?
Close the door please! (Whattarethey trying to hide?)

These Cops are people, trying to do their job daily. 8 hours of boredom, 3 minutes of terror. Great pay.

I guess my Dad was wrong when he told me that sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Truly a cryin shame for ALL involved.

I hope the whole precinct/shift goes in and buys the family a new puppy, with PUBLIC apologies, full page ad in paper, etc.

Who made the decision to make a wallet/cash fluttering in the breeze a felonious stop?

They were there, we weren't and I'm kinda glad I wasn't on either end of that debacle.

Adios

TallPine
January 4, 2003, 11:36 AM
:cuss:

The trooper followed the car all that distance - didn't he run the plates and find out the car belonged to the owner of the wallet ...?

With all due dis-respect, what do these guys have for brains - sawdust with a little too much testosterone mixed in ... ?

So now it is a felony in Tennessee to lose your wallet?

:cuss:

Just keep it up, you Keystone boys - it'll come back and get you.

El Tejon
January 4, 2003, 11:39 AM
Baba Louie, I don't think the problem is in killing the dog. It's just a dog, albeit someone's property.

The problem is that they pulled these people over to begin with.:(

Baba Louie
January 4, 2003, 11:55 AM
El,

I agree. The quote about the fog of war comes to mind. Who reported what? At what time relative to the stop? Stopping a dynamic once it's in motion, etc.

Men with guns doing their job probably aren't in the frame of mind to calmy rationally think everything is peaches and cream and what a cute little doggie.

Its still a crying shame. Everyone affected in a negative light. Just reading the posts herein show mostly the baaaaaad ol puttytat syndrome.

My heart goes out to the kids who witnessed their soulmate/guardian angel being murdered, and to the officer who actually did the deed.

On a felony stop, who would condone the use of OC spray in hand as opposed to a 12 ga.?

Again, I wasn't there. But I do travel with my dogs in the car from time to time, so I guess I can try to relate to the family... sorta.
I have a cousin in the MO. State Police so I guess I can relate to the responding officer's frame of mind... sorta.

A tragedy of small proportions in the overall when compared to significant recent occurances (Does the kids a lot of good to rationalize Baba Louie)

Adios

JPM70535
January 4, 2003, 11:58 AM
Up until the Officer shot the dog I think proper procedures were followed reference the Felony stop. By no accounts from anyone present were the Troopers anything other than professional in their handling of the family during the stop. I would have used almost identical procedures up to the time the last family member was removed, then, as per request of the family and because I would have had to be blind not to see the dogs, I would have simply closed the door. End of story. No harm no foul. The mistake sorted out, family on their way with both dogs and a respect for the professionalism of the police.

Now someone is going to get a nice chunk of change and the bottom feeders will get richer. SHAME

Matthew Courtney
January 4, 2003, 12:00 PM
What cause does the TSP purport to have that a felony had been committed?

Mustang
January 4, 2003, 12:01 PM
Yeah..Close the DOOR! Ever heard of not escalating a situation or not compounding a problem? Especially after being given a CLUE as to a potential problem?

What are they hiding? Who cares? We'll search later! The couple was surrounded and restrained and weren't going anywhere. So we can't RE-OPEN a door later to search?

It should have been a no-brainer move to keep the animals contained. But we don't need brains...we have procedures.

Animals in the car? That's what Animal Control is for.

I agree with the above statement that this was typical "You're not gonna tell me what to do" attitude.

QuickDraw
January 4, 2003, 12:44 PM
I have to put in the obligatory"I wasn't there but"statement.
It would seem that with all those cops,cars and lights,all focused
on the family wagon,that someone might have noticed that there
were a couple of dogs in there! I think I would have noticed a
couple of bulldogs/pitbulls,the assault weapons of the dog world,
and closed the doors right quick!
I've driven through the east/southeast and always feared
some kind of incident like this,especially with Calif. plates!


Quickdraw

Ron L
January 4, 2003, 01:23 PM
Having worked with dogs before, this thing was realy bungled. If the cops were engaged in a felony stop and were cuffing potential suspects in order to minimize any threat to themselves, why didn't they do what was necessary, i.e. closing the car door, in order to minimize any potential threat from a large dog? If you're "containing" people in order to protect yourself, doesn't "containing" the dogs make sense too? At least until you get animal control or a handler to the scene to take care of things properly? I mean, if the stop were legit, would you just enter a strange car with strange dogs in it in order to perform the search? No way! Give me something like a car door at least between me and a dog I don't know.

Without the issue of whether the felony stop was correct or not, the cops on the scene should have contained the dogs until they could have been properly removed from the vehicle if a search were necessary.

nascarnhlnra
January 4, 2003, 01:31 PM
This situation disgusts me to no end. couldn't those boneheads see that there were dogs in the car to begin with and that closing the car doors was a good idea. Funny how a phone call and someones interpretation of an incident can cause the law to draw down on ya and shoot your dog. I hope those miltant officers loose their damn pension and all over this one. We are supposed to have RIGHTS in this country.

Ninj500
January 4, 2003, 01:46 PM
These stories are getting more and more frequent. What on earth are they teaching Police Officers these days? This "I won't be told what to do" attitude has to stop. This officer should be fired. It's clear if he truly cared about his own protection he would have made sure the door was closed and let animal control deal with the dogs. Doesn't matter if it's a felony stop, cops are paid and trained to handle themselves properly when confronted with stress. Nobody's perfect but such a boneheaded decision shouldn't be overlooked. In the past, I always took the side of Law Enforcement in these situations. The way I see it, a cop needs to control the scene to keep things from escalating. As a civilian that might require me to relinquish my freedom for a short period of time while things short themselves out. Most times that a small price to pay. I always treat law enforcement officers with respect, the badge requires me to do so. More and more though, I find the police are more concerned with control than common sense or decency, which slowly makes me respect the people behind the badge less and less.

gggarf
January 4, 2003, 01:55 PM
El Tejon,

In regards to the following statement from your earlier post:

Baba Louie, I don't think the problem is in killing the dog. It's just a dog, albeit someone's property.

With all due respect a dog is not "just a dog" to some of us. I lost a black lab in June who was 15 years old and was our child. I am sure that many more would wholeheartedly disagree with your statement that a dog is just a piece of property. To some of us they are family.

pax
January 4, 2003, 02:40 PM
Once the dog was advancing toward the officer, "barking and jumping at the flashlight" (per the story of the woman who owned the dog), the only good choice the officer had was to put the dog down.

Yeah, it sucks. Life does, sometimes.

Now, that said. Could one of the LEOs onboard explain why the police may not have wanted to shut the door? Was it 'just ego,' or was there some legit reason not to do so? Not knowing a lot about police procedure, I'm left wondering.

pax

Not only is life a bitch, but it is always having puppies. --Adrienne Gusoff

El Tejon
January 4, 2003, 02:41 PM
ggarf, don't get me wrong, I like doggies too. But they are not human beings, they are animals. As such, killing the dog is treated differently under the criminal code, even in a Southern state.

Thus, if the mall ninja is prosecuted for killing the dog, he will not be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter of the dog, but theft or crim. conversion (maybe criminal recklessness depending on how far from the family maybe).

The problem is that the officer should not have been in the position to pull the family over.:(

riverdog
January 4, 2003, 02:43 PM
First, <<the family's two pet bulldogs>> they were Bulldogs, not Pit Bull Terriers. Huge difference.

Second, I was also stopped ... actually, I was already stopped, so make it searched based on an anonymous phone call of shots fired. There had been no shots fired, it was a prank call, but I met the description. So they put me through the wringer and nothing had happened. So in the middle of nowhere, at 10 PM freezing cold, I let them search my truck because there wasn't anything illegal to find. So my comment is: Felony stops on citizen phone calls are okay IF the citizen no **** saw something and the call is not anonymous, but this citizen just found a wallet and some money ... she didn't see anything in the way of a felony. But LE took her imagination and ran with it. Who here thinks that level of scrutiny is professional? PPP

TallPine
January 4, 2003, 02:44 PM
Up until the Officer shot the dog I think proper procedures were followed reference the Felony stop. By no accounts from anyone present were the Troopers anything other than professional in their handling of the family during the stop. I would have used almost identical procedures up to the time the last family member was removed, then, as per request of the family and because I would have had to be blind not to see the dogs, I would have simply closed the door. End of story. No harm no foul. The mistake sorted out, family on their way with both dogs and a respect for the professionalism of the police.

BS !!!!!! (I would spell that out but it is a "family" forum)

Since when does losing your wallet call for a "felony stop" ????

This should have been a "hey, buddy - you lost your wallet" stop. What evidence did anyone have that a felony was committed?

These idiots should be permanently retired from LE (with allowance for the ones who were called in not knowing the original issue).

Not only should the family get a new puppy, they should also get a new car, a new house, and all the kids' way paid thru graduate school.

Peter Gun
January 4, 2003, 03:19 PM
The problem I have w/ this whole stop is the assumtion that the family are dangerous felons. Even if the police thought they might be suspects, whats wrong w/ letting them sit in the car until they got more info? And didn't they notice the dog when they removed the passengers? I agree that the main problem is that so much was assumed from a citizen's (assuming they are a citizen) complaint. I guess if I'm mad at my boss or something I can make a phone call and get a plunger shoved up his a**. Why did this have to be so rushed. I've been pulled over under suspicion of possesion and I sat in my own car for a good half hour before anyone said anything besides "keep your hands in view and sit tight". As far as shooting the dog goes, that was understandable once the situation got to that point, but could have easily been avoided.

Baba Louie
January 4, 2003, 03:26 PM
TallPine,

Not meaning to flame, but why should the local jurisdiction pay for anything more than a puppy? House, Car, college education?

Traumatic experience? Mental anguish?

Isn't this just what continues to force/cause the lawyer's into a "feeding frenzy"?

Lose their jobs? Investigation, certainly. Communications breakdown? Fix It right now (if thats a possibility).

Who's to say that those who would replace those "Retired" officers would be better?

Having said that (or asked rhetorical type questions), I'm certain that the attorneys are lining up for the families interviews to see who'll get them the most money when this goes to Civil trial.

I guess you're not the type to say a public apology and a new puppy (throw in food for a year or two and vet bills as well) would suffice, eh?

Maybe it wouldn't.

It's still sad. And tragic. And preventable.

I hope every LEO in this country is made aware of this situation and has some competant people reviewing their own in-house procedures, but with a WAR ON DRUGS and a WAR ON TERROR (just how do you wage war against a philosophy?) and a WAR against any American who owns Guns in IL, MD, NJ, CA, etc. there isn't much spare time left over to review simple communications skills I gather.

Adios

Ninj500
January 4, 2003, 03:42 PM
Traumatic experience? Mental anguish?

IMHO this would count as a legitimate reason to sue for mental anguish. These are not people that ate themselves to death and blamed McDonalds for their lack of willpower, or fell victim to the evil tobacco companies. There only "crime" was losing a wallet. Problem is the legitimate legal claims are lumped in with the goofball that sued because the haunted house she went to on her own free will was "too scary."

WonderNine
January 4, 2003, 03:43 PM
It was a FELONY STOP people. Tension level up a notch or two?
Cops at scene doing what they had to do.
Close the door? FELONY Stop. Dogs inside? Felony Stop.
Adrenaline pumping. Felony Stop.
Pit Bull. Not a tea-cup Chihuahua.

Excuse me for a second. You're not a felon until you've been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

By your attitude cops can do whatever they want because of who they 'might' be arresting.

2dogs
January 4, 2003, 03:48 PM
Has anyone read whether the dogs were actually pit bulls, American Bulldogs or English Bulldogs?

Just seems like if it was English Bulldogs no one in their right mind could consider them a threat (unless it already had you in it's jaws). I mean jeez, you could lay on the ground and roll away faster than the dog could run.:D

Derek Zeanah
January 4, 2003, 04:56 PM
Thus, if the mall ninja is prosecuted for killing the dog, he will not be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter of the dog, but theft or crim. conversion (maybe criminal recklessness depending on how far from the family maybe).

Ummm. Yeah, but what if I kill a police dog? How would that be prosecuted?

How is my dog worth less than a police dog?

GinSlinger
January 4, 2003, 05:04 PM
I have been following this thread all morning, and have repeatadly thought of posting this, but haven't. That being said, I am making an infrence from some of the language in the poor family's statements and certainly don't want to inflame anyone. Additionally, I fully realize that I may be mistaken with what I am about to say. All that aside, I cannot help but wonder if this isn't a DWB situation. In the past when I have heard/read of situations such as this it has almost always been a African-American person behind the wheel. I understand the "logic" behind racial profiling, but it still has MAJOR flaws, and I can't help but think that this is one of them.Methinks that there were certain prejudices in motion even before the stop. (And this is no slam against TN, it happens everywhere.)

GinSlinger

Mustang
January 4, 2003, 05:08 PM
I cannot help but wonder if this isn't a DWB situation. The thought crossed my mind too. It'll be interesting if/when more info comes out.

TallPine
January 4, 2003, 05:16 PM
I guess you're not the type to say a public apology and a new puppy (throw in food for a year or two and vet bills as well) would suffice, eh?

Maybe it wouldn't.

No, not hardly.

It's not really about the dog.

Compare it to rape - would it be reasonable to say: "so she got her dress tore and humiliated a little ... what's the big deal? By her a new dress and send her flowers every week for a year."

Maybe LE should have some probable cause before they do "felony stops" and go breaking into people's houses looking for drugs, etc.

PATH
January 4, 2003, 05:29 PM
When all is said and done.....I am going to keep a close eye on my wallet from now on!

cardboardkiller
January 4, 2003, 05:46 PM
I may be wrong on this, but if you kill a police dog, don't they prosecute you as if you killed a police officer?

I've been stopped before with my dog, 110lb Cane Corso, and told the officer that it was not a good idea to conduct our business with the dog and myself in the car. After seeing the size and surly disposition that my dog has towards strangers he agreed.

It seems as though with the amount of K-9 units out there that the officers would take into consideration what a threat any dog could be, I still find it astonishing to consider a Bull Dog threat enough to blow it's head off, a little pepper spray goes a long way against most canines unless they are worked into a complete frenzy.

To not heed the warnings and pleas of the family to shut the door because of the dogs is extremely negligent. What if the dogs got out and ran into the road and were killed? What if the officers had stopped a vehicle with a large dog capable of inflicting severe damage? Chances are a shotgun wouldn't have had a chance to be employed before an officer was attacked. Cops need to realize a dog can be more dangerous than a human, dogs don't fear firearms or understand their orders to submit to their authority, they need to be treated as a loaded weapon, if it takes shutting the car door to lock that weapon up, DO IT!!!

I feel extremely sorry for the family who lost what was undoubtedly a member of their family. The officers involved in this tragedy should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I'd make this case bigger than the Rodney King beating if it were up to me.


Check out www.canecorso.org

Butch
January 4, 2003, 05:58 PM
BABA LOUIE
Hard choices made in a half a second.

You don't get three people out of a car & handcuff them in a half second!
These buffons had time & then some!http://users.skynet.be/gedi/emoticons4u/mad/boese079.gif

Cal4D4
January 4, 2003, 06:22 PM
Another proud day for law enforcement. They feel they were following procedures, but things went wrong. It is more than "just" blasting the family pet. It really doesn't matter if it was a teddy bear. The issue is lack of respect for the sum total of that family. The police were given total control of the situation and death is the result. Nobody resisted, no crime committed. There can come a point in time when every police encounter is hostile from both sides. Alot of bad encounters have been flagged on these forums. Is this now to be accepted? :confused:

JohnBT
January 4, 2003, 06:24 PM
My dad was a VA State Trooper, but I can't this tune out of my head..."Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed..." These guys get paid to do a job, right? Or do they get paid to do the job right.

Did they check the car's interior prior to, during and after removing their suspects? Did they see the dog then? Did they leave the door, or doors, open. Who's zooming who here?

John

riverdog
January 4, 2003, 09:45 PM
So who's really at fault?

The city LEO who shot the dog? Nope, he was just following procedure wrt dangerous waddling canines ...

The LEO who left the door open? Nope, they were called to conduct a felony stop and that's what they did in following procedures to the letter, can't take any chances with hardened criminals, closing the door was obviously a ploy of some type ...

The dispatcher? She didn't leave the door open for the dogs to get loose and she certainly didn't pull the trigger. If she left anything out of her radio calls it was just procedure, gotta keep things short, can't confuse the officer in the field with too much info ...

The LEO who took the call from the concerned citizen? He was just following up on a potentially dangerous felony. After all, the citizen had found a wallet and LE is duty bound to follow up to determine what happened to the guy who owns the wallet. No one can accuse the THP of not following up on potential front page news. Felony? It's got to be a felony complete with felons, else why bother ...

The citizen who found the wallet? Nope, can't blame her because that would create a situation in which citizens simply minded their own business, didn't jump to conclusions and didn't call police for the most innocuous reason.

The guy who left the wallet on his car? Yep, this is where the entire episode began and it's only right that we circle back to put the blame where it rightfully belongs. :rolleyes:
------------------------------------------------------------
Can you tell I'm still simmering from my own detention due to an anonymous tip? The first thing LE should do with tips is consider the source -- Anonymous has no credibility. First determine if anything really happened before detaining someone who may (not) have done it. Citizen tips like the one in this debacle need to be investigated to determine what really-exactly-no **** happened. There shouldn't be a felony stop without a felony.

Approach the car to see who's inside, have four cruisers as intimidating back-up just in case. The driver didn't have a wallet with ID, so ask the female sitting next to him. Hmmm, same last name as the recovered DL :lightbulb: Nice dogs, looks like a family going home from Tennessee. "Sir, you dropped your wallet, have a nice day."

I'm done for now. Standing by -- please keep us informed.

Zak Smith
January 4, 2003, 10:10 PM
To keep this thread constructive, I'll pose this question:

Given what happened, what should happen next?

I propose the following:

1. A public apology by the police departments involved and the officers involved - both at the scene and in dispatch/where-ever the "elevated status" came from

2. Full restitution for destroyed property (the dog)

3. Restitution for any medical problems the family had due to the event (e.g. the guy had to go to the hospital because he was so worked up), including pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc.

4. The family should receive a "we're sorry we violated your rights" payment, which would also act as a punitive measure against the P.D. and/or all officers involved

5. Did I mention a public apology?

In short, I think whenever agents of the goverment screw up and violate rights - be it stomping kittens or discrimination - they should he held criminally liable for crimes (e.g. shooting the wrong person) and civilly liable to make things "as they were before."

-z

El Tejon
January 4, 2003, 10:13 PM
Derek and card, some states have statutes that call for the level of the offense to be increased if the animal is a LE critter or have separate offenses for this. Your animal is worth less than a LE animal because our lords in government have given notice to you serfs not to interfere with the knights' animals. Now go back to your plow and stop whining about your rights so we can better tax you to oppress you. Geez, some serfs!:rolleyes:

Admiral Thrawn
January 4, 2003, 10:17 PM
What a crappy chain of events... :scrutiny:

jmbg29
January 4, 2003, 10:27 PM
:banghead:

It was a FELONY STOP people. Tension level up a notch or two? A felony stop for a wallet seen on the highway with the :cuss: :fire: :cuss: MONEY BLOWING AROUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Note to Dick Tracy et al. WHEN THE THEIF IS STEALING, HE TAKES THE :cuss: :cuss: MONEY!

That said, there are a host of cops that need to learn the phrase "Would you like fries with that?"


My God!:uhoh: :fire:

KP95DAO
January 4, 2003, 10:47 PM
Twenty two and one half years ago I was a witness to a "cop" shooting a harmless dog with a shotgun. It was a puppy that stood 12" high and was about 24" long. It's "mistake" was running toward a "stranger" in front of it's home. The dog was shot just after it laid down on the ground as it had been commanded to by it's owner.

That "stranger" was an El Reno, Ok police officer who had been sent to the area to check on a citizen call about a loose dog. It was not this dog. How he ended up at this house is still a puzzle. Before the incident was over this police officer had shot the dog, slapped the dog's owner across the face with the butt of the shotgun, and kicked the man's wife, pregnant at the time, in the stomach. And pointed the shotgun at me and told me to "Back off Mother F***er before you get F***ing hurt." He also pointed the shotgun a next door neighbor of the owner. The shot was taken with children less than fifteen feet to the side of the line of fire.

When the responding supervisors arrived I informed them of their officer's lack of self control and was told that "Well, we have to go with the officer's story."

It was a very intense situation in which, if I had been in possession of a firearm, I would probably have shot the cop. He was presenting that much of a danger to the people around him.

So, I guess I should refrain from commenting on this story or some of the asinine posts by some of the people here.

By the way, at about two o'clock the next morning the El Reno PD came to the man and his wife, sitting in jail, and offered them a deal. If they would sign a release holding the Dept free of any wrong doing they would be let out of jail immediately. They signed because they didn't know any better.

KP95DAO
January 4, 2003, 10:56 PM
http://www.cookevillepolice.com/

Rarely do we like to issue statements regarding a situation that's under investigation. But in an attempt to help clarify some of the information that has already been made public, I would like to share with the citizens of Cookeville what we currently know about the I-40 incident regarding the Smoak family as they traveled through here on Jan 1.

The first thing I would like to address is the fact that the Cookeville
Police Department was called in as back-up by the Tennessee Highway Patrol on this matter. Based on the information we were provided, our role was secondary to what the THP termed as a "felony" stop, a possible car-jacking. We provided this back-up, and were never in primary control of the scene.

Unfortunately, during the THP's process of gaining control of the situation, a very rare thing occured. The Smoaks had been traveling with family dogs, and one of them got loose. It appeared to be a pit bull, and as it exited the car, it clearly approached one of our officers in a threatening manner. Our officer first tried to call the dog down, but after it kept approaching aggressively and started to circle him, the officer took the only action he could to protect himself and gain control of the situation.

I know the officer wishes that circumstances could have been different so he could have prevented shooting the dog. It is never gratifying to have to put an animal down, especially a family pet, and the officer assures me that he never displayed any satisfaction in doing so.

Before the Smoak family left Cookeville, I, along with our Vice-Mayor, met with them personally to convey our deepest sympathies for their loss and for their experience. No one wants to experience this kind of thing, and it's very unfortunate that it occurred. If we had the benefit of hindsight, I'm sure some - if not all of this - could have been avoided. I believe the Tennessee Highway Patrol feels the same way.

Our investigation is underway to determine what, if anything, could have been done differently. We will also continue to be in contact with this family. I know it's small consolation to the Smoaks, but we want to learn from this situation and try to make sure it never happens again.

Chief Robert E. Terry

Zak Smith
January 4, 2003, 10:57 PM
KP96DAO's story scares me because the right to self-defense always exists.

-z

WilderBill
January 5, 2003, 12:38 AM
Should that ever happen to me I expect the offecer in question could expect his house to catch on fire some night...just as soon as I could get the doors nailed shut!:fire:

TheeBadOne
January 5, 2003, 12:46 AM
Lets try to reign in the emotions and give a logical look to this incident.

1st-I feel for the family, been a dog owner/lover all my life.

2nd-The Police got a call, they have to go, have to investigate. They don't have the luxury of saying, "Ah, could be nothing but bull****".

3rd-"Why didn't the Police shut the doors". Felony stop. They are all pretty much conducted along this line (for S A F E T Y).

a) get as many squads as you can before you attempt (I say attempt because not only do you never know who is in the car, you never know if they are going to stop) to stop it.
b) stop the car with squads B E H I N D and to the S I D E (still behind the suspect car). This gives you defensive position in case you are fired on.
c) use the Public Address (PA) system (bullhorn) to have the suspects exit the vehicle 1 at a time and walk backward to you. (Look at the family statements, you'll see this is what happend). The key to this point is A L L the cops are quite a distance from the suspect car, nobody is a foot away from the suspect car door and "refusing" to just shut it. The suspect car is the last thing cleared, after all people are ordered out of it. Clearing the car is no piece of cake as not everyone does what the police ask. Sometimes a shooter is laying down on a seat or floor waiting for the cop to walk up present a nice headshot.

What I'm getting at is the suspect car is not approached until the people are all out and back by the squads. No cop is right at the car. I suspect the dog exited the car well before the car clearing began, and in fact before the last person was in custody. Did the family ask to close the doors? Maybe. Did the family say, "I'm asking you to close the doors because I have dogs"? Who knows. It's interesting that some posters have taken what the family said as gospil & that the cops omitted or lied. I think this was a tragic event. The citizen calling in thought he/she had reason and often times this type of calls catch a robber, a murder, a serial killer, or a child abductor. These calls are not to be taken lightly if you intend to live until retirement. We live in a mobile society, consider that. Everyone is in a car/truck/motorvehile. Right now as we speak some of the FBI's Top 10 most wanted are in a motor vehicle on a road somewhere in the US. Who knows what cop may come across them. Some people get miffed when stopped by cops for "routine" things like speed, stop sign, expired registration. You may think you know what you're being stopped, and you may even be right, but the cop never knows who's in the car. Perhaps the speeder he stopped was in a hurry because he just robbed a liquor store, or made a dope deal, or just killed his wife; and that is why they think they're being stopped, and they will kill this cop to get away. The FBI has compiled a list of Law Enforcement Officers killed every year for a long time now. Listed is what activities the officers were doing when they were killed, such as Arresting a subject, Serving a warrant, being ambushed by a killer, or doing a routine traffic stop. Wanna guess what's either #1 or #2 every single year since inception? Just wanted to give a little info out there. It'd be real nice if hindsite could be used in advance so they know who they are dealing with. Sadly it doesn't work that way.

QKRTHNU
January 5, 2003, 12:59 AM
"As a trooper went forward to cuff the suspects, Officer Hall and I flanked to the right to maintain cover on the suspects and the uncleared vehicle. I passed a trooper my handcuffs. He cuffed the last subject.
On a felony stop, who would condone the use of OC spray in hand as opposed to a 12 ga.?
He certainly could have hit the dog w/ OC instead of buckshot. :fire:

More importantly the family shouldn't have been cuffed in the first place and they could have restrained their own dogs.

Blackhawk
January 5, 2003, 01:15 AM
Well said, TheeBadOne.

The Smoak's two negligence contributions cannot be glossed over either: (1) leaving the wallet on the top of the car, and (2) not closing the car doors themselves knowing the dogs weren't restrained within the car.

Traveling with dogs requires that you always be aware of them and their tendency to get out if they can.

It's a sad and tragic situation, but stuff happens, and life doesn't come with "fair" guarantees....

KornDogg
January 5, 2003, 02:52 AM
I was pointed over to this site from another about this thread. I read through a little over half of it, so if I reitterate someone's point or miss something in the latter half of this, my apologies.

It seems like everyone here (or at least at the first part of the thread) want's to condemn the police. All at the same time while not one of us were there, and none of the officers involved knew the full story (like we do know) until after the fact... Monday Morning Quarterbacking at it's finest.

I think we all need to keep in mind that there were at a minimum, 3 agencies involved, with a total of 5 parties involved (the family and the "concerned citizen", along with the aforementioned 3 LE agencies). It is definitely not expected that all personel involved of those 3 agencies will know the full story (or at least the information known at that time).

I also believe that all parties do share a small bit of fault in this, and would be more willing to say that everyone just needs to call this a day, with apologies and sympathies expressed.

1) The dog. This seems to be the pivot point of this whole matter. If the dog were not shot, I believe that the family would be back home, enjoying themselves, with the majority of this experience put behind them. The officer that shot the dog was neutralizing a threat. He had no clue the dog was there to play with his flashlight. A barking a growling dog approaching me would have recieved the same treatment if I were in that situation. I commend the officer in making a clear, logical decision, and commend him in making a clean quick shot (from what I read it was a head shot, and would have inflicted the least amount of pain). Not all chemical irritant sprays work on canines, and also, reaching for OC while trying to handle a weapon meant for two hands can present a potentially dangerous situation for all involved, especially when the officer's primary job was to provide cover and safety for the other officers at that time.

2) The concerned citizen and the Davidson County Police. While the lady that witnessed the wallet and money fly from the vehicle may have assumed a bit much, you still have to commend her for at least noticing and calling it in. If it were not for people like this, many DUI/DWIs would go unnoticed and unpunished. People like these can either be a crutch or an excellent aid to law enforcement... sometimes both. While some say the county police shouldn't have done anything with the call, they should think about it and realize that if potential crimes are left uninvestigated, our sucessful crime rate would be sky-high. They did thier job with what tools they had to work with at the time. If they had not acted, and this was a legitimat carjacking/robbery, the possibility of the family's lives being taken would have been much worse than a dead dog.

3) The felony stop. Some asked why a felony stop was performed when no felony actually occured. Hindsight is 20/20, and if this procedure was not in place for suspected felonies as well as known felonies, then I'm sure we would have had many more officers across the country pushing up daisies. None of the officers on the scene knew that this was the famly that was allegedy robbed, and only knew that they were involved in this "robbery". A felony stop is performed only for the sake safety in all parties concerned. Someone said they would have gotten up, gone to the door and shut it, and would have sued for being shot in the back. Sorry Kevlarman, but you would have been a justified shoot as well... How would the LEOs know you were not going for a weapon? Pretty stupid... Darwin will take care of you in quick time if you act upon that kind of attitude.

4) The family. While the father shouldn't have left his wallet on the roof of the vehicle, we can be 99% certain that this wasn't intentional. However if he had not been absent minded about that, this would have never happened. They could have shut the doors on the vehicle (using thier body, not hands) while exiting the vehicle. They also could have restrained the dogs prior to even being pulled over (as they knew they could possibly be pulled over once the THP cruiser was following them).

5) Finally, the THP conducting the felony stop. The reason LEOs will not listen to you while clearing a vehicle is quite simple. It is a distraction to them. Thier primary job is to clear the vehicle, and restrain all passengers until facts can be straightened out, while providing for the safety of ALL parties (not just themselves) at the same time. Officers who are assigned to maintain control of those suspects that have already been put under restraint cannot risk the distraction of relaying a message up to those who are still trying to clear the vehicle. As far as they know, someone could have been armed in the back of the vehicle, and could shoot whichever officer is approaching to close the doors. Also to add, the officers might have left the door open to where the dogs could exit and calm down a bit. Approaching an excited/stressed animal who is in a confined space can be a dangerous situation, and also leave more of a chance for the animal to attack.

This is a sad situation for all parties involved, but unfortunately was justified. I feel for the dog, as he was the true victim in all this, only wanting to play. However, dogs have no fear of firearms, and cannot communicate as easily or clearly as we are capable.

My condolences go out to the family, and my sympathy goes out to the officers, who were only trying to safely do thier job.

Cal4D4
January 5, 2003, 02:58 AM
Gotta disagree very strongly with TheeBadOne's comments. It went very wrong under the direction of the LEOs. Honest people responding under threat of being shot don't add extra moves like closing car doors. Forgetting a wallet on your car is hardly contributory negligence to this scene. Basic feeling is no honest citizen should ever be subjected to such a clusterflap, with or without the dog blasting. Like a "no knock with fatality" at the wrong address, it challenges our ability to allow peaceful interaction with law enforcement. Further ranting should wait until after the investigation is complete, but this exceeds acceptable LEO conduct by an extreme margin.

jmbg29
January 5, 2003, 05:04 AM
(1) leaving the wallet on the top of the car, and (2) not closing the car doors themselves knowing the dogs weren't restrained within the car. So now it is a crime to leave one's wallet on the roof. I once had a girlfriend that that left her purse on the roof of her car (more than once). Guess that makes her eligible for the F.B.I. Ten Most Wanted List.:rolleyes:

Sounds like it is a good thing they didn't close the car doors themselves, compared to "wallet leaving", "door closing" must certainly be a hanging offense. Wouldn't want Mr. Triggerhappy to hear the scary noise of a door closing.:rolleyes: Chief Robert E. Terry He has to just be kidding, right?:banghead:

KornDogg
January 5, 2003, 05:10 AM
I don't think anyone said it was a crime to leave your wallet on your roof, however it would not have happen if this man wasn't being absent minded. Keep in mind he wasn't pulled over because of the wallet itself, but reasonable suspicion (from the infomation given at that moment) he was involved in a felony grade crime.

jmbg29
January 5, 2003, 05:30 AM
Keep in mind he wasn't pulled over because of the wallet itself, but reasonable suspicion (from the infomation given at that moment) he was involved in a felony grade crime.I sort of asked this in my first post, but in this one I'll be more direct.

What sort of mental illness/brain injury must a person suffer from, for that person(s) to believe that a theft has been committed when a wallet is seen complete with its valuable contents, in the road?

I've only been here on the planet Earth for 40 years or so, but in that time I have lost or returned/attempted to return/kept objects left on the roof or in the truck bed and yes, even objects left on bumpers or under hoods like wrenches, hammers, wallets, motel keys, gascaps, the extendable pole that the Linemen use to turn off electrical transformers, toolbags, gloves, etc., etc., etc...

Never, upon seeing any of these objects go flying, did I break into hysterics and call the cops to say that "Somebody just carjacked some folks, and he is throwing their money and stuff out the window."

I guess I just can't get my head to work in that extremely warped fashion.

BTW For anyone wishing to return things like wallets, and their contents, that little card thingy with the person's picture on it, also has their address on it. Put down the "John Walsh" cellphone ma'am, and slowly back away. :banghead: :scrutiny: :banghead:

KornDogg
January 5, 2003, 05:34 AM
What sort of mental illness/brain injury must a person suffer from, for that person(s) to believe that a theft has been committed when a wallet is seen complete with its valuable contents, in the road?

Exactly my thoughts... this lady blew it out of proportion, and as far as we know she may have reported seeing a "struggle" inside the vehicle as this was all happening. Some people "see" things and let thier imagination run wild.

And to go along with that... if she's the one making false reports, why crucify the LEOs for acting upon it properly?

Preacherman
January 5, 2003, 08:39 AM
What I'm still battling to understand is this. OK, the unknown "good citizen" sees a wallet fall off the car, with money and other things blowing in the breeze, and calls 911 to report a suspected theft/robbery/whatever. So far, there is nothing on which to base any suspicion of a felony - just the comments of one citizen (who might be telling the truth, or might be a nutcase phoning in everyone for everything!). AFAIK, no business or private person reported to the police that they had been robbed. In the absence of a first-party complainant, rather than a third-party "suspicion of" report, how DARE the police make any sort of felony stop at all? Isn't this a classic contravention of the Fourth Amendment? It's totally unreasonable!

Now, if gas station X, or fast food establishment Y, or citizen Z, had actually reported being robbed, and the car had been seen in that vicinity at the time of the robbery, then I agree that the circumstances would change - there IS probable cause to suspect that car's involvement in the crime, especially with a report of money blowing around in the breeze behind it! Under the circumstances, if I were the person in the car, and got felony-stopped, I'd be forced to admit that there were grounds to suspect me on the basis of the citizen report, and I wouldn't even complain about being handcuffed until the facts could get sorted out. But to do all this without any reports of an actual felony being committed, on the word of a single observer whose bona fides (AFAIK) were not even checked, seems catastrophically stupid on the part of the agencies concerned. If they did it to me, even without a dog's death, I'd be laying Federal civil rights charges against them and bringing civil suit.

2nd Amendment
January 5, 2003, 09:00 AM
I can only hope this PD is still struggling for financingt 20 years from now due to the expense of paying off the judgement against them.

TallPine
January 5, 2003, 09:13 AM
More than 20 years ago, I got pulled over by CO HP on I-25 one night. I was kind of PO'd because I was doing the speed limit. Officer says "you're going to lose all your worldly possesions"

"Huh?" ... turns out my pickup camper door was swinging in the wind.

"Uh, thanks officer" ... get out the baling wire ... "have a nice evening" to all.


Fast forward to today, same circumstances. What would happen? "Um, guy must have kidnapped some girl and tied her up in the camper, but she got loose and escaped ..." call in backup, etc, etc, etc ...

:banghead:

Whatever happened to sanity and common sense?

riverdog
January 5, 2003, 09:31 AM
the unknown "good citizen" sees a wallet fall off the car, with money and other things blowing in the breeze, and calls 911 to report a suspected theft/robbery/whatever. So far, there is nothing on which to base any suspicion of a felony - Preacherman got it right. There was no felony until the officer taking the report ramped it up to a felony. The citizen can't make a felony out of a wallet.
Some asked why a felony stop was performed when no felony actually occured. Hindsight is 20/20, and if this procedure was not in place for suspected felonies as well as known felonies, then I'm sure we would have had many more officers across the country pushing up daisies. 20/20 hindsight is what LE should be attempting to avoid. Rather than ramping a wallet up to a felony forcing the THP to make a felony stop, they could have considered that the source of the info was a citizen who didn't see anything.

I'm not going to blast the officers on scene, they were following procedures for a felony stop, but the folks who ramped this up to a felony and didn't determine what really no **** happened should be looking for a new job. The lady who called 911 didn't see anything. You don't have officers on scene conduct a felony stop just to investigate to determine IF a felony occurred -- or do you? Is that the procedure these days? Use felony stops as a routine investigative tool. PPP

EDIT: My guess is that the IA investigation will focus on the 911 call, what exactly was said, and subsequent dispatch communications. Just a WAG.

Blackhawk
January 5, 2003, 11:24 AM
jmbg29,So now it is a crime to leave one's wallet on the roof. Don't be obtuse. Nobody said that.

It was a negligent action that precipitated the events.

The second negligent actions that led to escalation of the SNAFU was failing to close the car door(s) upon exiting the car knowing the dogs were within and unrestrained.

riverdog
January 5, 2003, 11:48 AM
It was a negligent action that precipitated the events.

The second negligent actions that led to escalation of the SNAFU was failing to close the car door(s) upon exiting the car knowing the dogs were within and unrestrained. Yeah, blame the victims. Seems to me that the negligent action was ramping this up to a felony stop when NO FELONY HAD BEEN COMMITTED Taking some untrained 3rd party observers story and turning that into a felony investigative stop is IMO criminal. Yeah, I'm biased, been there.

F4GIB
January 5, 2003, 11:50 AM
Blackhawk said:
"The second negligent actions that led to escalation of the SNAFU was failing to close the car door(s) upon exiting the car knowing the dogs were within and unrestrained."

OK, policeman - how do you suggest the driver do this with a half dozen armed men yelling at him to put his hands up, move slowly, and do exactly as we say ???

If he shuts the door with his hands, they'll shoot him.
If he shuts the door with his feet, they'll shoot him.
If he shuts the door with a nudge from his butt, they'll shoot him.
After all you have all assured us that the doors need to stay open on a "felony stop" and movement by the suspect is a "threat" to the officers.

If he ask permission to shut the door, they'll yell at him shut up, we are in charge, do as we say, etc. If he persists he risks getting an 870 stock in the mouth. At the least someone will smack his mouth into the concrete to teach him to respect the police.

The police want to be IN CHARGE, so the police are RESPONSIBLE for everything that they set in motion. You can't have it both ways!

Cal4D4
January 5, 2003, 12:32 PM
The clearest act of negligence was taking a vacation. They left the safety and comfort of their hobbit hole. With smirking apologies to Tamara and all who live in that part of the world, they shoulda come to Californy, its the place they oughta be. So pack up what's left of the dogs and kids and move to Beverly.... Hills that is. If you're a movie star (Zsa Zsa Gabor)you can even b*tch slap a cop and not get blown away!:D

I'm just so glad it isn't Kali this time.

Zak Smith
January 5, 2003, 12:37 PM
The LE-sympathetic point-of-view expressed, here by KornDog:
t seems like everyone here (or at least at the first part of the thread) want's to condemn the police. All at the same time while not one of us were there, and none of the officers involved knew the full story (like we do know) until after the fact... Monday Morning Quarterbacking at it's finest.

... really disturbs me, for the following reason: We all start out with basic rights - the right to our person, our life, property, which entails the right to not be physically attacked, harassed, physical freedom, and the right to not have out property (e.g. our dog) destroyed. Those rights stay intact until we infringe upon those same rights of another, at which point some of ours become forfeit.

For example, you may not inflict violence upon my person in the normal state of affairs; yet once I initiate force against you, my right to bodily safety is forfeit (generally in proportion to the threat I pose).

Since this family didn't infringe on the rights of anybody else, they did not forfeit any rights, and thus the LEOs as a whole infringed on the family's rights.

There are well-defined qualitative levels of suspicion for LEOs (e.g.: reasonable suspicion, probably cause, search warrants) so that the level of infringement on the freedom of the citizen is proportional to the "quality" of information indicating they have previously committed a crime (ie, infringed on someone else and thus deserving).

In this case, the mechanisms in place as safeguards broke down, and their rights were infringed wrongly. Thus all the LEOs involved are culpable. The family bears no guilt, and certainly the dog cannot bear any.

-z

Randy63
January 5, 2003, 12:39 PM
This story makes me irate. I've never really had a high opinion of most police. Over the years this sentiment has been reenforced time and time again.

These guys are public servants? BULL**IT.

Ego Tripping Nazis.

K22

Blackhawk
January 5, 2003, 12:55 PM
:banghead:

I don't know why I bother. Some of you are just too emotional to be objective.

Essential chain of events and responsible party: Wallet left on roof -- Smoaks
Wallet reported to police -- 911 caller
Felony report -- Apparently a THP or police "dispatcher"
Dogs left with way of exiting car -- 1 or more of the Smoaks
Dog shot -- CPD officer
The third one caused the die to be cast for the type of stop, and that's where the major screwup happened.

To assume that the THP would have shot any of the Smoaks if they bumped the doors shut with their butts but with their hands straight up in the air is asinine.

We don't know what the 911 caller said, if anything, to cause the dispatcher to categorize it as a felony, nor do we know the experience or training of the dispatcher. Nor can we conclude that the overzealous felony call was "wrong" with the information available.

Obviously, none of this would have happened if the wallet hadn't been inadvertently and carelessly left on the roof.

Just as obviously, the SNAFU would not have turned into being FUBAR if the dog hadn't gotten out.

You can each make of that what you want, but for some reason Jesse Ventura's line comes to mind: "The truth? You can't handle the truth!"

2nd Amendment
January 5, 2003, 01:19 PM
The second negligent actions that led to escalation of the SNAFU was failing to close the car door(s) upon exiting the car knowing the dogs were within and unrestrained.

I'm sorry but that is possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard. That's not hyperbole, either. It's just so bizarre as to be almost unreal. Joe Schmoe leaves a wallet on his roof and all the ensuing Keystone Kops stupidity becomes his fault, even failing to close a door with armed idiots screaming the usual patented and trademarked obscenities at him.

This was a screw-up of monolithic proportions. Nobody is seeing the "cop side" because this is one of those situations where the only other side can be "Duh, ah didn' know whut was go'n on..."

:rolleyes:

No, it is insufficient to call the statement dumb. let me specify WHY it is too dumb for rational conversation:

Joe Schmoe finds himself pulled over in an unfamilar area by a large group of unfamilar cops when he knows he has done nothing wrong. This isn't a no idea what you've done wrong thing because that indicates you've at least done something. He's ordered from his car without any idea of what is going on or what is to come. But he's not the only person in the car. Why should he be expected to close the door? is he supposed to expect being cuffed, stuffed and detained at this point? Why? keep in mind who the victim is here.

No logical reason to expect detainement or feel a need to close a car door.

Second individual in car is ordered out. At that point the person is probably either physically removed or at least escorted from the vehicle. There's still no idea why, for either victim. Would you close that door? Would you even think of it at that point? Why should you or we expect someone in a situation like this to BE thinking of it? And considering it's an almost certainty there was a cop AT the door why did HE not close it?

Especially after being told dogs were in the car later?

Lastly, have EVER forgotten your wallet, keys, ID, money anywhere for any reason? Then don't call it negligence. negligence is a pattern or attitude of general incompetence.

This was a mistake. An accident. It happens. We have ALL done it. And not one of us deserves this sort of bumbling, ham-handed JBT routine. There is no defense.

edited thrice for additional thoughts, even though it didn't show the first time

Cal4D4
January 5, 2003, 01:22 PM
With substantial respect to the hazards of law enforcement, my final comments....

How can you work so hard to excuse the unexcusable?

riverdog
January 5, 2003, 01:32 PM
Blackhawk,
I agree with some of what you said, but not all.
1) I agree that the major mistake was at the 911 caller/felony report interface. Whatever information was reported or assumed, it was obviously wrong. Major error IMO.
2) I disagree on closing the door. Having the presence of mind to shut the car door when LE is using a bull horn to control your every movement and action is expecting too much.

Maybe I'm off base, but I find the dog's death to be a secondary issue. The primary issue is conducting a felony stop without all or any of the facts. Neither the THP or City LEOs on scene knew what had transpired or who they were dealing with. It took them an hour just to figure out they'd stopped and detained the victim of this non-felony. They didn't know the identity of the alledged perps and they didn't know the identity of the victims or the nature of the crime. Does that make the stop inappropriate? I think so.

LE was grossly uninformed/misinformed and they need to figure out which.

Gmac
January 5, 2003, 04:06 PM
Typical JBT attitude = " I am in charge and anyone who doesn't do exactly as I say will be shot and then shot again because I am GOD!" What ever happened to asessing the situation and responding in a professional manner?

Blackhawk
January 5, 2003, 04:13 PM
I agree with your whole last post, riverdog.

The death of the dog is what caused this SNAFU to become irreversible. Without that happening, the Smoaks could be placated, wined, dined, and otherwise made to "feel" better.2) I disagree on closing the door. Having the presence of mind to shut the car door when LE is using a bull horn to control your every movement and action is expecting too much. You're free to disagree, but take a look at it from the LEOs perspective. They were ordered to make a felony stop of this vehicle without any reason why. Al Qaida? Abduction? Escapees? They simply had no idea.

How about an abductee tosses a wallet out as a ploy to alert police of a crime in progress? Plausible?

How about a trained attack dog lurking ready to go on a secret voice command when an open door is available? Possible?

There are ANY number of scenarios that the LEOs could be facing, but the bottom line is that they didn't know what was going on any more than the Smoaks did.

Which brings me to the dark horse. The second Smoaks car. Since I would have, it seems reasonable for the elder Smoaks to come up to the THP OIC and ask "What's the trouble officer? That's my family and we're on vacation returning to ________ ."

The Smoaks were the only ones who knew the dogs were in the car. LEOs do not pay attention to requests from detainees unless and until the ENTIRE situation is under their control. Screaming for them to close the car door isn't going to do anything but agitate the LEOs and the dog.

I just don't think it was unreasonable for the Smoaks to close the car doors when they had the opportunity. That's my opinion, and everybody else is entitled to theirs.

Blackhawk
January 5, 2003, 04:15 PM
No problem, 2nd Amendment. I consider the source.... :rolleyes:

Zak Smith
January 5, 2003, 04:25 PM
Trained attack dog on secret voice commands? Sure... hey, it could have been dogs with bees in their mouth so when they bark they shoot bees.... on secret voice command.

Which brings me to the dark horse. The second Smoaks car. Since I would have, it seems reasonable for the elder Smoaks to come up to the THP OIC and ask "What's the trouble officer? That's my family and we're on vacation returning to ________ ."
I just don't think it was unreasonable for the Smoaks to close the car doors when they had the opportunity. That's my opinion, and everybody else is entitled to theirs.

Why do you go to so much trouble to attempt to put responsibility back on the completely innocent citizens?

The LEOs initiated and escalated the situation.

-z

Blackhawk
January 5, 2003, 04:41 PM
:banghead:

I don't Zak. The responsibility lies entirely on the LEOs.

The grievous injury was the death of the dog. After the dog came out of the car, there wasn't going to be any other outcome.

The only ones with the opportunity to protect the dog were the Smoaks.

There's a lot of difference between opportunity to mitigate probable harm and responsibility for causing it.

I'm sorry for the Smoaks, and I'm sorry for the CPD and THP. But under the hands all on the scene were dealt as a result of the initiating SNAFU, things went predictably sour.

2nd Amendment
January 5, 2003, 05:07 PM
No problem, 2nd Amendment. I consider the source....

Really? I don't believe I've ever seen that particular creative method of avoiding the point before. Thx for showing me something entirely new and inventive... http://www.blacktalon.net/images/smilies/smilie_splatter.gif

Zak Smith
January 5, 2003, 08:38 PM
Blackhawk,

I must have read too much into your comments. I apologize.
under the hands all on the scene were dealt as a result of the initiating SNAFU, things went predictably sour.Agree.
-z

Matthew Courtney
January 5, 2003, 08:59 PM
Doing something the LEO in charge of the felony stop did not order you to do is likely to get you killed. The Smoaks should not have closed the doors.

The LEO supervisor who ordered the felony stop is the responsible party. The LEO's at the scene likely had a good faith belief that they were dealing with a potentially violent felon.

Grinning or smiling under stress are among the range of natural, reasonable human responses. So doing does not indicate that one who does is inclined toward or takes particular pleasure in the situation. Effectively repressing one's emotions under stress is often the best way to survive.

The procedures for ordering felony stops in that jurisdiction need to be reviewed, as does the training of the supervisory personnel empowered to order such stops.

Baba Louie
January 5, 2003, 08:59 PM
WOW!

Greeeeaaaattt Thread.

This side and that side.

Back and forth.

During a felony stop when the cops have you surrounded, lit up and HAVE THEIR GUNS DRAWN, ordering you to throw out keys, keep hands visible, open door and exit with arms outstretched, etc., who's gonna have the presence of mind to "Close the door"?

I'm probably gonna be wondering, "What the heck" while complying TO THE FULLEST EXTENT I CAN. What dog?, What family? Why do these guys have their guns pointing at me> Everything else is in last place.

Ever had cops all around you pointing their arms at you, READY and WAITING for some serious caca to occur? (I personally haven't thank you very much)

Did the cops on scene know about a misplaced/lost loose wallet? Probably not. They knew what the dispatcher told them. They then did what they had to do (or were trained to do) and (remember I wasn't there) probably did it in a professional manner.

Shooting the dog? Bummer and all sorts of bad words which cannot be repeated here.

It sounds like some here would have the cops turn on their clairvoyent helmets and know totally what the situation was.

Once the po-po are called in, believe me, they TAKE CHARGE OF THE SITUATION. THAT'S WHY THEY WE HIRE, TRAIN THEM AND SEND THEM OUT ON THE STREET. (sorry for shouting) Cause you and I are sitting here at home or work doing our little jobs, very rarely dealing with the criminal element on a daily basis. Ususally we only hear about the events like this one where some form of life is lost. Sometimes the good guys win, sometimes...not. Sometimes, its a little more complex. Like life.
I thank god they're there. Imagine a life here without them (OK Fred, it's your turn to go on patrol tonight. Right after Ethel gets back in off her shift)

Second guessing and raging out doing the monday morning QB'ing... it's what we do here.

Are some people in uniform not qualified? Maybe. Maybe not.

Did bad stuff happen here? Without a doubt. Will the Smoaks get their day in court? Probably.

Lets all wait and see how this plays out.

If you're LEO (or retired/former etc), please join in... better yet, wait for a cooling off period, when both sides of the "TRUTH" come out (if ever...truth being a perception).

It'll be real interesting to see what happens. And can we believe the press totally anyway?

This isn't a Ruby Ridge or Waco, tho some here would think so.

No human lost their life. (again, I thank goodness)

Yeah, the Smoaks had a New Year they'll never forget. So did THP and the Cookville boys in blue.

Lets all learn something (tho what I'm not sure) from this.

At least how to remain civil when dealing with others on "The Higher Road".

Adios

F=ma
January 5, 2003, 09:15 PM
If there were dogs visable/known in the vehicle, wouldn't it be prudent to confine/contain them in the car ASAP?

There's three likely directions the dog will go....towards the people/police, towards the highway (causing vehicle #2 to swerve and crash, x fatals?), or they could take off for the woods.

I would think that a dog would be treated as an immediate threat and, with that many personel on scene, confined prior to physically handling its master. A poor job of controlling the scene, in my uneducated opinion.

Mustang
January 5, 2003, 09:37 PM
the officer took the only action he could to protect himself and gain control of the situation. Sure it was the only course of action. After you screw up by not preventing something in the first place, usually the only course of action left is to do something stupid. That's what happened here.

Thanks, Chief for that in-depth investigation.

Has there ever been high profile foul up where some grunt didn't lie to his CO about what happened?

I believe the Smoaks when they said Johnny Law here was pleased with his handiwork. "No Chief, honest, I didn't grin about it."

GinSlinger
January 5, 2003, 10:09 PM
Several pages ago I posted that i wondered if this was a case of DWB based on the severe over-reaction of the officers and some of the syntax in the Smoat's statements. I viewed an interview with the Smoat family at work this morning. They are anglo, white, whatever. I want to clarify that and to apologize for jumping to conclusions. However, maybe DWB is no longer going to be "special". Perhaps, in this post 9/11 time, we are all susiptible to this kind of behavior.

In Humbleness,
GinSlinger

Blackhawk
January 5, 2003, 10:51 PM
I don't believe I've ever seen that particular creative method of avoiding the point before. Thx for showing me something entirely new and inventive... My pleasure, 2nd Amendment.

Did you have a point?

I thought you were just astounded at the dumbest thing you had ever read.

cratz2
January 5, 2003, 10:53 PM
Well, a LEO's gotta do what a LEO's gotta do and I think this officers decision is going to cost the state of Tennesee a bundle. Not to mention the fact that many people have been killed over shooting another man's dog.

2nd Amendment
January 5, 2003, 11:21 PM
I am, really! I'm still gasping from the shock. ;)

Seriously, I went on to explain why it seems so dumb as opposed to just saying it was. I expected you to tell me why I'm just too dumb to get it.

Blackhawk
January 5, 2003, 11:46 PM
I expected you to tell me why I'm just too dumb to get it. I wouldn't do something like that -- it wouldn't be nice!

(Besides the forum rules don't allow it....)

2nd Amendment
January 5, 2003, 11:57 PM
Sure they do, you just have to be creative, dangit!

Sniper9
January 6, 2003, 12:22 AM
I had to register here just to reply to some of the professional monday morning quarterbacks here who have obviously never conducted a felony stop, pulled over a car, strapped on a vest, pinned on a badge, cleared a car, dispatched a call, answered a 911 call, shot a weapon in self defense, etc, etc..continue typing away b/c you don't have a clue. You've made that clear in your replies. I wish the streets were as simple as some of you make them sound. The real world is far from perfect. Very far from perfect. Anyone who's every been on the job for any amount of time can easily see how this could have occurred anywhere given the facts known. The thing most people on this board seem to neglect is that YOU DON'T KNOW ALL THE FACTS, and you obviously don't understand why police officers do some of the things they do, and why they don't always do things the way you would. Perhaps some of you should contact your local PDs and request to do a ride along? Then perhaps you would have just a little bit of knowledge to base your opinions on.

If you can't tell I'm just a cop. I didn't get picked on in high school, I was in the military, I did go to college & I could be making a lot more $$$ doing a lot less. I do it b/c it's who I am... and I thank God there are thousands of men and women just like me out there on the streets right now. To my brothers and sisters on this board, stay safe. I'm still trying to understand how this can be called the "highroad" :confused:

Zak Smith
January 6, 2003, 12:35 AM
Sniper9, Welcome.
I'm still trying to understand how this can be called the "highroad"It's because we try to discuss and debate topics civilly using facts, reason, and principled arguments, and try to avoid ad hominem attacks and other logical fallacies.

regards
Zak

Rotorhead
January 6, 2003, 12:39 AM
Sniper9,

Welcome aboard, relax and stay awhile. Don't know if this board is going to be as good but it comes from the great roots of the TFL. Lots of us don't know what goes on in the LE world, but most of us have a great respect for you and yours doing your best. We will try to see things from your side dealing with the "bad element" all the time. But try to understand that most of us have only delt with LE for minor stuff. (2 speeding tickets in my 34 years) So its hard to understand felony stops, no knock raids etc esp when it seems to happen because of poor info, commo, etc. Stay Safe

Preacherman
January 6, 2003, 12:44 AM
Sniper9, there are many LEO's on this board, local, State and Federal (including myself). As I commented in my post on page 3 of this thread, I simply can't understand how a felony stop was even considered when no felony whatsoever had been reported! I think that this is the main point at issue here, and I'm sure you, as a fellow LEO, can understand how very, very difficult it would be for you (and how angry you would be!) if you were placed in a similar situation. Sure, there are those of our members who don't understand the pressures LEO's face: but there are many of us who understand all too well... Don't judge The High Road by one thread, or even one forum. Take a look around, and judge the place as a whole. Besides, you've now got the opportunity to make a serious contribution to helping us all understand better, from your own perspective! That's what The High Road is all about...

Fair 'n Square
January 6, 2003, 01:06 AM
Who was it that said the Smoaks should be offered a new puppy and an apology?

If some jackbooted cop shot my pet dog and then said "Oh, well, sorry, here's some money for a new dog," I would have a hard time restraining myself from kicking his behind up around his ears!

One more thing. Let's suppose the dog had not been shot. The very fact that the Smoaks were stopped and treated as they were should be grounds for a lawsuit. I'm offended that any LEO would defend the actions of the dopeheads that were in on that stop. I hope we get more feedback about how this turns out, and I hope some of those LEO's have to find new work as sanitation engineers.

KP95DAO
January 6, 2003, 01:36 AM
Well, Sniper9, welcome to the site. I for one am glad we have a real honest to goodness "been there, done that" law enforcement officer here to tell the rest of us dumb asses what we don't and never could understand about the day to day trials and tribulations of a street cop.

Of course I only babysit 308 felons five days a week so I realize I don't have a clue about the criminal mindset. I will happily look forward to your invaluable input.

jmbg29
January 6, 2003, 08:10 AM
Sniper9, there are many LEO's on this board, local, State and Federal (including myself). As I commented in my post on page 3 of this thread, I simply can't understand how a felony stop was even considered when no felony whatsoever had been reported!Father, don't you know that all of your constitutional rights, hopes, dreams, etc. go right out the window (or off the roof) when one makes a heinous mistake like leaving one's wallet on the roof after making a gasoline purchase?;)

Why a negligent act like that ought to earn all of the family an eternal dirtnap courtesy of Der Gruppenfuhrer & Co. Heil!

They probably thought the dog was a member of Al-Qaeda.:rolleyes: YOU DON'T KNOW ALL THE FACTS, Don't need to. Given the "FACTS" that Chief Wiggum, er Fife, uh I mean Terry was willing to admit to, I have all of the information that I need.

Where do you patrol Sniper9? I wan't to avoid getting shot.

Beren
January 6, 2003, 08:17 AM
Sniper9:

It's great to have you here. Yours is a viewpoint we could all benefit from. My point, and the point of many posters here, is a simple one:

The police had nothing to lose by closing the car doors as requested and everything to gain.

Why did they not do so, when told repeatedly that there were dogs in the car? The vehicle was stopped and the occupants secured. The car wasn't going anywhere. There were multiple police on the scene.

Surely someone could have closed the darn door.

Sure, if afterwards it is shown that an arrest is justified, call in animal control to secure the dogs - then search the car. That's perfectly fine, and I don't think anyone has a problem with that.

Most of the pain could have been averted had the police simply closed the car door.

peteinct
January 6, 2003, 08:55 AM
Hi everyone, These sort of incidents always get me worked up. I know that cops have a tough dangerous job and they have a roght to live through a vehicle stop. BUT SO DO I! I have as much right to live through an encounter with the the police as he/she does to live through an encounter with me.
pete

F4GIB
January 6, 2003, 10:08 AM
This is the core question here:

HOW COULD THE FAMILY HAVE PREVENTED THIS without DISOBEYING THE OFFICERS' INSTRUCTIONS AND RISKING PHYSICAL INJURY OR DEATH FROM THE OFFICERS???

I've asked it on several forums but none of the police officers have answered. Would someone here do so? Thanks.

Baba Louie
January 6, 2003, 10:40 AM
jmbg,

All it takes is a 911 phone call.

"Oh my gawd, officer; I just saw jmbg29 doing this or that (name your poison; drugs, guns, bombs, underage boy/girl in car, etc.) and you'd better stop him right now! PLEASE HURRY"

Dispatch takes the call and bingo, you're booty is cooked. At the least you'll need a lawyer to untangle your now very Kafka'esque existance.

"We have met the enemy, and he is us"; pogo

Sad but twue. America today. Land of the...

Adios

JohnBT
January 6, 2003, 11:07 AM
"Ever had cops all around you pointing their arms at you, READY and WAITING for some serious caca to occur? (I personally haven't thank you very much)"
_______

Yes. Broad daylight. Two unshaven clowns in a muddy Ford with no hubcaps followed me for about a half a mile from a little store to my parents' house. I stopped in front of the house when they hit the siren. They jumped out. One pointed his gun at me and my passenger through the rear window and the other through the driver's window.

They were doing an underage alcohol stakeout wanted to see the bottle of wine in the brown bag...it was a rolled up Playboy! They wanted to see the receipt. The store never gave them to anyone. They claimed they'd used the siren before and I was evading them - yeah, at 25 mph through a residential neighborhood to my parents' house on a deadend court.

You should have been there to see a dozen little kids surround them shouting "John, what's going on?"

You should have been there when my father, a former state trooper, got their supervisor on the line. He gave him a 15-minute tongue-lashing and never wished him a Merry Christmas either.
_____________

Back on topic.

I agree that peace officers deserve to go home at night.

I also believe that they work for us - all of us - and are required to use their brains before jumping to conclusions that can have dire consequences.

John


edited to add: Happened in Rockville, MD in 1971.

Master Blaster
January 6, 2003, 11:44 AM
Up until the Officer shot the dog I think proper procedures were followed reference the Felony stop. By no accounts from anyone present were the Troopers anything other than professional in their handling of the family during the stop. I would have used almost identical procedures up to the time the last family member was removed

Proper procedure?????? WHAT THE F***K what state do you work in tell me so I can stay clear and never drive through it.
The first thing a POLICE officere usually does is RUN THE LICENSE PLATE, You do have a radio in your car right?? they were following the car for a considerable distance, wouldnt a normal police officer run the plate for outstanding warrants, or to see if it was reported stollen?????

If they ran the license plate and compared it to the name and address on the license in the found wallet this whole incident would have never happened.

The shoot the doggie and ask questions later thing has gotten out of hand.

A few months ago in DE a K-9 officer shot a small mongrel (35lbs, part boxer) because the dog, who was in his own yard when the Gestapo/ err police came by with their doggy, had the nerve to Smell the K-9 officers TUSH, The officer said:

" he was going for the hindquarters of my Dog (a 95lb Shepherd)"

Yup like any dog I have ever seen he was trying to smell his butt, the officer responded with a .40cal, this was while the owner was standing there, along with his two children, right in their own backyard.

:what: :cuss:

ojibweindian
January 6, 2003, 01:25 PM
Anybody here want to go through this kind of experience because of leaving a wallet on the hood of your car? Not me.

I'm getting really tired of hearing/reading the litany of people getting screwed by the "police". Hang the whole f*****g lot of these guys.

JMLV
January 6, 2003, 02:20 PM
the officer in charge should be fired without his pension! as for the grinner who shot the dog.....well if it was my dog.........he would find himself with a 30 caliber earplug at a future date.
I don't know why some LEO's of late have declared war on the family pet but I for one am sick and tired of it. shoot my dog for no reason but that he exists and you too will soon know the defination of the 3 S's.
JMHO

SkySlash
January 6, 2003, 02:44 PM
Yup like any dog I have ever seen he was trying to smell his butt, the officer responded with a .40cal, this was while the owner was standing there, along with his two children, right in their own backyard.

And if anyone else did that, you'd put two in their chest out of fear that they'd gone mad, however, since it's the po-po you just stand there and take it because any deadly-force action for any reason against a police officer will get you in one of very few scenarios.

1. Shot by his partner(s) a total of 48 times, or more depending on whether or not they all have 50 or more rounds on them at the time.

2. The victim of police fabrication to prove you murdered the cop.

3. Out $1,000,000.00 in legal fees defending your life against fraudulent charges of a system gone mad.


Do I appreciate the police and what they do? Yes, absolutely. I even sent a check to the Texas State Troopers Association this morning to show that appreciation. I have a real problem with this kind of thing though, a real problem with the CYA tactics being used by police all over the country to pass it off as though they are never wrong in anything they do. PROCEDURE seems to be the word of the day and SENTIENT THOUGHT seems to be left on the bedstand once the gun and badge are pinned on for the days shift.

Personally, no bones about it, I'd just assume lose the cops and worry about the "criminal element by myself without them. I do that anyway, I carry a gun, and I keep one in my home just in case I or my family ever need to be protected from a criminal. I doubt I'll ever need to call the cops to come save me from a problem other than to serve as cleanup crew, but I've been a victim of overzealous policing more than once in my short life, and I have no doubt I will be again.

This entire situation was created by hellbent emotional response and wasn't based at all on any facts. All we have is a wallet found on the side of the road, that's all, and somehow that led to a dead family pet. Levying any responsibility on the family for that is childish. We have a family who was minding their own business, heading home from a vacation, and their lives were violently intruded upon by the THP and the local city police.

The LEO presence here wants me to believe this was somehow the fault of the Smoak family or of the "good samaritan" that called this in. I'm sorry, that just doesn't work, and I have done a ride-out before. First step in every stop? Plate gets run...seems like the entire situation could have been avoided had that simple step been taken. Instead, we have a dead family pet, and everyone involved is innocent.

Everything was done according to "procedure."

The police were "trained" to do it that way.

Out of a handful of cops, could someone have used their brain for 2 seconds and simply run the plate on the car to see if it matched the ID on the "stolen" wallet? Maybe, but that probably wouldn't be "procedure", and it probably wouldn't be as exciting as running a few people out of a gun at car point, and "procedure" must be followed above and beyond common sense.

I see the same thing taking place right now, today in Arlington, TX where I live, and in Ft. Worth, TX just up the road a piece.

A guy jumped off a bridge on 360 in Arlington. Cops said they had no clue why, wrote up a report and that was that. When asked if they tazed the suspect, they refused to comment on "ongoing investigations" and off the record said they didn't taze the guy. There was absolutely no mention of tazing the subject mere seconds before he went over the edge of the highway overpass. Unfortunately for the Arlington PD, a reporter snapped an excellent photo of an officer with a Tazer pointed at the suspect, the coil attached to both the device and attached to the jumpers side. The APD of course has no comment and will "look into it."

In Fort Worth a few nights ago, an undercover cop busted into a convenience store and ended up shot by the store owner. In the initial report, FWPD said that the officer WAS wearing a vest, DID identify herself as a police officer, WAS wearing proper ID, WAS NOT wearing a mask, and said she WAS entering the store to arrest a suspect that she sold $20 worth of crack to INSIDE the store.

Today, after serious questions into the outright lies told by the FWPD, they issued a revised report that stated the officer WAS NOT wearing a vest, that she DID NOT identify herself as a police officer, that she WAS NOT wearing proper ID, that she WAS wearing a mask, and that she WAS entering the store GUN DRAWN to arrest the suspect inside, but that the deal had actually taken place OUTSIDE the store. A total change of EVERY fact originally reported once they were called on their total fabrication of the events.

They also wanted to refer the case to the grand jury for charges against the shooter, but after being made out as liars and fools, they "might" reconsider that action.

That's in my neck of the woods, and that's the kind of departments I have to think about. Always looking out for themselves, and totally willing to protect their own by lying and fabricating the facts to absolve police of any possible wrongdoing. When the "Thin Blue Line" is no longer a threat to myself and my loved ones, perhaps I'll feel more respect for cops themselves. I respect what you guys do, and I respect the authority you represent, but I only respect the people behind the badges on a case by case basis.

I look at police with total suspicion and distrust until they prove worthy of better, just like they look at me.

-SS

jimpeel
January 6, 2003, 02:50 PM
I should hope that the family places a complaint before the FBI and Justice Department. This appears to be malfeasance. Of course, the hallmark of the FBI lately seems to be malfeasance but one can hold out hope.

TheeBadOne
January 6, 2003, 02:56 PM
A few simple points.
1) People keep mentioning that the plate should have been run. I'm sure it was. What does that matter? Did they have the actual wallet with ID in it? There was a report of money blowing around, and that it came from the guys lost wallet. Even if they had the wallet, it sounds like this was reported as a possible car jacking/abduction with both bad guys and victim in the same car. 2) car didn't come back stolen. Ever wonder how a car comes up with a stolen hit? It's not magic, it's paper work. A person (the registered owner) has to report in person to an officer the vehicle is stolen and sign in person so it can be entered in the computer system as stolen. If a car is recently stolen, as in it just happened a short time ago, it won't be in the system and won't come up with a hit.
3)we don't know who the car was registered to, the driver, a rental, a friend, a business, etc.
4)looks like a lot of people are assuming the police should have been able to see that there were dogs in the vehicle right away. Why? It sounds like the stop occured at night, perhaps they ever saw the dog until it exited the vehicle. We don't know, not enough information in the news article. There never is. If people are really curious to know more about what when on during an incident (other than being there) they should request a copy of the police reports. They usually aren't available until after a case is closed, but then anyone can ask for a copy in person at the appropriate agency and be given a copy. Makes for some interesting reading sometimes, especially if they include written statements from the people involved in the call, or witnesses.

Master Blaster
January 6, 2003, 04:06 PM
Even if they had the wallet, it sounds like this was reported as a possible car jacking/abduction with both bad guys and victim in the same car.

Please help me understand police tactics:

SO the SOP here when worried about hostages, and armed perps in the same car, is to yell over a bull horn get out one at a time while the cops are at a safe distance from the car???? and then take the time to handcuff each of the folks who got out, perp or victim??????

If they had been carjackers the armed perps could have opened fire from the back seat at the police, and the police would have returned fire, all while innocents were in the line of fire, and still in the car?????

My dogs, everyone I have ever owned, bark when a stranger approaches me my family or my car, so It would have been tough for the police to miss the dogs, I even see trained police dogs barking furiously when the car they are in is approached by a stranger.

This entire situation was created by hellbent emotional response and wasn't based at all on any facts. All we have is a wallet found on the side of the road, that's all, and somehow that led to a dead family pet Well said,

Its a miracle that the family was not shot by the over reacting police, when the driver reached for his wallet the police could have interrpreted it as a move for a weapon and opened up on everyone in the car.

These folks are lucky to be alive.


To refresh our memories as to how the police approached the dangerous car:

Quote:

"I immediately pulled to the side, and expecting him to come to the window, I started reaching for my wallet to get my license and it was not there," Smoak said.

About that time, he heard the officer broadcast orders over a bullhorn, telling him to toss the keys out the car window and get out with his hands up and walk backwards to the rear of the car.

Still not knowing what he was being stopped for, Smoak obeyed, and when he reached the back of the car, with a gun pointed at Smoak, the trooper ordered him to get on his knees, face the back of the car and put his head down.
End Quote.

TheeBadOne
January 6, 2003, 04:21 PM
Like you just showed by your review the cops didn't approach the vehicle, they spoke over a bullhorn from cover, thus the dogs didn't give themselves away by barking. All people from a high risk stop are cuffed, ALL, same as from a bank hostage situation as bad guys try to hide among the good. After everyone is cuffed then you can find out who is who. (no, this is not as easy as it sounds.)

Blackcloud6
January 6, 2003, 04:38 PM
Sniper9:

I understand what cops face. This situation has all the makings of a bad event. Police in the mentality of about to deal with a dangerous felon, a family with know clue what is about to (traumatically) happend to them, aggressive dogs., night time.

Its very hard to judge the actions of soemone in such an encounter when we have minutes hours days etc to ponder and he/she has less than a second. (My CCWW instructor emphasised this to us, that there will be lawyers taking years going over your actions that you had just a split second to decide or react to).

This is almost one of those training videos of shoot/don't shoot.

So, in your professional view, what could have been done procedure-wise and training-wise to prevent this?

I doubt if there are many cops out there who want to hurt innocent people or their property, lets take the high road and help them out. remeber, some day, they may just help you.

TheeBadOne
January 6, 2003, 04:43 PM
Blackcloud6

Damn fine post, very concise.

jmbg29
January 6, 2003, 05:01 PM
perhaps they ever saw the dog until it exited the vehicleIf that was the case, then whomever "cleared" the vehicle should be fired immediately.

Ninja felony stop, and they wouldn't be able to see a dog? This just keeps getting more and more ridiculous.:rolleyes: :fire: :banghead:

TheeBadOne
January 6, 2003, 05:03 PM
jmbg29

They never got to the point of clearing the vehicle when this happened.

UnknownSailor
January 6, 2003, 05:45 PM
Nice to see ya around, SkySlash. ARStechnica misses you. ;)

<aka Dietz>

Baba Louie
January 6, 2003, 06:09 PM
To continue the madness:D

If your car is jacked, and you're left in the vehicle as a hostage family, and the cops run your tag and see that the car belongs to XYZ family... AND if they know that XYZ's wallet has been found fluttering in the breeze on the roadside somewhere... AND they finally find a SAFE place to stop this potential FELONY!!!! (for all they know) and do light you up and pull you out of the car, how do they know who's who until THEY GET TOTAL CONTROL OF THE SITUATION?

For all the cops know, the guy driving the car may be a bad guy.

How do they know it's REALLY Mr. XYZ? He has no ID, remember?

Ever think a bad guy has lied to a cop? Nah.

Might a real bad guy have an accomplice in the back seat? Nah.

Has a cop EVER had a dog sicced on him/her by a bad guy? Nah.

Jeezuz. If you think you can do a better job, go get the job.

It's sad, it's tragic. Its a dog. Fouled up felony stops aren't that common, but I gather they do happen.

Walk a mile in the man's mocassins, then tell us how it feels.

Someone will pay, probably the THP and the locals, once the legal beagles have their day in court. Someone's career may be ruined and maybe he is truly a damned good police officer. At least he's out there taking the risk.

Maybe he shoulda just bent down and said good little doggy.

Maybe it was a carjacking and a citizen needed REAL Police assistance.

Maybe someone shoulda closed a door.

I wasn't there.

Were you?

Adios

alan
January 6, 2003, 06:16 PM
There was an account of this incident at www.wnd.com yesterday or the day before, which I read. It appears that the police involved showed absolutely the worst kind of "judgement".

Gila Jorge
January 6, 2003, 06:20 PM
Jack Booted thugs in action...simply protecting their butts. I would sue the bejabbers out of those illegimate sobs. I would own that friggin county and city.

shaved_reynolds
January 6, 2003, 06:21 PM
" how do they know who's who until THEY GET TOTAL CONTROL OF THE SITUATION? "

It's difficult to know who's who and get control of a situation when you're a Hillbilly Hick Cop (HHC) so backwards from inbreeding that all you know how to do is use that shotgun.

It was a bulldog...is the cop so much of a pussy that he can't control a bulldog without a shotgun?!? Apparently so. Come on folks...ever hear of mace? And don't give me the "you don't know how to react in a situation like this...it's tough being a cop... blah blah blah" bullsh*t. He screwed up BIGTIME and I wouldn't want him "protecting" or "serving" sh*t in the future.

The "officer" involved here NEEDS to lose his job. He NEEDS to be made an example. The Smoak family deserves to OWN his family...this "cop" deserves to be ruined. He'll have trouble sleeping at night knowing that A LOT of people want him ruined. Words do not express the punishment I would take on this "cop" and his family if he killed a member of my family in front of me.

cardboardkiller
January 6, 2003, 06:27 PM
How do you know that one of the cops hadn't ever had a dog sicced on him?

I stated it before and I'll state it again, A dog should be treated as a loaded weapon, if you don't want a loaded weapon to be available for use, LOCK IT UP. If the cop was scared enough to have to shoot the dog, why not shut the door and keep himself 99.9% safe from the dog? I only say 99.9% safe because I have seen a dog training academy video of a Doberman smashing out a car window to save his master from an "attack." Surely they are not any cops out there that have not worked with a K-9 unit or watched enough tv at some point in their lives to have seen one way or another what kind of damage a canine can inflict.

If you are that ignorant of the unpredictably dangerous twist that a dog can put on a situation, come over to my house, I'll put my dog in car with door open and you can try to manhandle me into a set of cuffs, you won't get the first one on before you have 110lbs of severly agitated dog on you that will in all reality deal you a broken arm before you can take a second breath.

shaved_reynolds
January 6, 2003, 06:37 PM
"If you are that ignorant of the unpredictably dangerous twist that a dog can put on a situation.."

So you're saying that the "cop" should have locked the door to the car? Well, then the HHC's are still at fault for f-ing up the entire thing...his family should still be owned.

And frankly, I have two 100+ lbs shepards...I know how to handle a dog;)

alan
January 6, 2003, 06:56 PM
From what I recall reading in the WND piece I mentioned, the lady of the family that was stoped asked the cops to close the car doors, so that the dog or dogs could not get out. They didn't do as she asked, perhaps being to excited by the opportunity to show who was boss, as with waving guns around and ordering people to get to their knees, all that happy "stuff".

Possibly fortunate that it was just a dog that got it's head blown away. Eventually, this fiasco will get straightened out, likely via an "undisclosed settlement".

Sniper9
January 6, 2003, 07:26 PM
Zak Smith: There seems to be a lot of juvenile name calling and steroetyping here, thus my confusion regarding the name of the site.

KP95DOA: Your sarcasm is duly noted. I have nothing but respect for the COs I work with. Hope you have a better day at work tomorrow.

The point I was trying to make is simple. When I closed on my house the paperwork and procedures were somewhat confusing to me. I asked a lot of questions and my attorney did his best to make me understand everything I needed to, but by no stretch of the imagination did this make me an attorney, put me in a position to tell my attorney how to do his job, or actually do my attorney's job. AND I WAS THERE.

NONE of us were there on this felony stop. Who are we to pick this apart? A lot of you make some pretty ignorant assumptions based on what very little you know about this one call.

Answer these:

1)What kind of car were they in?
2)What exactly did the caller tell 911 he/she witnessed?
3)Was that information accurately/timely relayed to units?
4)Was DMV able to provide reg. info in a timely manner (this is more of a common problem than most of you would think)
5)Depending on #2 what would running the plate have accomplished?
6) where exactly did the stop take place, how much traffic/bystanders was there?
7) What were the lighting conditions?
8) how long did this stop take from start to finish?
9) what were the weather conditions
10) If the family was upset, how were they behaving/reacting?


MaterBlaster; your question "SO the SOP here when worried about hostages, and armed perps in the same car, is to yell over a bull horn get out one at a time while the cops are at a safe distance from the car???? and then take the time to handcuff each of the folks who got out, perp or victim??????"

The answer is "basically yes"
I've conducted felony stops (one with an armed hostage taker (gun),an accomplice and two hostages, that started with a 911 call from a third party, just as you described) and I assist in instructing them at the academy. A felony stop is not an investigation. straight from my SOPs - " the objective of a felony stop is to protect the lives of both the civilian and the officer. The officer's duty is to control the stop at all times without the threat of injury to himself or others, but be able to apply deadly force to the suspect if necessary" Most of them go well, some of them don't.. life ain't perfect, neither am I. Neither or you. And there are A LOT of other things going on during such stops for reasons it would take me hours to explain. That's why cops are trained at an academy. This isn't something you learn watching TV or surfing the net. Or working a cell block btw - KP95DOA

I don't know why the felony stop was called out, I don't know why the door wasn't shut, I don't know why someone forgot their wallet on the hood of their car/truck/van/suv, I don't know what the caller told 911, I don't know what 911 told the 1st dispatched officer and I don't know what he relayed to other officers on the scene. I also don't know any of the answers to the above questions. And I don't know what could have been done differently mainly because I wasn't there to see what was or wasn't done in the first place.

You know what people? Sometimes even when you do everything right, something goes wrong.

My two cents, keep the change.

cardboardkiller
January 6, 2003, 07:27 PM
So you're saying that the "cop" should have locked the door to the car? Well, then the HHC's are still at fault for f-ing up the entire thing...his family should still be owned.

If you'll read my post again, that is exactly what I said, except for locking the door.

F4GIB
January 6, 2003, 07:35 PM
This remains the core question here. I'll keep asking it until it's answered (now asked twice here and 4 times on GlockTalk). I'm not an LEO so I need guidence.

ONCE THE BLUE LIGHTS CAME ON, HOW COULD THE SMOAK FAMILY HAVE PREVENTED THIS without DISOBEYING THE OFFICERS' INSTRUCTIONS AND RISKING PHYSICAL INJURY OR DEATH FROM THE POLICE OFFICERS???

cardboardkiller
January 6, 2003, 07:43 PM
Sniper9,

Answer me this, I could care less about the weather conditions, the VIN number or even where the stop took place. Why wasn't the door closed? I don't buy the "in the heat of the moment" BS, supposedly cops are trained to act in situations way outside the ordinary. If these cops can't secure a car, you can't expect me to believe they didn't see the dogs in the car when they pulled the Smoaks over or while they were dragging them out of the car, how would they react in a situation where a perp was on the loose in a neighborhood or made it into someone's house where there were innocent bystanders?

I'm a part-time firefighter and I have to be on my guard at all times, regardless of what time it is, what the weather is doing, how much info and what type of info I was given about the call. If I couldn't keep my wits doing a job that on a daily basis that in my opinion is at least as dangerous if not more so than the average police officer faces everyday, I wouldn't have made it 7 years so far. You have to go into a situation expecting the worst, I'm not faulting the cops for that, but you must cover all you bases or you or someone else will end up dead, this is where the cops failed miserably.

Blackhawk
January 6, 2003, 07:47 PM
Sniper9,

Some of the anti-LEO attitudes on this and just about every other gun board I've visited, bother me a LOT. I don't really understand them either, except that perhaps LEOs are the face some people put with laws they know are unfair, unjust, and just downright unConstitutional. Consequently, whenever something goes wrong, these ignorant people start shouting "Jack Booted Thugs" and all kinds of other epithets about ALL LEOs.

Some LEOs are jerks, just as some in any occupation you can find are, but the LEO bashers seem to have a peculiar animus toward all police, and that bothers and worries me.

Hope you'll stick around. You write well, and maybe you can help some of the folks around here. :D

BTW, this incident must have happened at night because of the flashlight angle. Smoaks said they played with the dog using a flashlight beam, etc. In that case, the LEOs closing the car door would have also turned off the interior light. Not a good thing for a felony stop in progress....

Blackhawk
January 6, 2003, 07:56 PM
F4G1B,ONCE THE BLUE LIGHTS CAME ON, HOW COULD THE SMOAK FAMILY HAVE PREVENTED THIS without DISOBEYING THE OFFICERS' INSTRUCTIONS AND RISKING PHYSICAL INJURY OR DEATH FROM THE POLICE OFFICERS??? Are you assuming that the Smoaks traveled from NC to TN without ever having to let the dogs out? If not, they surely must have had leashes, ropes, etc., to maintain control of the dogs and comply with the ubiquitous leash laws, doncha think?

The Smoaks could have prevented this simply by securing the dogs with their leashes just like they probably did dozens of times during their trip.

"But the dog, the big one, could have easily broken the leash and gotten out," you wail. If so, wouldn't the dog have then proven himself to be a dog that would have had to be shot when he did because attack would have been his mode?

The first cruiser followed the Smoaks for a long while before stopping them. They KNEW he was on THEIR case. They had plenty of time to secure the dogs then, and they had plenty of time to secure the dogs after the blue light special opened up. Smoaks wasn't ordered out of the car instantly. He had time to mess with his keys and discover his wallet wasn't there. How much time does it take to "Put the leash on General Patton" anyway?

Cal4D4
January 6, 2003, 08:11 PM
I gotta comment directly to all LEO defenders of this mess (drat!):

The ONLY reason police/John Q. Public interactions are not Dodge City is because we put our TRUST in what you and the badge represent. You are the only ones we allow to violate our most precious right of freedom. We do not have a say in your felony stop procedures, and to quote Sniper9:

"The officer's duty is to control the stop at all times without the threat of injury to himself or others, but be able to apply deadly force to the suspect if necessary"

We allow you to "get the drop on us" willingly with the understanding that as innocent US citizens we have nothing to fear. We don't need to really worry that Ma and Pa Kettle may profile like serial snipers because we are innocent. All the details of what YOU could be facing are not an issue here. That is up to procedures and training. These failed miserably. We are obedient and as F4GIB questioned, what could we have realistically done different without you applying deadly force? You were given control of the situation at gunpoint. Each generation, the respect for the badge is being augmented by bigger and bigger doses of fear of the badge. In return, the uniform is being supplemented by better and better body armor and better equiped SWAT teams. See a relationship? Do you teach those officers on the scene to keep their fingers out of the trigger guard? Are they fired or retrained if they violate that? There are some similarities to current LEO development and some pretty scary historical police states. You are still a civilian force. Do you have a them and us attitude? Absolutely no personal attack in any of this, but the emphasis in some of the allegedly LEO replies seems very off the mark.

cardboardkiller
January 6, 2003, 08:47 PM
How do know that they had anything to secure the dogs to? Short of putting the leash on my dog and then running the seatbelt through it I can't think of another way to secure a dog in a car. What if they were in the back of a station wagon or SUV? Should the 17 year old jumped into the cargo area and tied the dogs to whatever there might be back there? You think the cops were agitated before the car even pulled over, just wait until they see a body digging around in the rear of a vehicle. The Smoaks probably had no idea they would even be asked to get out of the car, much less ordered out and handcuffed at gunpoint.

The last thing I am going to do when pulled over is move until the cop gets to the door and tells me what he wants. But the first thing I am going to do if I have to get out of the car is make sure that the officer knows that I have a dog in the car, if he is dumb enough not to see her, and that I need to shut the door so as to protect him from my dog and myself and her from whatever fit the cop my fly into if my dog turns into a .45 on legs. My dog has been personal protection trained and I have had to inform more than one person of that as they approached the car without my consent.

The average person is ignorant enough about dogs, but you would think that an LEO would have slightly more sense, I guess not.

Sniper9
January 6, 2003, 09:42 PM
Cardboardkiller - I don't know why the door wasn't shut and neither do you, or anyone else on this thread b/c none of us were there! If you think the "heat of the moment" thing is BS (your words) then perhaps your a better man than I. I can tell countless first hand stories regarding tunnel-vision and adrenalin rushes and their effects during pursuits, disturbances, hostage situations, v&t stops, felony stops, fights, warrant executions, and yes even fires. I've been a full-time cop for over 7 yrs, a swat sniper & evoc instructor. I am currently assigned to the warrants investigation unit, executing felony warrants on a daily basis. I know a little bit.

F4GIB - The answer you're looking for is - short of securing their dogs prior to being stopped, probably nothing. Life isn't perfect.

Anyone ever wonder why Doctors say they are "practicing" medicine? The same reason we are practicing law...it takes a lot of practice.

Good day gentlemen...

Zak Smith
January 6, 2003, 10:09 PM
Sniper9,

I, for one, and probably others here, do not necessarily question the tactics used on this felony stop. I'm not a tactics expert and don't pretend to be in this argument. As I think Blackhawk said, once the LEOs and Smoaks were on the scene and were "dealt their cards", it pretty much had to turn out how it did. Whether or not someone could have closed a door or tethered their dog, or if the second Smoak's car could have stopped by and said "What's going on officer, those are my kids!" is minutia compared to the problem posed here.

However, I object strongly to two things relating to how it came to start there:

1. That it was a felony stop. Where's the felony, again? Whoever "promoted" this incident to a felony stop was responsible for the high level of force employed. These are essentially the people who "gave the orders."

2. That the LEOs responding did not personally ensure that their use of force was justified. Even though they were ordered to do so, the officers have responsibility to make sure what they're doing is justified. "Following orders" doesn't cut it.

To make an analogy to one of our favorite topics: no-knock raids. It doesn't matter if 100% perfect entry tactics were employed during a no-knock, if you hit the wrong house. In that scenario, everyone in the chain of command that brought it about must be held accountable.

-z

Cal4D4
January 6, 2003, 10:12 PM
Sniper9:

To use the doctor analogy again, the first rule in medicine is to do no harm.

TheeBadOne
January 6, 2003, 11:38 PM
This has gone way past trying to make it simple. The same questions have been asked and answered a dozen times over. People who are entrenched in a stance don't want to be dug out. Here is one last attempt to add a bit of clarity to calls like this.
Stop being hung up on the Felony stop. (Because all we get are, "Where's the Felony"). The term Felony stop is not accurate anyhow, it's just a short cut in terms to get people to understand how serious a stop is taken.
The correct term is High Risk Traffic Stop. As this designates, the stop is either of a know high risk situation (ie: felony) or has sufficent circumstances, both known and unknown to warrant causion. With all the info both given and missing a High Risk Traffic stop was warranted. Peace

Zak Smith
January 6, 2003, 11:47 PM
It's not called a "Felony Stop"? Okay.

The jist of our objection is the same: severe escalation of force due to poor and unsubstantiated information.

-z

cardboardkiller
January 6, 2003, 11:56 PM
Sniper9,

I guess my time on duty hasn't been as long as yours, but I'll wager rescuing a womans baby from a burning house and getting it outside only to have its head fall off or dragging one of my fellow firefighters out after the ceiling had fallen on him and knocked him unconscious while a third of the house collapsed behind us or venting a roof and having a geyser of flame shoot out of the whirly-bird behind me melt the letters off of my coat, from some chemicals stored in the attic or when I broke 2 ribs wrestling down a roofers propane bottle that had blown its relief valve and threatened to take my partner and I off of a 2nd story roof are a good deal more exciting than your average civil servant endures. I can give you first hand accounts and war stories, that all involve something unpredictable, dangerous, that can't be reasoned with and doesn't fear a badge. During all this and more than a few others I did one thing, I kept my head and everyone that was alive and with me stayed alive and with me.

Zak Smith
January 7, 2003, 12:03 AM
Why not execute a "High Risk Traffic Stop" for every traffic stop? How about every time an Officer contacts any citizen? (Surely it would make it safer for the LEOs, right?)

But we don't. Do we not do so at the pleasure of Law Enforcement, or do we not do so because it is a violation of rights and an offense to freedom?

If it is the former, then the police are free to bring to bear any level of force anytime they please - in short, a police state.

If it is the latter, then that violation of rights and freedom must be justified - based on something the person actually did. In this case, there was no evidence of any wrong-doing by the Smoaks, only the assumption of a hypothesis by some random person on the freeway.

-z

ravinraven
January 7, 2003, 12:34 AM
Gee. This out of control cop thing is a great case for the ACLU. No. Sorry. Guess not. The ACLU is too dam busy with its war on Christmas and with enabling perverts to publish books on how to molest your kids. Guess you'll just have to grin and forget it.

[ACLU = American Constitutional Liberty Underminers]

OF
January 7, 2003, 12:36 AM
The mental gymnastics that some of the people on this thread are going through to place even one iota of the blame for this incident on the family is truly amazing to witness.

'Negligence contributions'??!! Close the door? And risk being shot for the 'furtive movement'? Sounds like a great idea. Leash the dogs inside the car? And what? Tie them to headrests? Why? In anticipation of being removed from the vehicle at gunpoint and cuffed? You have got to be kidding me.

It is not the citizens responsibility to prepare for interaction with law enforcement. Law enforcement is NOT the POINT of society. We do not structure our lives around avoiding or preparing for contact with the police.

It disturbs me to no end to hear people defending the actions of these officers. It is equally disturbing to hear people paint those who are disgusted with the conduct of these officers as 'anti-LEO'.

- Gabe :fire:

Blackhawk
January 7, 2003, 12:40 AM
This dead horse is getting a bit putrid. Since there doesn't seem to be anything new to add, isn't it about time to bury it?

CZ-75
January 7, 2003, 01:28 AM
Some of the anti-LEO attitudes on this and just about every other gun board I've visited, bother me a LOT. I don't really understand them either, except that perhaps LEOs are the face some people put with laws they know are unfair, unjust, and just downright unConstitutional.

Consequently, whenever something goes wrong, these ignorant people start shouting "Jack Booted Thugs" and all kinds of other epithets about ALL LEOs.

Personally, the JBT sobriquet would only apply to someone who seemed to get a thrill out of shooting a dog. I suspect it's a nice stand-in for a person. Perhaps he's one of those LEOs whose badge would be jeopardized by the Lautenberg domestic violence law, and rightly so. Even worse, a sadist and possible Ted Bundy type, only with a badge.

I'm quite bothered, by the same token, by these pro-LEO, blame-the-victim attitudes. Neither I, nor any other FREE CITIZEN, exist at the pleasure of, or to serve, LEOs (it is the other way around, for the most part, fundamentally). Hence, it isn't my job to ensure that these officers have a nice day or that I suffer being treated like a criminal to ensure their safety. They're big boys and know (or should know) what they're getting into.

If they can't perform their duties w/o trampling on the rights of others, then they should seek other employment, rather than bitch about low pay, the inherent dangers, and general lack of respect. I'd submit that you reap what you sow; treat the public with respect to get respect. I'd further posit that LEOs aren't entitled to any more respect than anyone else, unless they earn it. Going to the academy or local junior college doesn't constitute sufficient grounds for respect, in my book. Neither does the danger. I might as well genuflect before tightrope walkers, were that the case

Back to the incident, though. We can see that not a lot of thought went into making this stop. My question though, is couldn't the officers present have developed a little more strategy? When you have the victims...mmm..."suspects" in the car, couldn't a little brainstorming take place? Assuming the passengers weren't fidgeting and turning around inside the car, the cops have an automatic drop on them, since the Smoaks have their backs to the officers. Worst that could happen at this point is that the car takes off, unless the Smoaks are mutants with eyes in the back of their heads, or trick shots.

I agree somewhat with Sniper9 about not being there and the contributing conditions, but some common sense needs to be interspersed with procedure, and a little planning, with what would appear to be suspects making no overt and immediate threats, would go a long way, since action beats reaction.

Examples of common sense would include assessing the dog's body language, since this is highly ritualized among canines, as well as the type of dog involved (Do you use a 12ga. on a toy poodle, a puppy? What is the danger presented by these?). Somehow, bulldogs don't qualify for a high threat status in my eyes, and certainly not one that oleo-capiscum can't mitigate.

One might argue that this is bunk, but substitute "human" for "dog," and see if you get the same sort of support for being trigger-happy. Does a little old lady present the same threat as a 230lbs. muscular male, and should they be treated the same? Would you blow away grandma if her hearing aid was dead and she started towards you b/c she didn't hear the bullhorn?

Lastly, attitude is everything. Had the cops been apologetic about killing the dog, rather than smirking and giving high fives for turning "savage" General Patton's (even the name sounds dangerous :rolleyes: ) head into doggy hamburger, I might understand the mistake, no matter how bone-headed. I suspect had the officer in question been a man and had gone to the family to apologize (not to mention the apologies owed the family by all LEOs involved), they just might have understood, to some extent.



FWIW, if animals are only "property," then why the laws about cruelty? You can dispose of other property pretty much as you see fit, unless there is some danger involved. Why not animals, too? Why do they get status different from other property?

CZ-75
January 7, 2003, 01:37 AM
This dead horse is getting a bit putrid. Since there doesn't seem to be anything new to add, isn't it about time to bury it?

I'd say that too, if I couldn't flog it hard enough to run in the direction I wanted. :rolleyes:

mrat
January 7, 2003, 04:17 AM
After all, he joined the force to feel the power. Otherwise he'd have gone to college.

F4GIB,
I wunted to go to colege but Pa sed I hat to go to wurk. I wish I did cuz that wuld make my reeports that much beter. Tho I wus thee best writter in thee acadamy.

I see you haven't changed. Have you ever wondered why most of the LEOs on gun boards ignore you?

Sniper9
January 7, 2003, 06:12 AM
Cardboardkiller, My intent was not to compare the dangers of our chosen fields, I know all too well the dangers associated with both and have nothing but respect and thankfullness for all of those involved in public safety...LE, FIRE & EMS alike. I refuse to go tit-for-tat with anyone, that wasn't my point

My point is this...for the same reason most people don't FULLY understand why you guys have to bring 8 trucks to a mva or smash the bejesus out of someones windows and roofs for a little fire..most people don't fully understand exactly why we do what we do all the time. The jobs are similiar, but they are far from the same. If someone were injured in a fire I couldn't even fathom getting online and second guessing a ff's actions, especially when I don't have either the benefit of being a trained ff or at the very least, the experience of having been there myself.

Every call is different, every call is the same.


You guys can continue to beat this to death without me,
I'm done with this thread.

TheeBadOne
January 7, 2003, 06:40 AM
On another firefighter note, we know all firemen are not theives just because some have taken items from the homes they fought to save. Their not all drunks either. If I was a hater of firemen (and I'm not, I support our guys) I could keep banging away on these two points...:rolleyes: Much like many posters have here.

KP95DAO
January 7, 2003, 07:52 AM
Sniper9,

I wonder if controling a "felonly stop" is anything like controling up to several hundred pissed off convicts. The only difference I can see is that I know whom I am dealing with and I don't have a firearm to help "convince" people that what I say is in their best interest.

The trouble with this stop and it's aftermath is that they are trying to sweep their true actions under the rug. The thing is there are too many of us who know dirt when we see it. And the reason we know it is that we have either seen it first hand, done it ourselves, or have had a close friend or relative who has gone through it.

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