(CNN)Shortly after Tennessee law enforcementshot and killed a man during a two-county vehicle chase in April, White County Sheriff Oddie Shoupe seemed fired up as he recalled his conversations with dispatchers.
Shoupe later says of the chase, “I love this s***. God, I tell you what, I thrive on it.”
The comments, recorded April 13 after the sheriff arrived at the scene where officers shot and killed Michael Dial on the side of State Route 111, are at the centerof a federal lawsuit filed last week by Dial’s widow against White County, Shoupe and others.
The widow, Robyn Spainhoward, alleges that a White County sheriff’s deputy and a Sparta police officer used excessive force to kill Dial, 33, of Clarksville, Tennessee.
Shoupe, in the body-camera video, says he was in another part of the county during the chase but gave orders to dispatchers that would be relayed to the pursuing officers.
In the video, he says he “gave the order to take him out because he (Dial) was going to kill somebody if we hadn’t.”
District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway did not return CNN’s calls for comment about the case.
The lawsuit, which seeks up to $10 million, alleges that the sheriff ordered the shooting “solely to prevent damage to patrol cars.” The suit, filed in US District Court in Nashville, cites Shoupe’s comments lamenting damage to his vehicles for part of its argument.
“I feel with every part of me, that’s exactly what they wanted to do, was kill him,” Spainhoward told WTVF. CNN tried to contact Spainhoward through her attorney but he said she wasn’t granting any more interviews.
Citing the lawsuit, Melissa Worthington, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said Shoupe and his department would not comment.
White County Executive Denny Robinson and Sparta Police Chief Jeff Guth also declined to comment.
‘Use deadly force if necessary’
The chase began on a late April afternoon when police in Smithville, in DeKalb County some 55 miles southeast of Nashville, tried to pull Dial over on suspicion of driving with a suspended license, according to the lawsuit.
Dial, in a pickup towing a loaded, open-air trailer, kept driving. He’d been in Smithville for a flea market, Spainhoward told CNN affiliate WKRN in April.
When Dial went east into adjacent White County, Sparta police and White County sheriff’s deputies picked up the chase. Dashboard and body-camera videos obtained by CNN show squad cars trying to force the truck off the road or get it to stop, by running into it or cutting it off.
The truck and patrol cars came into contact several times as Dial headed north on Route 111, the truck at times weaving, and items spilling out of the trailer. Despite being forced into the median at one point, Dial kept going.
The lawsuit says Dial was driving around 50 mph, and “at no point after turning onto Highway 111 did Dial pose a threat to any members of the public.”
But deputies are heard telling dispatchers that at least one officer’s vehicle had been disabled.
“I gave the order to take him (Dial) out because he was going to kill somebody if we hadn’t,” Shoupe says during a phone call in the body-camera footage. “I’m telling you … this is a hell of a pursuit. I mean, he meant to kill some people.”
“Anyway, sir, I just wanted to let you know that I hate it, but that’s what we do,” he says before ending the call.
He later tells an officer in the car: “If they don’t think I’ll give the damn order to kill that mother*****, they full of s***.”
After lamenting that he was on the “wrong end of the county” during the chase, Shoupe delivers one of the quotes that the lawsuithighlights:
“I love this s***. God, I tell you what, I thrive on it.”
Then Shoupe, once again, refers to Dial as a threat.
“He was going to kill somebody,” the sheriff says.
‘I don’t know how you can thrive on taking a human life’
Attorney David Weissman, who represents Spainhoward in the lawsuit, told WTVF that Dial did not have a weapon and that the shooting was unjustified. In an interview with TV station, he referred to Shoupe’s “thrive” comment.
Bodycam video shows Tennessee police open fire
“I don’t know how you can thrive on taking a human life,” Weissman said. “That’s not law enforcement.”
He also pointed to Shoupe’s comments about the patrol cars, asserting they show he was more concerned about the vehicles than Dial’s life.
“If that’s the mentality of the highest policymaker in the county, that’s scary,” the lawyer told WTVF.
The lawsuit alleges Shoupe shouldn’t have given the deadly-force order, in part because the sheriff wasn’t at the scene.
“The decision to order the use of deadly force when not physically present to evaluate the situation speaks volumes as to the malicious and sadistic mindset of Sheriff Shoupe,” the lawsuit reads.
Dunaway, the district attorney for an area that includes White County, ruled the shooting justified, saying in part that Dial posed a danger to law enforcement and other citizens, and that his truck was going back up the embankment toward the Sparta police officer’s vehicle, WTVF reported.
But Spainhoward has said she doesn’t believe her husband needed to die.
“They could have let him go 10 more miles down the road. He probably would have run out of gas,” she told WTVF.