Thursday, September 3, 2009
Appeals Court Rules on Cookeville Dog Shooting Case
A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling in favor of a family whose dog was shot by a police officer in Cookeville during a 2003 traffic stop. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in a ruling released Thursday denied an appeal by David Bush, a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer who was found guilty of excessive force when restraining driver James Smoak. While the family was ordered to kneel on the highway shoulder, their dog escaped from the vehicle through an open door. Cookeville police officer Eric Hall shot the 55-pound mixed breed pit bull, which could be seen wagging its tail in the video. Hall said he thought the dog was about to attack. A federal jury in 2008 awarded the family $9,000 in compensatory damages and $192,000 in attorney's fees. The Smoaks settled with the city of Cookeville for $77,500 in a separate lawsuit.