It was the judgment the Smoak family was hoping for, but not the kind they ever wanted to hear.
A federal jury awarded James Smoak $9,100 and found Sgt. David Bush guilty of using excessive force against Smoak.
The case stemmed from a traffic stop on New Year’s day in 2003, when the Tennessee Highway Patrol stopped the family on Interstate 40.
Mistaken as robbery suspects the Smoaks were forced out of their vehicle as a patrol car video captured the disturbing events that transpired.
The video shows the family’s pleas of protest that they were just vacationing and passing through on their return trip home to North Carolina.
The Smoaks then plead with the officers to close their car door. Their 55-pound mix breed bulldog, General Patton, was still inside.
“I got a dog in the car and I don’t want him to come out,” James Smoak’s voice is heard on the video.
But in the process, Patton escapes the car and can be scene on the side of the road wagging his tail. In a matter of seconds, a Cookville police officer shot the pet with a shot gun at close range.
Smoak tried to help his dog but he’s forced to the ground and injured by highway patrol Sgt. Bush. General Patton died on the spot and Smoak was lead to a waiting patrol car, crying “you shot my dog, you shot my dog! Oh, my God!”
The federal jury’s verdict settles the issue of excessive force used by Bush of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
The city of Cookeville compensated the family more than $77,000 for their officer’s actions in a separate lawsuit.
Jerry Andrews, a lieutenant at the time of the incident, was also named in the case, but found not responsible, while Bush was the trooper responsible for handcuffing Smoak.