Officer Tyrel Lorenz of the Lenoir City police department is on “paid administrative leave” after he shot and killed an unarmed man, pumping several bullets into his head and back at arms-length range.
The slaying of an inebriated man who’d been chauffering two intoxicated friends in a pickup truck March 13 is a problem whose remedy will bring Tennessee and other American cities back toward a local economy concept of peacekeeping and a major de-escalation in gangland-style violence.
By David Tulis
“Lorenz commanded the driver to stop several times before Lorenz somehow ended up in the back bed of the pickup truck,” a news release states. “Once in the truck bed Lorenz was still yelling at the driver to stop. It was after Lorenz was in the bed of the pickup and the truck was speeding away that Lorenz apparently shot the driver of the truck.”
Dead is a young man, William Grubb of Clinton, Tenn.
The truck kept moving with the dead man at the wheel. “The pickup traveled into oncoming traffic down the wrong side of the four-lane divided highway and across the overpass above Interstate 75 before it struck a utility pole, less than a mile from convenience store, authorities said,” according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “Lorenz, who was not hurt, immediately began to render first aid to Grubb, who had been shot multiple times, the release states. Grubb was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS personnel.”
Need for total control
The killing of a man innocent of any capital offense by a state actor tells us something about the use-of-force training that Tennessee police officers receive. A cop judges troubling situations with reasons for escalating and justifying his use of force. A killing must be rational prior to the pulling of the trigger. His training allows him afterward to justify his actions and pull over himself the carapace of qualified immunity.
Clearly what Mr. Lorenz could not do is lose control of the situation and to negotiate with Mr. Grubb a stopping of the pickup truck. Despite the passive voice used in the press release, Officer Lorenz jumped onto the bed of the truck as Mr. Grubb affected his escape from Bimbo’s convenience store, where he had stopped for fuel.
And now, in the truck bed with the driver just in front of him in the cab, what is he to do? He orders the driver to stop but Mr. Grubb doesn’t. The officer shouts and demands, but the driver keeps going. So Mr. Lorenz pulls his pistol, aims at the driver’s head and back, and pulls the trigger. It’s not clear whether the cab back sliding window was closed. Regardless, the bullets travel 2 feet and slash through skull, flesh and bone. A near-dead man at the wheel, the pickup roars some little distance before it hits a utility pole.
Not listening to a cop is not a capital offense. Kidnapping is not a capital offense. DUI is not a capital offense. Yet Officer Lorenz kills Mr. Grubb because he is not in command of the situation, and it is beneath him to improvise, cajole, argue with or discuss the dilemma with the driver in front of him in the truck cab that dark Sunday morning just after midnight.
It is beneath the dignity of the officer just to sit in the bed of the truck and wait a few minutes for Mr. Grubb to think more clearly about the mess into which he’s gotten himself. In the officer’s mind, being in a vehicle controlled by a DUI suspect brings within seconds the ultimate and necessary solution: Death of the offender. Nothing less than slaying citizen will save the life of the officer. If the cop doesn’t shoot, the officer’s life is surely forfeit — an innocent policeman will surely die. And Mr. Lorenz draws his pistol, unlatches the safety, and fires several times into the back of the pickup driver.
There’s no indication that Mr. Grubb is driving the truck violently in such a way as to throw the beetle in the back out onto a roadside embankment or dump him by stop-starts into the middle of the road. But Mr. Lorenz acts as if his life is immediately in danger and that there’s no treating with Mr. Grubb to get him to stop.
The trauma of the event is all on the side of the officers and their handlers. The bloodletting is a mere cap on a far more significant event, the refusal of Mr. Grubb to stop. “This is the thing that you never want to happen in your career is to have to use deadly force,” police chief Don White says. “It’s unfortunate; but everybody’s managing and we’re going to get through it.”
What does local economy say?
The idea of local self-government, the rule of law, prosperity and capital are revolted by such abuse and such highly protected uses of extra-legal violence. Mr. Lorenz is resting on paid vacation while his department tries to sew up his innocence and smear Mr. Grubb in the press to give the public the impression that he had been a malefactor. Mr. Grubb is reported to have committed paperwork offenses such as DUI and “driving on revoked.”
Local economy prospers when every man’s life is protected, even if he is committing a tort and even if he is injecting a little more excitement into an officer’s life than the cop had expected at the start of his shift.
Lethal force is bound by law. Judges and juries can execute capital offenders lawfully if the perpetrator is lawfully convicted by multiple testimony and corroborating evidence. A citizen can kill an intruder in his house at night, pursuant to biblical law. A rapist can be stabbed to death if his victim can reach her scissors on her nightstand.
The officer will claim he “feared for his life” and so on, and no one will expect him to have tried any local economy tactics. Yes, local economy tactics are personal conversation, bartering, negotiating, looking out for the interest of the other, making the other person successful. Mr. Grubb is, in fact, a member of the public, and so the customer of Mr. Lorenz and his department. Mr. Grubb may have some sales resistance, but he should be convinced it is in his own interest to stop the truck, get out, chat a bit, and then let the officer drive the truck back to the convenience store so he can affect a citation or an arrest.
Stiff self-interest vs. mercy
This intercourse is not on the verge of a killing or a death. It is about being forbearing, being patient, looking out for the interest of another whose reasoning may have been clouded by a beer or two too many.
This requirement prospers local economy. Its rejection starves local economy and brings much agony and hurt. Until cops are finally replaced by apps and the “sharing economy,” we must encourage them not to view people as the enemy, as full of wicked and murderous intent.
Local economy allows for the mercies described in Proverbs. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 17:9).
Such thinking is the fruit of the gospel, a fruit more easily tasted in a culture affected by the Word of God and the teachings of grace and forgiveness.
Officer Lorenz and his agency will play the victim card and not regret the loss of life too much, because if they do they lose their larger point — that Mr. Grubb had it coming, and that his folly was deservedly lethal.
But the dead man is the victim. National economy again marks a triumph against the local. The national police state, again, wins against a more humane and more cautious local economy.
Sources: Hayes Hickman, “Lenoir City officer on paid leave following fatal shooting,” March 14, 2016, Knoxville News Sentinel. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/crime-courts/two-charged-after-fatal-shooting-by-officer-of-suspected-dui-driver-2e009a69-2a0a-2052-e053-0100007f-371993001.html