A Tennessee grand jury has excused a police officer’s execution of a driver in a runaway pickup truck.
Loudon County district attorney Russell Johnson says he presented the entire case to a grand jury. It cleared Tyrel Lorenz in a back-of-the-skull execution March 13 of Joshua William Grubb.
By David Tulis / AM 1240 Hot News Talk Radio
The district attorney in a meeting with a grand jury explained the nine-shot fusillade that officer Lorenz fired into the back of Mr. Grubb, 30, of Clinton, who was at the wheel of what the officer perceived to be a runaway pickup truck on Highway 321 in Lenoir City near Interstate 75. It issued a no-true bill April 12 on charges of voluntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, criminally neglect homicide and official misconduct.
“He reacted in an attempt to stop the truck and then once he was in the back of the truck, his life and other lives were in danger and that’s why he fired the shots,” Mr. Johnson said.
The city settled with the family of the victim. The late August settlement for an undisclosed amount is in “six figures,” according to the family’s attorney.
Officer Lorenz, 29, an imposing 6-foot-8-inch man, received paid vacation pending the investigation into the killing and went back on the job April 14. During the time of his leave it was “mentally doing well,” said Lenoir City police chief Don White. He resigned in June to work elsewhere.
The family in a statement through its attorney says that the killing by “a cowboy cop” was a death penalty given upon the young man without a trial.
Police initially tried to blame the killing on the victim, saying that Mr. Lorenz “somehow ended up in the bed of the pickup,” according to an initial statement.
“[Lorenz] does say, ‘Stop the truck, stop the truck,’ distinctly two times,” the DA Mr. Johnson said at the April press conference. “In part of his statement, he says, ‘The driver looks back and saw me,’ so the driver obviously could see, feel, hear. But the fact that he made eye contact with him, knew that he was there, and he was still gunning it and not making any attempt to stop.”
The killing occurred in the early morning hours of the day after an encounter of Officer Lorenz and three people at Bimbo’s convenience store. The officer had put one person in handcuffs. Meanwhile, Mr. Grubb got into a pickup truck and pulled away. Officer Lorenz shouted for him to stop. He jumped in the bed of the Dodge Dakota and, allegedly fearing for his life, fired his Glock into Mr. Grubb’s back and skull.
Now the runaway pickup truck, whose movement caused him to fear for his life, kept rolling down the wrong lane on state highway, over an I-75 overpass, and finally hit a utility pole.
“If [Lorenz] had gotten in his vehicle and tried chasing them, he would have been leaving those two people there — you’re right he did” leave Toni Ann Sutton and Brandon Lawrence Taylor, Mr. Johnson the DA said. “I don’t have any good answer for you. None of us knows what we’re going to do unless we’re in that situation. *** There are other things he could have done, yes, but he chose to do what he did because that was his thought process.”
Grand jury hears ‘problematic’ case
The state’s attorney said his office provided the grand jury and the public with all surveillance footage and information he had on the case. While he outlined four possible criminal charges, it appears he made a weak case, or no case, for indictment.
“I told you at the outset it was highly problematic, and that’s why it went to the grand jury for their consideration, and we put everything out there, and I want you and the public to know everything that the grand jury looked at so that we’re not hiding anything,” he said. “We didn’t hide anything or color anything for the grand jury.”
Said the Grubb family attorney in a statement: “We are more distressed by the cavalier attitude of the officer in misrepresenting to the media what occurred as evidenced by the clear conflicts with the actual videos and audio. *** Officer Lorenz’s “Cowboy Cop” attitude and actions cannot be condoned in a modern civilized free society and his day of reckoning will come in a court of law sooner rather than later.”
Police’s superior rights
Had officer Lorenz acted as private citizen, the slaying would have been prosecuted as murder, with the district attorney making an effort to obtain an indictment. As it was, Mr. Lorenz is a state actor, wearing a state uniform, and his “fear for his life” is at a lower plane of responsibility or tort.
“At the end of the day,” Lenoir City police chief Don White told WBIR TV, “we have to protect the public and ourselves, so when we feel that threat has risen to the loss of life, then we have to take action that would rise to deadly force.”
Police are in a league above the citizenry, acting as a military occupation force serving commercial and executive government. Mr. White’s department serves the interests of the executive branch, run by mayor Tony R. Aikens.
Slaying of dad in Chattanooga
In Chattanooga the most recent police execution was of Javario Eagle, who was shot down in two barrages and handcuffed after he had been mortally wounded.
The rationale given by police is that they thought he was about to shoot his daughter, given that he was “exhibiting unusual behavior” in an agitated state of mind, held her hand, went in and out of a door in Emma Wheeler Homes apartment unit, and held a pistol. That presumption was rebutted by families and neighbors afterward.
Our free market and local economy analysis asserts that had the officer not carried a lethal weapon with him, he would have had to resort to a human relationship with Mr. Grubb and to “treating with” him, to use an old word — to negotiating, cajoling, reasoning and acting as a friendly equal.
He would have had to argue with the man, could show him, reason with him, and make it clear to him that if you didn’t stop, he would be charged with kidnapping, which is a felony.
Rather than discuss Mr. Grubb’s increasingly bleak options in a reasonable way and simply be patient, the state actor executed him and allowed to happen the very thing that he didn’t want — namely, to be in a moving truck, at night, with not merely an inebriated man with his foot on the gas, but a dead man in a small cab into which he could not climb.
‘Grand jury clears Lenoir City police officer who jumped in man’s truck, shooting him,’ WATE.com, April 14, 2016. http://wate.com/2016/04/14/attorney-general-releases-grand-jurys-findings-in-2-officer-involved-shootings/
Jeremy Styron, “Officers cleared in shootings,” News Herald,” April 15, 2016. http://www.news-herald.net/breaking/officers-cleared-in-shootings/article_dc502d63-2790-5a7f-b382-78ddbadf1af4.html
“Lenoir City officer involved in fatal shooting resigns,” WBIR.com, June 1, 2016. http://www.wbir.com/news/crime/lenoir-city-officer-involved-in-fatal-shooting-resigns/227205869
By Heather Burian, “Family: Lenoir City officer should have never pulled trigger,” Local8now.com, April 15, 2016. http://www.local8now.com/content/news/Family-Lenoir-City-officer-should-have-never-pulled-trigger-375925371.html