Mimesis Law
3 June 2020

When A Cop Plays Stuntman, Public Safety Is At Risk

Mar. 24, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Joshua Grubb is dead, gunned down by Officer Tyrel Lorenz of the Lenoir City Police Department. That fact is not in dispute.  The bigger, more nagging question, is why Lorenz decided to jump into the back of Grubb’s moving pickup truck and shoot him to death while on a highway, disregarding public safety in the process.

District Attorney General Russell Johnson says Joshua Grubb, 30, originally of Clinton, was shot multiple times by Officer Tyrel Lorenz.. [at a] convenience store/restaurant/gas station…

The events of March 13 reveal Lorenz’s incredible inability to manage a DUI stop and his complete, utter disregard for the public in the performance of his duties.  Lorenz’s conduct is more reminiscent of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane than a “reasonable police officer.”

[Lorenz] was sent to the Bimbo’s convenience center after a 911 call from a nearby Ruby Tuesday’s about three people who had just left the restaurant in a pickup truck.

Officer Lorenz questioned the three as they pumped gas at Bimbo’s. According to a release from District Attorney General Russell Johnson, Lorenz had placed one of the three in handcuffs when the driver, Joshua William Grubb, 30, of Clinton, began driving away.

One suspect, Brandon Taylor, was already in handcuffs. Another, Toni Sutton, was most likely due a fitting for a set of matching metal bracelets.  Then Joshua Grubb decided to pull out of the Bimbo’s parking lot.  Instead of calling for assistance or attempting to secure Taylor and Sutton, Lorenz decided this was his shining moment to reenact a scene from an action film.  He left Taylor and Sutton at Bimbo’s, jumped into the back of Grubb’s pickup, and opened fire.

Lorenz ordered Grubb to stop several times before…he jumped into the back of the truck as it left the parking lot. He continued to order Grubb to stop from the bed of the pickup truck, but as the vehicle accelerated onto Highway 321, Lorenz shot the driver multiple times.

The truck traveled into oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road and finally stopped when it hit a utility pole head on, less than a mile away from where the confrontation started.

If you don’t have a badge, gun, and a state-sanctioned license to kill, this conduct is either called “criminally negligent homicide” or “reckless homicide” in Tennessee. It’s hard to justify this conduct as anything other than “reckless” or “criminally negligent” if we’re looking at the definitions of both mental states.

(c)  Reckless refers to a person who acts recklessly with respect to circumstances surrounding the conduct or the result of the conduct when the person is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur

(d)  Criminal negligence refers to a person who acts with criminal negligence with respect to the circumstances surrounding that person’s conduct or the result of that conduct when the person ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur… (Emphasis added.)

Jumping into the back of a moving pickup truck in the mind of any sane, rational human being constitutes “reckless” or “negligent” behavior. Firing bullets into the cab as the truck swerves into oncoming traffic after leaving two “suspects” at the scene would normally constitute a “substantial and unjustifiable risk” for most people. But Tyler Lorenz is a cop, and that means sane, rational thought goes out the window.  Especially since Lorenz has an “unblemished record” as an officer and Grubb had “priors.”

Joshua Grubb, a Clinton resident, had an Anderson County arrest record for offenses ranging from a public intoxication charge in 2004 to a first-offense DUI in 2013. He had been found in violation of his probation on four occasions, records show.

Public intoxication, DUI, and violation of probation don’t constitute a dangerous threat to the public or an officer. Regardless, Lorenz saw Grubb’s action as a threat to the safety of the public and himself, so he decided to jump into the bed of a moving pickup truck and fire rounds into the cab.  This rationale is perfectly justifiable to Lorenz’s supervisors, who are willing to stand by their man.

Chief Don White, with Lenoir City Police, says the department is standing by the officers (sic) actions.

“At the end of the day we have to protect the public and ourselves, so when we feel that threat has risen to loss of life we have to take action that would rise to deadly force,” said White. (Emphasis added.)

Welcome to the First Rule of Policing as defined by Chief Don White.  Cop feelings mean more than the safety of the public, and if their feelings are that “loss of life” is an issue, then it’s okay to play Dirty Harry on a public highway.  The problem with Chief White’s rationalization is the “loss of life” wasn’t the two suspects left at the convenience store, motorists on Highway 321, or even Officer Lorenz.  It was Joshua Grubb who was shot to death as a result of Lorenz’s “feelings.” Taylor and Sutton, left at the convenience store due to Lorenz’s feelings, fled the scene and were apprehended later, since Lorenz “felt” more like Charles Bronson than an actual functioning police officer.

[Taylor], meanwhile, had wiggled out of his handcuffs, slipped away to two nearby hotels in a bid to use a phone and was eventually nabbed in the bathroom of the Days Inn, police said. He was charged with public intoxication and evading arrest.

Also arrested was…Toni Ann Sutton…who was charged with drug paraphernalia possession.

Lorenz’s decision to prioritize shooting Grubb rather than secure his two passengers is a testament to how his “feelings” managed to put the public at risk in a greater fashion than if he’d chosen do his job. Yet Lorenz gets the benefit of the doubt, because he’s a cop, and gets paid administrative leave while Grubb’s family attempts to pay for a funeral.

7 Comments on this post.

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  • Greg Prickett
    24 March 2016 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    You know, over my years as a cop, I learned that a great many people were idiots.

    Being a cop does not immunize one from being an idiot, as Chris outlines here.

    You have got an offender who you can presumably identify, two passengers who you have placed under arrest, the idiot officer who jumps in the truck, and the idiot chief who is backing the first idiot.

    The idiocy by the chief is more disappointing to me than the idiocy by the officer. I understand how the officer can get too involved and make a stupid decision in a split second. The chief has had time to evaluate this before deciding to back the officer’s stupid decision.

    The officer should be prosecuted and the chief fired.

    • CLS
      25 March 2016 at 8:31 am - Reply

      The image you gave me of the cop creating an “unguided missile” on the highway when we discussed this in an earlier email exchange still sticks with me. Hopefully there will be heads that will roll regarding this murder.

      But the Lenoir City PD has doubled down on the stupid, and more than likely your “should” won’t happen as a result.

  • Scott Jacobs
    24 March 2016 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Can we all just stop for a second and bask in the glory of whoever named that convenience store?

    • CLS
      25 March 2016 at 6:59 am - Reply

      I have never heard of this place until I read about this incident.
      Just based on name alone I want to go to Lenoir City to see if it’s a real thing now.
      Yes, the name is glorious indeed.

  • No Mail Today | Simple Justice
    26 March 2016 at 9:47 am - Reply

    […] unattended.”  And you thought they didn’t send the check, right?  No, it’s not nearly as stupid as the Tennessee imbecile, Tyrel Lorenz, who leapt into the back of a pickup, leaving two arrested persons to wander away, as […]

  • Carlos Ramsey
    31 March 2016 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    I was a police office in the 70’s. I was never taught to jump in a truck or car. He was just being a cowboy. His radio is much faster than any car or truck. It is such a waste of life of Josh and the officer. There is no doubt the officer should be charged.

  • “Substantial Settlements” Aren’t A Substitute For Justice
    26 August 2016 at 9:40 am - Reply

    […] case the name doesn’t ring a bell, Fault Lines discussed Tyrel Lorenz’s decision to jump into the back of Grubb’s moving pickup truck and shoot Grubb through the truck’s cab […]