Lenoir police officer makes self available to grand jury in fatal shooting probe
Bob Fowler of the Knoxville News Sentinel
LOUDON — Dressed in his Lenoir City Police Department uniform, Tyrel Lorenz arrived at the Loudon County courthouse annex Tuesday morning to make himself available to grand jurors deliberating his fate.
Lorenz, 29, of Oak Ridge, declined comment as he entered and then waited upstairs while the jury convened in secret downstairs.
Jurors on Tuesday spent hours reviewing the shooting case that left a 30-year-old Clinton man dead of repeated gunshots fired by Lorenz.
Joshua William Grubb, 30, died after he drove away from Bimbo's, a Lenoir City convenience store, early March 13. He was suspected of DUI, and Lorenz had handcuffed a companion when Grubb took off, with Lorenz jumping into the bed of the Dodge Dakota that Grubb was driving.
Lorenz reportedly yelled repeatedly for Grubb to stop as he drove across a median and headed the wrong way down the four-lane U.S. Highway 321.
Grand jurors are investigating the circumstances that led to Lorenz shooting Grubb before Grubb crashed into a utility pole less than a mile from Bimbo's.
During Tuesday's inquest, the grand jurors were to review video from the officer's body camera, from the camera inside Lorenz's cruiser, and from a surveillance camera at Bimbo's, a court official said.
Jurors also boarded a 20-seat church bus for a trip to the nearby Loudon County Justice Center to examine the battered, impounded pickup.
The grand jury also traveled to Bimbo's to look over the scene where the incident started and visited the site where Grubb crashed into the pole.
Authorities said Lorenz immediately starting rendering first aid to the mortally wounded man after the crash.
Should grand jurors decide not to return an indictment against Lorenz, that decision could become public as early as Wednesday. If Lorenz were indicted, that action would be made known only after his arrest, a court official said.
Lorenz just after midnight March 13 was responding to a E-911 call from the Ruby Tuesday's restaurant just across U.S. Highway 321 from Bimbo's about three people who had just left in a pickup.
He found the pickup at Bimbo's as Grubb was refueling. Lorenz had placed one of the pickup's two passengers in handcuffs when Grubb started to drive away.
"Lorenz commanded the driver to stop several times before Lorenz somehow ended up in the back bed of the pickup," according to a joint statement issued the day after the incident by Lenoir City Police Chief Don White and 9th Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson. "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."
The pickup traveled into oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the divided highway and across the overpass above Interstate 75 before it struck a utility pole less than a mile from Bimbo's.
Meanwhile, Grubb's companion, Brandon Lawrence Taylor, 31, of Clinton, had somehow wiggled out of the cuffs, went to two nearby hotels in an effort to use a phone and was found in the bathroom of the Days Inn. He was charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest.
The other passenger, Toni Ann Sutton, 40, of Heiskell, was charged with drug paraphernalia possession.
Lorenz, who stands 6 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs more than 250 pounds, has been a law enforcement officer for six years, first with the Roane County Sheriff's Office, where he began in March 2010. He resigned in mid-April 2015 to take the job with the Lenoir City Police Department.
Authorities in both law enforcement agencies said Lorenz had an unblemished record. Lorenz, who recently moved to Oak Ridge, has been on paid leave since the shooting.