A police officer leapt into the bed of a pickup truck and then fatally shot the driver for allegedly leaving a DWI stop in Tennessee yesterday.
The Lenoir City Police Department dispatched an officer to investigate a possible DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) near a convenience store off Highway 321. According to the police, the officer located the vehicle and found that both the driver and passenger were drunk, and first attempted to arrest the passenger for public intoxication, when the driver drove off.
One might assume that a logical response to this situation would be to radio for back-up and stay with the person the officer was arresting, but instead, according to the officer’s own story, he leapt into the back of the vehicle, and then shot and killed the driver, 31-year-old Joshua Grubb.
This use of force against an apparently unarmed fleeing suspect in a motor vehicle seems to violate numerous policies/laws.
The Supreme Court decision that currently establishes appropriate use of force against a fleeing suspect stems from a case that started in the very same state as this fatal shooting. Tennessee v. Garner held that when a law enforcement officer pursues a fleeing suspect, they may not use deadly force to prevent escape unless that suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious injury to the officer. It seems fair to say that this driver did not pose a threat to the officer’s safety before the officer leapt into the driver’s vehicle, and that the officer’s risk of death or serious injury greatly increased after the officer shot and killed the person driving that vehicle.
Federal guidelines also state that cops should essentially never shoot into a moving vehicle, even though they do it with shocking regularity.
The LCPD has placed the officer on paid administrative leave but has not released their name.
This shooting also comes less than a week after two police officers shot a man in nearby Roane County during a domestic dispute. Officials say 27-year-old state corrections officer Nathan Manis fired on the two officers who in turn shot Manis. He was flown by LifeStar to University of Tennessee Medical center where his condition is still unconfirmed.
According to the The Guardian, police in Tennessee have already killed 6 people this year. In 2015, they killed 21 people.