With court hearing ahead, man charged with shooting toward police presents gifts to JCPD

Becky Campbell • May 16, 2018 at 6:04 PM

A Johnson City man accused of shooting a gun in the direction of three city police officers at his residence last year recently was photographed presenting a gift to the Johnson City Police Department for National Police Week, a week ahead of his preliminary hearing.

Police Chief Karl Turner said he unaware of the charges until after the department received the mugs and “did not misconstrue their token of appreciation to be anything more than that.”

Tyler Tetrick, of Tetrick Funeral Home, posted a photo on the company’s Facebook page as well his own, showing him presenting stainless steel coffee mugs to Turner to distribute to all department employees  to memorialize National Police Week. The mugs are engraved with “Thank you POLICE for your service” and “Tetrick Funeral Home.”

In a previous post on Facebook, Tetrick said the police saved his life:

May 13-19 is designated as "National Police Week" — I would like to pay special recognition to law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. Please join me in recognizing, thanking, and appreciating all of our officers, and remembering those who have fallen in service. I personally owe my life to the bravery of local law enforcement and I will forever be grateful to them for saving my life.

Tetrick was arrested Dec. 26 after police responded to his residence about a suicide attempt. As officers entered his condo and announced their presence, they heard a gunshot from a nearby room. Officers were dispatched to 422 Heather View Drive after a relative called 911 about a text Tetrick sent stating he wanted to kill himself.

When officers went into the bedroom where they’d heard the shot, they found Tetrick lying on the bed with a handgun in his right hand. He had not shot himself but had fired into a wall. He was charged with three counts of reckless endangerment for allegedly firing the weapon into a bedroom wall.

“I was made aware that Mr. Tetrick had been charged after the mugs were presented to the department,” Turner said Wednesday. “I was not aware of whether the charge against Mr. Tetrick had been adjudicated or was still pending. The matter is now in the hands of the district attorney’s office. If any of the three officers involved is called to testify, their testimony will reflect the facts already detailed in a sworn affidavit signed in December 2017, when the incident took place.

“It is my understanding that we were not the only local law enforcement agency presented with mugs in honor of Police Week. We’re grateful that Tetrick Funeral Home supports law enforcement and did not misconstrue their token of appreciation to be anything more than that.”

The description under the photos on the Tetrick Funeral Home Facebook page — one showing Tetrick shaking Turner’s hand and each man holding one of the mugs and another photo of just the mug — said,  “In honor of celebrating National Police Week, Tyler Tetrick of Tetrick Funeral & Cremation Services presented Johnson City Chief of Police Karl Turner with stainless steel travel mugs for everyone in his department. This was just a small token of our appreciation to all the dedicated professionals in the JCPD who protect and serve our community by putting themselves in harms way daily. We owe a great deal of gratitude to those law enforcement heroes who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and should thank our current police officers for their service as often as possible.”

Tetrick’s attorney, Steve Finney, said it was common practice for the funeral home to provide in-kind services to the police department.

“Previous to this, they had donated a burial for one of the K9s, they give burials to any officer killed in the line of duty, they have opened up veteran parking places on all their properties,” Finney said. “All I can say is that he’s done so much good. ... I was amazed by all they do.”

Officer William Saulsbury, one of the three officers who responded to the incident, wrote the affidavit charging Tetrick and stated he “found a bullet hole in the bedroom wall that was the facing direction of the approaching officer: “(It) appears that the subject fired a round towards the wall that went through two walls and lodged and came to rest in a third wall.”

The court document from Saulsbury stated that when he talked to Tetrick at the hospital later that evening, Tetrick said he had taken Xanax in an attempt to kill himself and that he had “fired his handgun at the wall in an attempt to keep officers out of the room because he just wanted to die. He stated that he had not expected officers to arrive as quickly as they did and that he didn’t want them coming in the room and stopping his death.”

Finney said he has researched case law and believes the evidence likely does not support the charges against Tetrick. He had hoped to sit down with the DA’s office to discus the case, but with the recent untimely death of District Attorney General Tony Clark and transition of Ken Baldwin into that position, there had not been time to do so.

Finney noted Tetrick had no prior criminal charges. Tetrick is free on a $30,000 cash bond while his case is pending. He is due Tuesday in Washington County Sessions Court for the preliminary hearing.

A message left for Tetrick on Wednesday was not immediately returned.

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