Jury finds driver guilty in DUI crash that killed Smyrna police officer

A Cobb County jury has found a driver guilty of killing a Smyrna police officer in a 2020 crash.

On the night of April 20, 2020, Officer Christopher Eric Ewing was working traffic enforcement on South Cobb Drive near the Interstate 285 interchange. Late that night, dispatch lost contact with the officer and 911 operators began receiving calls about an accident involving an officer.

When officers got to the scene, they found the entire top of the Ewing's patrol vehicle appears to have caved in and an SUV with major front end damage.

Officials say that night, Ewing noticed a speeding car and pulled onto South Cobb Drive to initiate a traffic stop. Before he could, however, a Chevrolet Tahoe turned in front of the vehicle, leading to a crash.

Officer Christopher Eric Ewing (Smyrna Police Department) (Smyrna Police Department)

Ewing sustained internal injuries. He died shortly after being extracted from the vehicle. 

Ewing had been with the department for two years, serving on nights in the Uniform Patrol Division. The officer was a veteran of the United States Air Force and currently served in the reserves. He had been recently been awarded a lifesaving award and had applied to be part of the department's DUI task force.

In evidence provided by the court, officials say Georgia State Patrol troopers spoke with the 38-year-old Robert Lorenzo Cox, the driver of the Tahoe, and detected "the odor of alcohol." After securing a search warrant for Cox's blood, GBI investigators determined that he was under the influence of alcohol when the crash happened.

Robert Lorenzo Cox (Smyrna Police Department)

After two days of deliberations, a jury found Cox guilty of one count of vehicular homicide by vehicle 1st degree, one count of failure to yield, one count of open container and one count of tampering with evidence. 

"We hear often about the dangers of drinking and driving and this case was a tragic result of the Defendant’s choice to drive while under the influence, which cost Officer Ewing his life.
 Assistant District Attorney Jay Winkler said. "My heart goes out to Officer Ewing’s family, friends and colleagues from the Smyrna Police Department, and I hope that they find some peace and comfort in this verdict."

Cox was out on bond before the trial and is now in custody at the Cobb County Jail.

He will be sentenced for the charges in June.