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RPD officer who shot man armed with knife in March will not be charged

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Max Schulte/WXXI News
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Officers investigate scene of fatal shooting by police of a man with a knife in March 2021.

A Monroe County Grand Jury has found ‘no cause for action’ against a Rochester Police Officer after he shot and killed a man armed with a knife last March.

According to the Monroe County District Attorney’s office, the grand jury conducted an investigation into the death of Tyshon Jones that happened on March 10.

A press release from Monroe County DA Sandra Doorley says that, “although proceedings before grand juries are secret as a matter of law, the findings of the District Attorney’s Office, made from evidence uncovered outside of the grand jury proceeding, can be made public."

The DA’s office says that the investigation revealed that in the early morning hours on March 10, Rochester Police got a report of a man who entered the Open Door Mission on West Main Street and removed a bucket of knives from the kitchen and then ran away.

The DA’s office says police located Jones in the area of Cascade Drive and Industrial Street and says that Jones appeared to be cutting himself with a large butcher knife. According to the DA, Jones advanced toward the officers with the knife and told officers he wanted to kill them.

The report released by the DA on Friday says that police continued to back away from Jones, and Officer Matthew Drake ordered him to drop the knife. The DA says the investigation showed that after repeated verbal commands and attempts to de-escalate the situation, Jones ran toward Officer Drake with the knife extended in front of him. Drake fired 5 rounds which all hit Jones. He later was pronounced dead at the hospital.

According to the DA’s office, the grand jury found that Drake’s conduct was justified so no criminal charges will be forthcoming.

When the shooting of Jones happened in March, it sparked controversy over how mental health situations are handled by police and the city and whether non-lethal force could have been used.

In the information released by the District Attorney on Friday, officials said that officers responding to the March incident had requested a bean bag gun operator to respond and an officer was on their way to the scene.

Atttorneys for the family of Tyshon Jones released a statement on Saturday saying that they are conducting an independent investigation into the circumstances of Jones’ death and are requesting the unsealing of the grand jury proceedings.

The lawyers, Muhammad Faridi (Patterson Belknap LLP) and Alanna Kaufman and Doug Lieb (Kaufman Lieb Lebowitz & Frick), contend that the City of Rochester and RPD have not lived up to their commitment “to providing officers with appropriate training for engaging with mentally disabled individuals, a community which disproportionately consists of Rochester’s citizens of color, resulting in devastating outcomes.”

The statement from the attorneys said that, “The City has failed Mr. Jones, its own officers, and the public; it must be held accountable for these failures.” The attorneys said that the city now has the chance to better equip and train police and the lawyers said they hope to work with the city and stakeholders to “meet these goals and achieve some measure of justice for Mr. Jones and his family.”

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.