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Gates Police Video Shows Officer Helping Tyshon Jones

Patti Singer

Gates Police Officer Mike Furia talks with Tyshon Jones on March 9, 2021. Mr. Jones said he was homeless and the officer took him to a shelter. Image from Gates Police Department body camera footage.

A 25-minute body camera video shows a Gates Police officer encountering a barefoot Tyshon Jones outside Dunn Tower around mid-afternoon on March 9 on Spencerport Road, telling the man he’ll take him to a shelter and then finding a pair of boots so he can go inside.

About 12 hours later, a Rochester Police officer shot and killed Tyshon Jones outside 210 W. Main St. after he did not heed numerous requests to drop the knife he was holding and continued to advance on the officer, who was backing into a wall.

What happened from the time Mr. Jones entered the shelter on Hobart Street to when he allegedly took knives from the Open Door Mission, 210 W. Main St. and was shot around 3 a.m. March 10, has not been revealed.

His family on March 14 held a news conference to say that their loved one was deeply religious, involved in his church and “a voice crying in the wilderness on behalf of the Lord,” said his grandmother, Phyllis Lowry.

The video from Gates Police, released to Minority Reporter through a Freedom of Information Law request, began with Officer Mike Furia talking with a man who identifies himself as the building superintendent and points to another man, who later tells the officer is name is Tyshon, and said he is trespassing.

The superintendent said Mr. Jones followed a man home from Family Dollar after that man bought him some food. The superintendent said Mr. Jones can’t stay on the property.

As the officer approaches and asks about the situation, Mr. Jones said he’s shoeless and homeless.

“Your feet must be cold,” Furia said. “Do you want me to get you a ride someplace where you don’t have to walk and tear up your feet?”

He said there is a shelter off Chili Avenue, which isn’t far.

Mr. Jones said he wanted to go to jail, but Furia said, “We’re not here for that. … We want to make sure you get a ride somewhere safe. … You can’t be here but we can bring you somewhere you can be.”

There are at least two other people outside the apartment building standing near Mr. Jones, but their faces are redacted in the video. One of the them said, “Do what he says,” and Mr. Jones agrees.

Furia asked if Mr. Jones minds if he pats him down to check for weapons or anything sharp. As he brings him to the car, he asks his name and the man says, “Tyshon.”

“You can call me Mike,” the officer said.

As Furia helped him into the back seat, he reminded him to fasten the seat belt.

On the ride to the shelter, Mr. Jones asked Furia if he has a favorite song. He said he listens to all sorts of music. Mr. Jones started a rap, but his voice was low and the audio on Furia’s camera doesn’t pick up all the sound. But he told him to “keep going.”

The ride to the shelter on Hobart Street took about 10 minutes, and Mr. Jones was talking softly. The audio was faint and in parts drowned out by chatter on the police radio.

When they arrived at the shelter, a staff member told Furia that Mr. Jones can’t be admitted without shoes. Furia asked if they have socks. “I can’t have him walking around barefoot.”

Another staff member pointed out a pair of boots sitting in the side yard along a fence, and Furia goes to get them.

The boots appeared to be tight, and Mr. Jones initially was reluctant to keep them on. The boots seemed to make him uncomfortable and he said they didn’t fit.

“I know,” Furia said. “You got to try to slide them on, buddy. Do the best you can.”

For about five minutes, Furia explained to Mr. Jones that he can’t enter the shelter unless he has shoes and coaxing him to slide them on “just for a little bit.”

A staff member brought Mr. Jones a pair of white socks. He put them on, but remained hesitant about the boots. He said he can’t put them on. Furia said he has to so they will let him in the shelter. Mr. Jones said, “I’m just going to have to go to heaven.”

Furia suggested he pull out the laces out and urged him to try the shoes again. As Mr. Jones talked about God, Furia continued to encourage him to slip into the shoes so he can get inside.

Jones said OK, put the boots on, and the video ended with him thanking Furia and Furia saying, “Good luck to you, my friend.”

The last frames showed Mr. Jones walking into the shelter and captured the boots, which is how Gates Police said its officers recognized the man on the Rochester police body cam footage as Tyshon Jones.