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Grand Jury Finds No Cause for Charges in Death of Tyshon Jones

Staff report

The schematic shows the distance traveled by Rochester police and Tyshon Jones on March 10, 2021. File photo

A Monroe County grand jury found no cause for criminal charges against Rochester Police Officer Matthew Drake in the death of Tyshon Jones, according to Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley.

Grand jurors reviewed body worn camera footage, video footage from 210 W. Main St. and witness testimony.

The incident occurred around 3 a.m. March 10, 2021.

Proceedings before a grand jury are secret by law, but the findings of the District Attorney’s Office, made from evidence uncovered outside of the grand jury proceeding, can be made public.

Attorneys for the family of Tyshon Jones on July 17 said they are requesting that the grand jury proceedings be unsealed. There is precedent, as New York state Attorney General Letitia James had the grand jury proceedings unsealed in the matter of the death of Daniel Prude.

Attorneys Muhammad Faridi of Patterson Belknap LLP and Alanna Kaufman and Doug Lieb of Kaufman Lieb Lebowitz & Frick said they are calling for an independent investigation.

According to the DA’s office, the investigation showed:

In the early morning hours of March 10, RPD received a report of a male who entered the Open Door Mission, 210 W. Main St. and removed a bucket of knives from the kitchen then fled on foot.

Officers located Tyshon Jones in the area of Cascade Drive and Industrial Street, and he appeared to be cutting himself with a large butcher knife. Jones began advancing toward the officers with the knife while officers retreated. He told officers that he is dangerous and wished to kill the officers.

Responding officers requested an officer who could use a bean bag gun and were told one was on the way.

The officers continued to retreat approximately 450 feet while Tyshon Jones continued to advance toward them with the butcher knife. Drake ordered Jones to drop the knife over 17 times as officers continued to retreat.

After repeated verbal commands and attempts to de-escalate the situation, Tyshon Jones ran toward Drake with the butcher knife extended in front of him. As Drake backed up more quickly, he lost his balance and nearly fell. When Drake regained his footing, Jones was approximately 13 feet away, still advancing with the knife.

At that point, in front of 210 W. Main St., Drake discharged five rounds from his service weapon in two seconds. Jones was struck once in the left groin, once in the right chest, once in the arm and twice in the abdomen.

Immediately following the shots, Drake and two other Rochester Police officers began to administer first aid with their trauma kit. Jones was transported by ambulance to the University of Rochester Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The attorneys for the Jones family said the city 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 City has failed Mr. Jones, its own officers, and the public; it must be held accountable for these failures. However tragic the recent events, the City is now faced with an opportunity for true reform. … “