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AG report: Simran Gordon shot first, no charges filed 

click to enlarge A still from body cam footage released by the Rochester Police Department.
  • A still from body cam footage released by the Rochester Police Department.

No charges will be filed in the death of Simran Gordon, who was fatally shot by Rochester police while he was robbing a downtown discount store at gunpoint in October 2021.

Details of an investigation into the shooting by the state Attorney General’s Office that were released Friday found that Gordon was shot four times — once in the back, once in the buttock, and twice in the chest.

He was shot by Officer John Boyle in response to gunfire from Gordon, according to investigators.

RELATED: RPD says suspect shot killed during robbery at Family Dollar

Gordon was in the process of robbing the Family Dollar on West Main Street. At around 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 6, Gordon entered the store, showed a clerk a pistol in the front pocket of his sweatshirt, and demanded money from the safe and registers. An employee called 911 from the store’s backroom.

“We’re getting robbed right now,” the employee said in the 911 recording. “He has my managers at gunpoint right now.”

In response to the call, Boyle and Officer Mary Yare arrived at the store about five minutes later. Boyle, entering first, confronted Gordon behind the counter and demanded he take his hands out of his pocket.

While Gordon’s verbal response to the command was unintelligible in police body-worn camera footage, investigators interviewed a clerk who said that Gorden replied, “I can’t do that,” before fleeing to the back of the store.

Video of the chase is shaky, but six distinct shots can be heard. The first was fired by Gordon, who was tailed by Boyle. Boyle fired the next five rounds, shouting “Drop the gun,” as Gordon lay on the floor of the aisle. A brown paper bag fell from Gordon’s hand. Yare slid the bag with her foot out of Gordon’s reach, saying “Boyle, I got it.”

The bag contained a Glock model 22 .40-caliber pistol, the slide of which was jammed with a casing after being recovered, according to investigators. Gordon was pronounced dead at 9:43 p.m.

The investigation found that police could not directly trace any bullet at the scene to Gordon’s gun using ballistics testing, but had deduced that one bullet at the scene must have been fired by Gordon based on the fact that it was not a hollow-point bullet. All of the other bullets found at the scene were hollow-points that came from Boyle’s .45-caliber Glock 21.

The attorney general’s report, which includes ballistic analysis and medical examination, determined Boyle acted within his rights to use deadly force on Gordon.

“Boyle said that even after Mr. Gordon fell to the floor, he was still holding the gun and raising it toward the open aisle to his right; in that moment, knowing that Mr. Gordon had already fired once, Boyle said he again feared not only for his safety, but also for the safety of Yare and the customers and employees in the store, which is why he fired a final shot at Mr. Gordon,” the report read.

Boyle, 28, has been a patrol officer with the Rochester Police Department since Sept. 2019, and has no sustained complaints of misconduct on his record. Yare, 26, joined the department at the same time as Boyle. She also has not been found guilty of any complaint of misconduct.

While the Attorney General’s Office did not determine any wrongdoing in Gordon’s death, it did make recommendations to the department. Namely, the report criticized former Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan for public comments she made following the shooting in which she said Gordon was “believed to be tied to at least three people killed.”

Investigators noted that Boyle and Yare had no way of knowing who Gordon was at the time of the shooting, and that that information was irrelevant to Boyle’s decision to pull the trigger.

The report advised that any statements made in police shootings should be well-founded, appropriately framed as an allegation, and not brought up if they are not relevant to the incident in question.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.
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