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Family of man killed by police last week calls for changes in policing 

Family members of the man a police officer shot to death last week are calling for a different approach to public safety.

The family members gathered Sunday on the steps of Spiritus Christi Church to talk about the life of Tyshon Jones, the 29-year-old from Gates who was shot and killed by Rochester Police last Wednesday near the Open Door Mission on West Main Street.

The Rev. Myra Brown, the pastor at Spiritus Christi, said Sunday that Jones’ mental health struggle became a death sentence for him.
click to enlarge The Rev. Myra Brown, in an interview on Wednesday, Jan. 13. - PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • The Rev. Myra Brown, in an interview on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
“The system failed him, it failed his parents, it failed his community," said Brown, who is Jones' cousin. "It fails us every day. We want justice for him and safety for people of color in our community in the hands of police."

Brown added that she wants to see wholesale change in policing in Rochester and that a pastor’s roundtable she is part of is making a number of proposals to reimagine public safety in the city.

The shooting happened when police responded to a 911 call from a person at Open Door Mission who reported seeing a man take knives from the shelter's kitchen.

Body-worn camera footage from the incident shows Jones walking towards officers as they back away from him, even after they order him to drop the knife he's carrying and back up. Ultimately, Jones closes in on an officer who issued a final command before firing five rounds into Jones' body.

Jones’ mother, Kennetha Short, also spoke at the news conference, saying that her son was devoted to his church, an honor roll student, and she doesn’t like the way he’s been characterized. She said she will not watch the police body-worn camera video that was released last week.

“For anyone who has crossed paths with Tyshon, they know that the 36-minute video that I refuse to view, that 36 minutes has no reflection on the character of Tyshon, none.” Short also noted that she has had to cope with a lot of family tragedy in recent weeks and months with the death of both her mother and her grandmother.

The City of Rochester is currently working on a reform plan for public safety. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is requiring local governments around the state to develop such plans, which are due to the state by April 1.

Randy Gorbman is the news director at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.

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