Investigation into Lee shooting death continues

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TOWN OF LEE — The investigation into the trooper-involved shooting of 24-year-old Tyler R. Johnson is continuing, but at a reduced pace, because local law enforcers said they are waiting to see if the state Attorney General’s Office will take over.

District Attorney Scott D. McNamara said this morning that the state police continue to investigate the April 16 shooting of Johnson in his home on Golly Road in the Town of Lee.

Authorities said Trooper Robert Annarino responded to the residence for a reported unconscious male and a possible drug overdose, then Johnson lunged at Annarino with a knife.

Authorities said Annarino fired his duty weapon seven times at Johnson, killing him. Autopsy results have not yet been released by state police.

As part of the investigation, McNamara said the knife has been sent away for DNA testing, with DNA samples being collected from everyone involved.

McNamara said the state police have also searched Johnson’s cell phone for evidence. But McNamara said his office has not conducted certain parts of their own investigation — such as prosecutors interviewing Trooper Annarino and the Johnson family — because he does not yet know if his office will be overseeing the case.

According to a 2015 executive order from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the state Attorney General’s Office will take jurisdiction and investigate any fatal incident involving a police officer and an unarmed civilian.

This is the same order that came into play in the City of Oneida in January 2018, when the unarmed John C. Havener Jr. died after being shot with multiple police Tasers.

The AG’s Office eventually ruled that the officers involved were justified in firing their Tasers at Havener and did not cause his death. McNamara said the AG’s Office was notified about Johnson’s shooting on the night it happened, but they have not yet reached a decision on whether or not they will take the case. McNamara noted that the governor’s executive order only involves unarmed civilians, whereas Johnson was armed with a knife.

​“It’s somewhat complicated and I hope they make a decision today or tomorrow,” McNamara said this morning.

Until then, the state police will continue to investigate.

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