Police: Trooper 'defended himself' in Lee shooting

Sean I. Mills
Staff writer
Posted 4/17/19

TOWN OF LEE — Twenty-four-year-old Tyler R. Johnson was hiding a knife when law enforcement and rescue personnel responded to his Golly Road home for a reported “possible overdose” Tuesday …

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Police: Trooper 'defended himself' in Lee shooting

TOWN OF LEE — Twenty-four-year-old Tyler R. Johnson was hiding a knife when law enforcement and rescue personnel responded to his Golly Road home for a reported “possible overdose” Tuesday night, according to state police officials.
Johnson then refused multiple orders to drop the weapon and lunged at Trooper Robert Annarino, officials said. Trooper Annarino discharged his duty weapon seven times, officials noted. Johnson was pronounced dead after being rushed to the hospital.
“It’s way too early to determine why he acted the way he did...we may never know,” said State Police Major Philip T. Rougeux, the Troop D Commander.
“The subject refused the demands of the trooper to drop the knife, so he (the trooper) defended himself.”
Authorities said it is still too soon into the investigation to determine Johnson’s motivations. They said they are conducting numerous interviews and are examining Johnson’s social media accounts. Officials said the possibility that
Johnson suffered from depression has come up in their investigation so far.
“We’ve been to that residence in the past for some mental health issues,” Rougeux said, but would not specify if those previous calls were about Johnson.
In a post to Facebook at 6:48 p.m. Tuesday — less than half an hour before the shooting — Johnson wrote a suicidal message:
“God please take my life now, I can’t deal with it anymore I just want to be with my loved ones in heaven,” Johnson wrote to Facebook.
Ten minutes prior to that, Johnson posted lyrics from the song “Ring” by the artist Cardi B, along with the line, “oh, oh just please come back home and be my queen.”
District Attorney Scott D. McNamara said it is too soon to determine if the shooting was a justifiable homicide.
“We’re in the process of securing Mr. Johnson’s Facebook posts, which we believe might lead to us understanding what he was thinking for some time,” McNamara said.
The incident
State police said both law enforcement and AmCare Ambulance were dispatched to 4989 Golly Road at 7:09 p.m. for an “unconscious” male, a “possible overdose.” Officials said this was a medical call, not a law enforcement complaint.
EMTs from AmCare Ambulance were the first on the scene, and they waited for law enforcement to arrive, authorities said. According to officials, it is routine for medical personnel to wait for law enforcement backup when responding to overdose calls.
The call to 9-1-1 came from someone at the residence, officials said. Trooper Annarino was the first into the residence and he was directed to a back bedroom, where officials said he found Johnson lying face down on the bed, with this hands hidden underneath him.
State police said that family members on the scene advised the trooper that Johnson was possibly suffering from a seizure. Officials said they do not know if the family knew Johnson had a knife. Annarino requested assistance from the EMTs to roll Johnson over. Officials said Johnson physically resisted.
Sheriff’s Deputy Emrah Latic arrived on the scene and began to assist.
“He had a knife clenched underneath him. When they rolled him over, that’s when the trooper saw the knife and advised everyone else that he was holding a knife,” Maj. Rougeux stated.
The knife was described by state police as a folding knife with a 4-inch blade.
“It was very hectic. It all happened very quickly,” Rougeux said. “When the trooper was presented with a knife, within very close proximity — we’re talking very close — he had his hands on him rolling him over when he discovered the knife.”
Rougeux said they have not yet determined when Annarino drew his duty weapon. They said Annarino put himself between Johnson and the EMTs, who were backing out of the bedroom.
“The trooper requested him to drop the knife numerous times,” Rougeux stated.
The major said Johnson did not drop the knife and lunged at Annarino.
“That’s when he defended himself and shot him,” Rougeux said. “The trooper fired seven rounds.”
Authorities said they have not yet determined how far away Annarino was from Johnson when he fired the weapon.
They also do not yet know how many times Johnson was struck or where on his body. Officials said that will be determined by an autopsy, which was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Authorities said Johnson was rushed to Rome Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted the autopsy.
Rougeux said the Johnson family is cooperating with the investigation.
Trooper Annarino joined the state police in 2016 and is assigned to the office in Lee, officials said. He took Wednesday and Thursday off from work.
District Attorney McNamara said the state Attorney General’s Office was notified of the shooting Tuesday night and they responded to the scene to conduct their own review. There is a mandate from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for the Attorney General’s Office to investigate any officer-involved shooting where the victim is unarmed. McNamara said the AG’s Office will need to determine whether or not Johnson was armed.
“I would like to offer my condolences to the family members of the deceased,” said Rougeux.
Calling hours for Johnson will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at Nunn and Harper Funeral Home at 418 N. George St.
Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Rome Cemetery.
The full obituary is on page 5.


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