The New York Attorney General's Office of Special Investigation has determined the police actions in the fatal shooting of an Oneonta man in April were justified to prevent the death of a child.
Tyler Green, 23, was fatally shot during a confrontation with Oneonta police in front of his River Street home on April 6.
"First I am appreciative that the Attorney General's office took their time and did a very thorough investigation," Mayor Gary Herzig said.
"I certainly am gratified to hear that it validated the appropriate professional actions of the officers involved," he added. "It certainly reflects well on the officers involved and the entire Oneonta Police Department."
Oneonta police responded to Green's residence after his partner's sister reported that Green had made violent threats against his partner, who was visiting his house with their nearly-2-year-old child.
According to the report, members of the Oneonta Police Department decided to conduct a welfare check on the child. While on their way to Green’s home, they received a dispatch that Green allegedly threatened to stab his partner with a knife.
Two officers drove to the home and saw Green, his partner and the child in the front yard. Green pulled a knife from his pocket, lunged at his partner, and threatened to kill her, the report said. The officers drew their guns and instructed Green to drop the knife. Green then cut his partner’s leg with the knife and swung the knife at one of the officers.
Green, who was on his stomach on the ground, then grabbed his son by the leg. The report said that as Green began to swing the knife at the child, one of the officers, identified as Sgt. Ralph Pajerski, fired two shots striking Green in the back. Green immediately released his hold on the child.
Officers called an ambulance and provided care to Mr. Green before it arrived, the release said. Green was initially transported to A.O. Fox Hospital and was the process of being transported by helicopter to another hospital when he was pronounced dead.
OSI concluded Pajerski was justified in his use of deadly force, as it was reasonable to believe that Green was about to use deadly physical force against the child, according to the report, and that only the officer’s use of deadly physical force could prevent him from doing so.
OSI also reviewed the medical care Green received after he was wounded and observed that New York law prohibited medical personnel from giving him blood during his medevac flight from Oneonta to Albany.
“After a complete and exhaustive review of this incident, my office concluded that the officer was justified in his use of force to protect the life of a two-year old child,” Attorney General Letitia James said in the release. “While this situation was tragic, it could have been even more devastating if not for the actions of the responding officers. Members of law enforcement put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities, and these officers bravely and responsibly fulfilled their duty.”