Grand Jury says officers justified in shooting Syracuse man at Kingdom Hall
Tue, 01 Feb 2011 19:35:35 GMT —
The man shot by police earlier this month after allegedly threatening them with a knife has been indicted by a Grand Jury.
The Onondaga County District Attorney TMs Office announced Tuesday morning that 19-year-old Ravuan Mitchell of Syracuse has been indicted on three counts of menacing a police officer, three counts of attempted aggravated assault on a police officer, criminal possession of a weapon, and menacing. Police say Mitchell aggressively swung a knife at three police officers at the Jehovah TMs Witnesses Kingdom Hall on Syracuse's west side earlier on February 1. The officers shot Mitchell in the arm and used a Taser on him after police say they unsuccessfully attempted to try to talk him into surrendering.
The DA TMs office says that by indicting Mitchell on the above charges, the Grand Jury found that the officers were justified in shooting him.
The Grand Jury has not taken any action against the officers in the case. They were identified by the DA TMs office as Robert Newman, Rodney Fitzgerald, and Thomas Nicolini.
Updated 3:30 p.m. February 2:
Documents in Syracuse City Court say 19-year-old Ravaun Mitchell is charged with menacing a police officer for aggressively swinging a knife with a 4" to 5" blade. Mitchell is also accused of criminal posession of a weapon related to swinging that knife at three police officers at the Kingdom Hall on Syracuse's west side Tuesday afternoon.
The court assigned attorney Donald Van Stry to defend Mitchell. He's due to appear in court at 10:00 a.m. on February 7th.
The names of the officers are not included in the court documents. The Chief of Police is withholding those names while a grand jury investigates whether the use of force was justified. All three officers are on administrative leave following the shooting.
Click here to download and read a copy of the felony complaint against Mitchell.
February 2 morning update:
A Syracuse man is under arrest after being accused of charging at police with a knife.
The trouble started around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday when police say 19-year-old Ravaun Mitchell of 148 Webster Avenue walked into the Kingdom hall of Jehovah's Witnesses on West Fayette Street holding a knife. Investigators say he was acting "menacingly."
Police say they told Mitchell to put down the knife, but they say he didn't comply and charged at the responding officers with the knife. That's when police shot Mitchell in the shoulder and arm. Three shots were fired and police used a Taser. Later in the ambulance, police say Mitchell asked them why they didn't hit him in the heart.
Police say the man has no connection to Kingdom Hall.
Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler says he spoke with Mitchell's grandmother, who says Mitchell has been battling mental health issues. "Now we have a young man whose going to be able to get the help that he needs instead of having a fatality on our hands," Fowler said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
Mitchell was scheduled to be arraigned at the hospital today. He's charged with menacing a police officer and criminal possession of a weapon.
The three officers involved will not be named until a grand jury reviews the case, which is expected to happen on Friday. Per standard protocol, the officers were placed on administrative leave.
Original story from February 1:
Police say around 1:45 p.m. a man walked into the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses on the 1900 block of West Fayette street holding a knife. Investigators say he was acting 'menacingly'.
Several officers arrived on the scene and asked him to drop the knife. When he refused, the officers opened fire and hit the man in the shoulder. He was taken to Upstate University Hospital, but is expected to be okay.
Police say the man has no connection to Kingdom Hall. Officers are still trying to figure out what he was doing there. His name has not yet been released.