UPDATE: 21-year-old Tyris Jones wast taken into custody at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, at a residence in Loves Park. He was arrested by members of the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Regional Task Force and booked into the Winnebago County Jail. His bond is set at $7 million.
ROCKFORD — A Rockford Police officer was legally justified when he shot and wounded a local man last month, Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross announced at a press conference Tuesday.
Hite Ross’ announcement comes three weeks after the Winnebago Boone Integrity Task Force completed its investigation into the shooting of 21-year-old Tyris Jones. Jones was shot Oct. 2 by officer Dominik McNiece during a chase on the city’s south side.
McNiece attempted to stop Jones’ vehicle but Jones sped away and crashed. Prosecutors say Jones then fled on foot and allegedly attempted to hijack another vehicle. McNiece also thought Jones had a weapon. The officer fired several shots, hitting Jones in the arm, and back.
Jones was wanted for domestic-related charges at the time of the shooting.
“At the time officer McNiece discharged his weapon in the direction of Tyris Jones, he had reason to believe that Tyris Jones posed a threat to the community. Based upon three outstanding felony warrants–one for a forcible felony–for his arrest, he was legally justified to use force he believed was necessary to prevent the escape. In addition, based upon officer McNiece’s observations of the defendant at the time, he reasonably believed that the defendant had a weapon even though a weapon was not found.”
Hite Ross said McNiece’s use of force was in accordance with Illinois law and decisions by the United States Supreme Court.
Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea commended those involved in the investigation and asked for the public’s help locating Tyris Jones, who’s now wanted on numerous charges, including first-degree murder.
“I appreciate the Winnebago Boone County Integrity Task Force conducting a thorough investigation into the officer involved shooting in October,” O’Shea said in a release. “Now that the State’s Attorney’s Office has rendered the decision advising the officer’s actions were lawful, we will begin our internal administrative review of the incident. I am thankful that the victim in the attempted vehicular hijacking was unharmed and no one was fatally injured during the pursuit and subsequent shooting. Tyris Jones, the suspect in this case, is still at large on an outstanding murder warrant and we are asking for the public’s help in locating him.”
Demonstrators who’ve been occupying Rockford City Hall in protest of the shooting for the past 53 days also addressed media Tuesday. Local activist Leslie Rolfe spoke on behalf the group and said regardless of charges against him, Jones did not deserve to be shot in the back as he ran away.
“We have an issue with police terrorism in this city and in this county,” Rolfe said from under a canopy. “Rockford and Winnebago (County Sheriff’s Office) are the textbook definition of America’s social injustice issues.”
Meanwhile, charges of attempted vehicular hijacking and aggravated fleeing have been filed against Jones in connection with the Oct. 2 chase. The charge of first-degree murder stems from a fatal shooting that occurred Sept. 26. McNiece was aware that Jones was a person of interest in that killing when he attempted to pull Jones’ car over, Hite Ross said.
Jones is currently at large. He was released from custody Nov. 6, after posting a $200,000 bond. He was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, Nov. 24, but failed to appear.