Upper Pioneer Street has been defaced by the installation of a large solar-powered speed sign, the kind usually found in commercial districts or at the entrance to municipalities. Around the clock, it flashes the speed of all approaching cars along with a digital display of praise or warning, depending on the car’s speed.
It was placed there, NOT at the request of the police chief who claims to have known absolutely nothing about its installation, but at the request of a Pioneer Street resident who gave the village the money to pay for it. It suddenly appeared without any public vetting of the project whatsoever, and without regard for the residents of Pioneer Street who have to endure its unsightliness and its incessant flashing.
Residents of the village and pedestrians, particularly along Main, Chestnut and Susquehanna streets, main arteries in the village, have all observed countless motorists ignoring the very speed limit posted on the many signs they pass as they speed by. The same is true on residential side streets, such as Pioneer.
Not only has a police shooting made history in Oneonta, it’s making statewide history, too.
A new department in the state Attorney General’s Office, the Office of Special Investigations, created by Executive Order 147 after George Floyd’s death last May 25, opened its door on April 1, according to Sofia Quintanar, the AG’s deputy press secretary.
The office is empowered to “investigate and, if warranted, prosecute … a police officer … concerning any incident in which the death of a person, whether in custody or not, is caused by an act or omission.”
Five days later, on Tuesday, April 6, Tyler Green, 23, (also identified as Tyler Johnson in early reports), was shot twice after pulling a knife in a domestic dispute at 48 River St., by Sgt. Ralph Pajerski, an 18-year veteran of the Oneonta Police Department.
“This is the first in the state for our new department,” said Quintanar.
Both officers remain on the job, with Sergeant Pajerski on desk duty while the investigation is in progress, and his partner in responding to the 48 River situation, Officer Kristen Lapointe, resuming her regular duties, said OPD Chief Chris Witzenburg.
With officials and officers who have viewed Pajerski’s body cam saying it shows he acted as he had to, Witzenburg said, “The frustration for me is that it’s taking as long as it’s going to take – 6-8 weeks. But I understand they have an investigative procedure they’ve adopted, and I’m just going to have to trust it.”
In an era when everyone rushes to judgment about everything, it’s reassuring to see the sensible, restrained comments on www.AllOTSEGO.com to last week’s police shooting of Tyler Johnson, 23, of 48 River St., during a domestic dispute.
“I’m not saying the cop was wrong,” said one commentator. “The guy had a knife and was grabbing for the woman, then the kid. He even stabbed her in the leg. It’s a sad situation, but I believe the officer did his job.”
“After the guy slashed the woman’s leg, he turned to the male cop and tried to stab him in the leg, too,” wrote another.
“Cop danced back and avoided it. Happened fast.”
“Officer was absolutely correct to do what he did,” said another.
COOPERSTOWN – Eyewitness accounts of last Tuesday’s fatal shooting by a police officer on River Street “have not been accurate,” District Attorney John Muehl said this morning.
“I’ve seen the video,” said Muehl, referring to the body cam worn by Sgt. Ralph Pajerski, who twice shot Tyler Green, 23, of 48 River St., on responding to a domestic disturbance. Green, also known as Tyler Johnson, later died.
By MIKE FORSTER ROTHBART & JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
A 23-year-old man, Tyler Johnson, was shot twice in the chest after he allegedly pulled a knife at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, during a domestic dispute in a duplex at 48 River St., next to the former Foti’s Bakery.
According to Mayor Gary Herzig, who provided a report to the public via YouTube at the beginning of that evening’s Common Council meeting, two officers responded to “a domestic matter” and found a mother, a 2-year-old child and Johnson at the scene.
A neighbor said the child was Johnson’s; he identified the mother as Caitlyn Marie Calvey, and said she was Johnson’s fiancée.
“While officers were there,” said Herzig, “the third-party male did attack the mother with a knife. She sustained some wounds, but was treated and is OK. One officer acted to save the life of the child by firing two shots. The individual with the knife was injured as a result.”
ONEONTA – A few minutes ago, state police at Sidney identified the Oneonta police office the officer who “fired his duty weapon, striking the subject” as Sgt. Ralph Pajerski, an 18-year veteran of the department.
The state police press release also said the man who was shot twice in the chest was Tyler R. Green, 23; he has been identified in press reports as Tyler Johnson. He later died en route to Albany Medical Center by Medevac.
ONEONTA – Tyler Johnson, 23, shot twice by an OPD officer during an incident at 1:30 p.m. in a River Street home, has died, Mayor Gary Herzig said in a statement to the public via YouTube a few minutes ago.
COOPERSTOWN – A University of Kansas student, George Wang, charged with second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault for allegedly striking a pedestrian with his car in November in the Cooperstown Commons parking lot, today pleaded not guilty in Otsego County Court.
Wang was arraigned in County Judge John Lambert’s courtroom, represented by Otsego County Public Defender Brett Cowen. Wang told Lambert he is taking his UK classes remotely this year and has been living with his parents in Queens.
Wang’s connection to Otsego County is still unknown, said First Assistant District Attorney Christopher Di Donna.
COOPERSTOWN – The remaining suspect to be tried as an adult in the 2019 murder of Kenneth Robinson of Worcester, his son Dylan Robinson, will see his trial begin with jury selection, which is scheduled for Wednesday, April 14.
Kenneth Robinson, 53, was killed Oct. 10, 2019, in what police and prosecutors have called an attempted robbery of about $5,000 in cash and marijuana. The suspects then attempted to set fire to his house in an effort to disguise the murder.
The police apprehended six suspects soon afterward: Nicolas Meridy, then 32, of Oneonta; Dylan Robinson, then 15, of Worcester; Alexander Borggreen, then 16, of Oneonta; Anais Soto, then 15, of Oneonta; Alexis Lotterman, then 16, of Walton; and Tatiana Febo, then 17, of Downsville.
Before reacting, the Village Board is waiting to see what the marijuana-legalization bill due to pass the state Legislature April 1 looks like.
But Trustee Mac Benton, who brought the issue before the trustees at their monthly meeting Monday, March 22, is determined to push for pot-selling “storefronts” in Baseball’s mecca, seeing it as an economic-development opportunity too good to ignore.
If the new law doesn’t give the village the authority to make the decision to sell or to manufacture marijuana products, Benton said he will encourage fellow trustees to urge the county Board of Representatives to allow the village to do so.
“It the decision goes to the county,” Benton said in a text, “I’ll urge my fellow trustees to sign onto a letter to the county strongly recommending that Otsego NOT opt out.”
According to Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, there are two bills now under consideration.