University Police Deputy Chief Josh Sticht said in a Jan. 30 recording that the Erie County District Attorney’s office has convened a grand jury in connection with the death of Tyler Lewis, the Buffalo State sophomore who was fatally stabbed outside of the Ellicott Complex last October.
The recording of the conversation was obtained by The Spectrum on Tuesday and was recorded by a friend of the Lewis family in the room without Sticht’s knowledge.
Under state law, grand juries are tasked with determining whether prosecutors have enough evidence to bring charges against potential defendants.
Sticht also told the Lewis family that one person involved is a former UB student, but he would not specify the individual’s specific role in the incident.
Lewis’ parents sued UB and Buffalo State last month, alleging that both universities “failed to properly vet students prior to admission and admitted students known to have a violent history,” who then attacked Lewis. John Della Contrada, a UB spokesperson, told The Spectrum last month that “the claims made in the lawsuit are not supported by the evidence gathered in the case,” a position that he reiterated in a brief interview Wednesday.
Sticht said in the recording that everyone involved in the incident has been identified by investigators but subsequently “lawyered up,” that UPD had concluded its part of the investigation, that police stopped returning the Lewis family’s calls in December, and that the investigation “took so long” because prosecutors were planning on “charging everyone that’s possible.”
Sticht wouldn’t say how many people were involved in the incident. UPD announced the night of Lewis’ death that they were searching for “at least four individuals who may have been involved” and later asked for the public’s help in identifying a person of interest.
Sticht said that he disclosed the information to Roquishia Lewis, Tyler Lewis’ mother, in order to “give her some kind of solace.”
“Roquishia Lewis has been stronger through all of this than anyone I could imagine,” Sticht said in a phone interview Wednesday. “The night that Tyler died, I had a confidential relationship with Roquishia Lewis. She was able to give us information that was absolutely instrumental to this, and I’m disappointed that somebody in her entourage recorded me.”
In his interview with The Spectrum, Sticht wouldn’t confirm or deny many of the details disclosed in the recording, but he did confirm that UPD had finished its part of the investigation and that UPD stopped returning the Lewis family’s calls after the DA’s Office requested to take over direct communication with the Lewis family.
“I can promise all of you, like I promised you that first night: We will never let this go,” Sticht said in the recording.
A spokesperson for the DA’s Office declined to comment, citing “the ongoing investigation.” Erie County DA John Flynn said in a Feb. 1 statement that his office’s investigation into the death of Tyler Lewis is “nearly complete.”
“I’m still shaky with it,” Roquishia Lewis said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I’m hopeful. I mean, I have to. I have no choice.”
Grant Ashley is the managing editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant Ashley is the editor in chief of The Spectrum. He's also reported for NPR, WBFO, WIVB and The Buffalo News. He enjoys taking long bike rides, baking with his parents’ ingredients and recreating Bob Ross paintings in crayon. He can be found on the platform formerly known as Twitter at @Grantrashley.