The Erie County District Attorney’s Office won’t oppose a motion from the family of Tyler Lewis to unseal the names of those involved in Lewis’ death by stabbing, a spokesperson for the DA’s office said.
A State Supreme Court judge will now decide whether to release that information.
“Our office has submitted our consent to the Lewis family’s motion to the Court… [and] has asked the Court to expedite its decision,” Kait Munro, a spokesperson for the DA’s office, said in a statement. “At this time, we are awaiting a decision from the Court.”
Lewis’ family would use the list of names, sealed by law and previously known only to the grand jury impaneled in the criminal investigation, in an ongoing wrongful death suit against those involved in Lewis’ death. Lewis, a 19-year-old Buffalo State student at the time of his death, was fatally stabbed outside North Campus’ Ellicott Complex on Oct. 14, 2022.
In March 2023, after a five-month investigation, a grand jury declined to press criminal charges against anyone involved with Lewis’ death. After the decision, Erie County DA John Flynn called it a “justifiable” case of self defense under New York State law.
The Lewis family’s $10 million civil lawsuit in State Supreme Court already lists one individual by name and accuses them of entering Lewis’ dorm room to cover up evidence. It also accuses an as-of-yet unnamed defendant of “lunging” at Lewis with a “large knife” and fatally stabbing him in the chest.
Although the DA’s office isn’t listed as a defendant, the civil suit claims the DA’s office “did not completely and thoroughly investigate” Lewis’ death.
Roquishia Lewis, Tyler Lewis’ mother, says she hasn’t heard any updates from the DA’s office since it announced two weeks ago that it wouldn’t block her motion to unseal the names.
Roquishia Lewis, who has previously criticized the DA in its handling of the case, says she’s tired of waiting for answers.
“I’ve spent thousands of dollars on lawyers just to find out what happened to Tyler,” Roquishia Lewis said. “It’s disgusting. Why were these boys protected in the first place? They aren’t victims. It happened almost a year ago, and I still have no answers.”
Due to her previous experiences, Roquishia Lewis is skeptical that the information will be unsealed by the end of the week, as she was told it would be during a Monday phone call to the DA’s office. During the initial investigation into her son’s death, the DA’s office told her that once the criminal investigation was completed, they would meet with her and her family first. She says that never happened. Instead, she found out what happened to her son through a public press conference.
“When the world found out what allegedly happened, is when we found out,” she said.
Roquishia Lewis isn’t sure what her next steps are after the names and other pieces of evidence are unsealed. She says she will consult her lawyer before deciding what actions to take.
“It’s nerve-racking,” she said. “Eleven months and still no answers. They assassinated my son’s character. I’m only asking for justice. We just need to figure out what exactly happened to Tyler.”
The Lewis family had previously filed another civil suit against UB and Buffalo State University, which is pending in State Supreme Court.
Kayla Estrada is a senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant Ashley is the editor-in-chief and can be reached at email@example.com
Kayla Estrada is a senior news/features editor at The Spectrum. She is an English major who enjoys rainy weather, “Bob’s Burgers” and asking people who they voted for. When she’s not writing, she can be found hunting for odd-looking knick-knacks at the nearest thrift store.
Grant Ashley is the editor in chief of The Spectrum. He's also reported for 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.