Yesterday, police in Des Moines, Iowa, identified 28-year-old Ryan Bollinger as the victim of a fatal police shooting Tuesday night. Cops said Bollinger pulled up next to police making an unrelated traffic stop, jumped out of his car to dance erratically near the cops, then returned to his car and drove to another police vehicle, where he was shot and killed through the car window after allegedly trying to advance on the vehicle.
WHOTV in Iowa reports the details:
According to police, Officer [Vanessa] Miller was sitting in her squad car and fired one shot through her window at Bolinger, hitting him in the torso. A Des Moines Police Department Spokesperson says in the academy and training courses, officers are taught how to shoot sitting down. However, Sergeant Jason Halifax, said it's rare an officer is forced to shoot through a car window. He said the car does not serve as a barrier of protection against a threatening suspect because windows can break.
Police have confirmed Bolinger was unarmed.
Halifax says the department is still investigating the reason behind why Officer Miller felt threatened. He says it is up to the officer's digression [sic] to determine whether or not he or she feels in danger.
"The decision to use deadly force can take many forms, whether it's a weapon, a vehicle or someones [sic] hands. It all has to do with how an officer is perceiving the situation and what they are feeling at the time," he said. "There is not a hard fast decision of this is when you shoot, this is when you do don't."
Perhaps there ought to be. As individual instances of police violence yield more and more national media attention, it's important to start to focus on the systemic problems that allow such violence to go on in check. Once someone has been shot and killed, no amount of righteous anger or protest is going to bring them back. So long as cops operate without clear, objective, testable rules on when and how to use force, the killings will continue no matter how loud protesters get, and even if there are occasionally charges against police officers who kill, because nothing's being done about setting up clear, objective rules about the use of force with clear, objective, disciplinary measures for failing to follow them. Until then, no life at the mercy of a cop will really matter unless the cop wants it to.