Police Abuse

Cop Fires Gun Through Rolled Up Window to Shoot and Kill Unarmed Des Moines Man

Police investigating, but say only cop who shot can determine if she feared for her life

|

WHOTV/Twitter

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.

NEXT: Presidential comments on pending Supreme Court decisions

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. He rejected society’s rules. What did he expect?

    1. He was doing the lambada, the forbidden dance. The police had no choice.

  2. He says it is up to the officer’s digression [sic] to determine whether or not he or she feels in danger.

    Why bother investigating then?

    1. I think that’s entirely the point.

    2. They’ve got to pretend like they give a shit.

  3. He said the car does not serve as a barrier of protection against a threatening suspect because windows can break.

    Especially when bullets are propelled through them.

  4. Cops should not be allowed to be armed because they are way too trigger happy in this country. They should have to call in armed police if they perceive a real threat.

    1. The problem then is they’ll be calling in SWAT teams on anything more than a routine traffic stop. And even then if the cop “feels threatened” (e.g. perceives that you’re not respecting their authoritah enough) they’ll call in SWAT for speeding tickets.

  5. We need a separate category of police shootings. There’s the “I just fucking killed you for resisting/talking back/running away/etc”, and then there’s “I just shot you because I am a pants-shitting pussy who would shoot my grandmother if she surprised me in a dark alley”. These are two totally distinct types of FYTW.

    1. I wonder what would happen to me if someone who was unarmed walked up to my car and I shot him through the window because I felt “threatened”. Actually, I don’t wonder at all.

    2. Cops can’t have rules dictating when they may use deadly force! They might second guess themselves and allow some uppity peasant to live!

  6. All Cops lives matter.

  7. “Digression” was probably a Freudian slip. Sometimes we unintentionally say what we really think.

  8. I guess rolling down the window and telling the guy to knock off the clowning was right out.

  9. But just how bad was this guy’s dancing?

  10. Perhaps there ought to be.

    That’s ridiculous. The correct answer s always, “Shoot.”
    RESISTANCE IS FATAL.

    1. Nice. Well, sorta. You know what I mean. *sigh* šŸ™

  11. 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…

    Surely you’re not suggesting that cops be required to follow some kind of Rules of Engagment like soldiers in a warzone, are you? There’s a WAR ON COPS(TM) going on… wait…

    1. Not yet there’s not.

      1. Isolated incidents …. so far.

  12. Did the officer make it home safe to her family?

  13. A Des Moines Police Department Spokesperson says in the academy and training courses, officers are taught how to shoot sitting down.

    …while eating a doughnut.

    However, Sergeant Jason Halifax, said it’s rare an officer is forced to shoot through a car window.

    It’s never actually happened in Des Moines, not even in this case.

    It all has to do with how an officer is perceiving the situation and what they are feeling at the time…

    So it’s a good idea to track your local LEO’s periods before heading out on the roads.

  14. He made a move. She had to get it on.

  15. Wait- whose window was rolled up? The cunt cop’s? She gets to kill a guy for no reason, deafening herself in the process, and then retire on disability because of her own colossal stupidity?

    Is this a great country, or what?

    1. She gets to kill a guy for no reason, deafening herself in the process, and then retire on disability because of her own colossal stupidity?

      Came here to say this. Won’t somebody please think of the cop’s eardrums?!?

      Really, she should get extra disability retirement for it.

      1. Rest easy. That’s a given.

  16. Why wouldnt the cop crack the window 3 inches and taze? I dont understand, all the tools at thier disposal, pepper spray, tazers, batons, hand to hand training, whats the point of all that if they just pull the gun out straightaway?
    Rubber bullets.. thier are so many ways to fix this problem…

    1. Because then Bollinger would have had time to dance erratically in her presence, and that would just not do. Everyone knows that a cop’s aesthetic displeasure is infinitely more important than the life of a mere peasant.

      1. This is what cops actually believe!

    2. Most cops seek out the job because they are looking for an opportunity to kill people. I’m not exaggerating. One time I had the misfortune to be stuck in a bar when some off-duty cops took it over. The were quite loud and scary as they traded stories about choking people (they really like to choke people), holding their guns to women’s heads until they peed their pants, and other fun parts of the job. Eventually one of the more intoxicated ones started complaining that he’d never had the chance to kill anyone, and his buddies consoled him, assuring him that he’d get his chance. Think about that the next time you get pulled over. The person who pulled you over is itching for any excuse to choke you, hold a gun to your head until you piss yourself, or kill you. They’re hoping and praying that you’ll give them a reason. Just one reason.

      1. “Let me tell you something. They signed up to use their weapons. Most of them, all right. But they watch enough TV… so they know they have to weep after they use their weapons.

        There is no one more full of shit than a cop. Except for a cop on TV.” – Billy Costigan, The Departed

        One of the most accurate lines about cops in any movie ever.

        1. Yeah. I like that movie. A lot. Any movie where Matt Damon dies is a good one.

  17. Someone startles/annoys her, so she kills him, knowing that all she has to do is utter the magical incantation “I feared for my life” and nothing else will happen.

  18. Remember the calculation, folks:

    Cop: Shoot people to death, whether they be men or women or children, claim self defense, whether or not such claim is within the realm of possibility: No problem.

    Little person: Claim that cop should burn in hell for doing that*: Grand jury investigation.

    * Repeating earlier disclaimers, I am not Satan, and do not have the power to condemn any person to Hell. The above is nothing more than juvenile bluster.

  19. I had someone asked me the other day – in all seriousness – if I trusted “redneck Jim Bob with his open carry AR, or a trained cop.”

    Laughed so hard, I felt my spleen slip out my anus and roll away. Still haven’t found it. Laughed even hard when they couldn’t grasp why I trusted “Jim Bob.”

    1. Let’s see: Jim Bob has strong incentives not to kill someone just because? Am I right?!?!

      You should probably see a doctor about that spleen issue.

  20. This is the kind of bullshit that infuriates people. This is an obvious overreaction and the dept. stands up for her. At the very least she should be fired but I’ll bet even that doesn’t happen. She’ll continue to be a cop with an overactive trigger finger.

  21. He says it is up to the officer’s digression [sic] to determine whether or not he or she feels in danger.

    Well, yes. Each of us can feel in danger or not, and that’s totally inside our heads and thus at our discretion.

    What matters is whether they are entitled to act on their feeling alone, or whether they, like the rest of us, are required to act “reasonably” in shooting someone.

    Its the loss of the “reasonableness” requirement in evaluating cop violence that is the main legal problem, here.

    1. Its the loss of the “reasonableness” requirement in evaluating cop violence that is the main legal problem, here.

      It’s not lost. It’s assumed. Cops are always reasonable. Can’t admit that they may not be, because public trust might suffer.

    2. This. Exactly this.

      Yes, it’s up to each cop to determine whether they feel in danger or not when they take the shot; however, the rules/laws should not be any different for them than if a normal citizen took the shot insofar as if their feeling was reasonable.

      In this case, I’m pretty sure a jury would vote to convict if a non-cop had done the same thing.

  22. Wait. What color was everyone involved? I’ll need to know so I can form an opinion.

    1. The murder victim was white.

      1. Oh, well we can all forget about this then. Never happened.

  23. Sharon Marsh: Well, Randy, that was some great advice you gave our son yesterday.
    Randy Marsh: What?
    Sharon: Those cops showed up to serve Ryan again, and he danced back.
    Randy: Well, what happened?
    Sharon: It’s on.

  24. Cops don’t need more rules of engagement or more clarity on when to shoot people. They need to face consequences for doing so. If settlements were paid out of the police pension fund, if officers faced the same charges a citizen would for engaging in homicide, they would police themselves.

  25. Ryan Bollinger is white, so this story will go nowhere. Just another brave hero in blue who went home safely that night.

  26. There are judges out there that make me fear for my life.

  27. http://www.desmoinesregister.c…../71010592/

    Officers were not wearing body cameras, since the department is still in the process of making those purchases.

    “This is an instance where having a body camera would definitely have been an advantage. There are times where I’ve written things out as an officer but you can’t convey the whole situation,” Halifax said. “Video can capture the whole moment. That’s clearly one of the benefits.”

  28. I know this sounds crazy but how about making them have a REASONABLE fear of imminent death or great bodily harm before their shooting is ruled justified.

  29. Sounds suspiciously like suicide by cop. Paging Dr. Darwin.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.