Man Killed in Des Moines Police Shooting Identified

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The Des Moines Police Department has confirmed the name of a man shot to death by a police officer late Tuesday night.

Ryan Bolinger, 28, of West Des Moines died after he was shot once in the torso by Officer Vanessa Miller. Miller is a seven year veteran of the department.

The shooting happened just after 10:00 p.m. near the intersection of Urbandale Avenue and Merle Hay Road.

Police say it all started with an unrelated traffic stop at the intersection of Merle Hay Road and Aurora Avenue a little before 10:00 p.m. During the stop, a vehicle driven by Bolinger pulled up next to Officer Ian Lawler’s squad car, blocking the police officer’s door.

According to police, Bolinger got out of the vehicle and danced around erratically before leaving the scene in his car. An officer followed in a slow-speed chase.

Bolinger eventually did a U-turn near the intersection of Urbandale Avenue and Merle Hay Road. Police say he got out of his vehicle and made a quick advance toward Officer Miller’s squad car.

According to police, Officer 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 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 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.”

The officers involved are being placed on administrative leave and a grand jury will likely be convened in the shooting.


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