Tyler Comstock, an unarmed teen, was shot dead by police in Ames, Iowa, on November 4, reports The Des Moines Register.
Comstock was shot by officer Adam McPherson, an eight-year-veteran of the force, after leading police on a chase that ended, tragically, on the campus of Iowa State University. The 19-year-old had taken his dad's truck on a joyride, and the dad told cops. In total, seven (originally it was reported that six were fired) shots were fired by cops with two hitting Comstock in the head and chest. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at an area hospital.
The teenager's funeral was held on November 8 in Slater, Iowa, reports The Ames Tribune.
You can watch the shocking dash-cam footage of the incident above.
Here's what you need to know:
1. Cops Ignored the Dispatcher's Calls for Them to 'Back Off'
According to reports, Comstock's father refused to buy his son cigarettes and in retaliation, the 19-year-old stole his dad's truck. The father and son worked together at a lawn care business, Spring-Green Lawn Care, reports KCRG. The dispatcher reportedly said, "The son got mad at his dad and took off with the truck."
When cops caught up with Comstock on the campus of Iowa State University, they opened fire, killing the 19-year-old. The officers ignored the 911 dispatcher who told them twice to back off on their pursuit, as they knew the identity of the driver.
The horrifying dash-cam footage (top of the article) shows Comstock driving erratically as he hits a cop car, with parts of his own vehicle flying off. One officer on the scene said:
We've got shots fired, he's ramming us again, shots fired.
Police then call for an ambulance, saying they had a person in a vehicle who was unresponsive. The shooting happened in the area of the ISU campus known as Campanile, which The Des Moine Register says is "considered the heart of campus."
2. The Cop Who Killed Tyler Has Already Been Cleared
After determining that officer McPherson pursued Comstock with the appropriate care and the teen was driving erratically and endangering the safety of others, the Ames PD have determined McPherson's force was justified.
He has been placed on paid leave, which is standard practice after a shooting like this. There is no set-date for his return to duty.
The Des Moines Register reports that McPherson is an eight-year-veteran of the force. He was the first cop to pursue Comstock, at Grand Avenue and South 4th Street in Ames, Iowa (shown here):
The local county attorney, Stephen Holmes said:
It's my conclusion that officer McPherson acted reasonably under very difficult circumstances and McPherson's use of deadly force was justified. In watching the videos I can't help but express my concern that it was only by sheer luck that no one else was seriously injured or killed by Mr. Comstock. Comstock's actions did not allow any amount of time for the officers to devise or employ other "means" to mitigate or defuse the situation ahead of the shooting...
Ames Police Department Commander Geoff Huff said:
The officers back off when it was suggested by the supervisor but continue with lights and siren as a warning to other bystanders. The officers attempted numerous times to stop the suspect. The suspect had every opportunity to stop the truck and comply with the officer's lawful commands.
He chose not to. At the end of the pursuit, the officers were out of options, with two disabled squad cars and a suspect still attempting to harm the officers and posing a real and deadly risk to everyone in that area officer McPherson fired into the truck to stop the threat and stopped firing once it appeared the threat had been reduced.
They (officers) felt threatened. We had police cars that were rammed by the suspect. We made a number of attempts to stop the suspect that were unsuccessful and I think there was a fear that other people were, you know, in danger at that point.
3. Comstock Has a Minor Criminal Record
According to reports in Iowa, Comstock has numerous convictions for minor drug and driving offenses. The Associated Press reports that Comstock was not armed during the shooting and had been trying to get his life back on track.
According to KCCI, Comstock had been living in a homeless shelter in addition to working with his father. In the report the director of the shelter says:
I seen him the night before. The night before he was calm. We'd all seen him, you know, just before he left we had all seen him and knowing he was just going to work with his dad. You know you don't expect something like that.
4. Comstock's Family Members Are Outraged
The boy's step-grandfather, Gary Shepley, has seriously questioned the actions of the cops. In total, six shots were fired, two of which killed the teen. Gary Shepley is asking why the cops didn't back away from the truck, as suggested by one of the officers during the chase. An official statement from the family read:
The James Comstock family is still trying to put all the pieces & information together. We are all deeply sadden by the loss of Tyler. He was loved by many. We are all heartbroken over the way it ended and just wish there could of been a different way. So many unanswered questions, but this family doesn't feel as if it was justified. Thank you. Monica Comstock.
His mother, Shari, (Monica Comstock is his step-mother) told WHO-TV, that her son was a "bright, caring kid but outbursts like this weren't out of the ordinary...He shouldn't have been chased in that area with so many pedestrians."
A cousin of Comstock's, Blake Jensen, told KCCI:
He has to live with that for the rest of his life of guilt of killing another person's family member, which we truly loved.
Another, LaShawn Jensen, added:
He had no right to kill him or shoot him. If he would have just listened to the dispatcher we would still have him (alive). I know he was just going his job, but if he would have just listened this wouldn't even have happened.
This isn't the first tragedy to impact the family in the past week:
5. The Teen Was in a 'Complicated' Relationship With a Girl
The girl in question, Abby Eatovk, is shown on her Facebook profile, embracing another man, not Comstock.
An obituary for Comstock published in The Ames Tribune, states that he "enjoyed pitbulls, computers, engines and music." Adding:
Tyler is survived by his father, James (Monica) Comstock; mother, Shari Comstock; half sisters, Erica Snyder and Maci Comstock; step sisters, Gabrielle and Emily Scherle; step brother Nicholas Scherle; his grandparents, Russ and Joyce Comstock, Sharon and Dan Hudson; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.