Tyler Comstock, 19, of Boone, Iowa wanted his father James to buy him a pack of cigarettes and his father refused, so he took his father's truck without permission. James reported his truck stolen by his son from a worksite that he and Tyler had been working on, hoping to teach him a lesson. Now he is planning his son's funeral as an Ames, Iowa officer responding to the call shot Tyler dead as the young man was a danger to the officers and those around him.
"He took off with my truck. I call the police, and they kill him," James Comstock told The Des Moines Register on Tuesday. "It was over a damn pack of cigarettes. I wouldn't buy him none."
"And I lose my son for that," Comstock added.
Comstock had a history of getting in trouble with the law, but nothing of this magnitude.
Ames Police officer Adam McPherson has been with the Ames Police Department for more than eight years and was the one that responded to call. This was the first time McPherson had drawn and fired his weapon in an incident.
Comstock had apparently driven into the heart of Iowa State University.
According to KCRG.com:
The incident began at 10:17 a.m. Monday when Ames police received a report of a stolen vehicle from a man who said his son had become upset and taken his pickup truck and trailer, according to a news release. McPherson responded, according to (Ames police Cmdr. Geoff) Huff, and located the truck at Grand Avenue and South 4th Street.
McPherson reportedly followed the vehicle initially before activating his emergency lights. But, instead of pulling over, Comstock is accused of speeding up and continuing west to Beach Avenue. Comstock, at one point, is accused of stopping the vehicle and reversing, pushing the trailer into the police car and partially onto its hood, according to police.
Comstock then sped away again, police reported, running a red light and becoming unhitched from the trailer. McPherson continued to follow the truck around Union Drive and eventually north on Morrill Road – against one-way traffic in the bike and pedestrian lanes, according to police.
Witnesses told police that people were jumping out of the way of the truck, which then jumped the curb onto a grassy area north of the university's Campanile. McPherson unsuccessfully tried to ram the vehicle to get it to stop, police reported.
Apparently Comstock had no concerns for pedestrians who were jumping out of the way of the truck.
The officer, according to police, gave multiple verbal warnings to Tyler to turn off the vehicle. Instead, police say he revved the engine (dashcam footage shows Comstock had just rammed a second police cruiser), though the truck did not move as officers were approaching. Dashcam footage below shows the truck was not stopped until shots were fired, but does show the danger that Comstock posed to other people and property prior to being rammed. No verbal commands can be heard from officers.
McPherson then fired seven rounds into the truck "to stop the ongoing threat to the public and the officers," according to police.
While Tyler was not armed with a gun, it seems clear from the witnesses and the officer's account that he was endangering the lives of others with the vehicle, prior to stopping. I admit that I don't understand why he was shot when the vehicle was stopped and no longer endangering anyone though. I suppose it is possible that he would not have heard verbal commands. However, watch and listen to the dashcam footage below and see if you fail to hear any verbal commands. I certainly didn't hear any. In fact, just seconds after the police cruiser rams the truck, seven shots can be distinctly heard being fired without any verbal commands being given.
Dash cam footage from 2 different patrol car perspectives:
Comstock was taken to Mary Greeley Medical Center and was pronounced dead.
Tyler's mother went to Facebook writing, "My baby boy is gone after Ames police shot him this morning after a chase! Please take a moment to honor him today, I will never forgive myself for not doing more for him as his mother!"
She went on to write, "Please be patient while the dci investigates and hopefully we will know all the facts soon."
"Maybe officer didn't hear dispatcher like perhaps my son didn't hear their commands over a revving engine," she later added. "Please tell me this is not real!!!! By the way, did they tell him to turn off the truck or get out of the vehicle? I've heard both from them, any witnesses wanna clarify this for me?"
God knows my heart goes out to parents losing their son. However, it seems to me there was a problem as soon as the young man took the truck without permission. Second, his own actions demonstrate that he was not concerned with the safety of others or simply pulling over and dealing with the police officer in a mature manner. The father is obviously rethinking his actions as well.
Officer McPherson was cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident on Thursday, and the investigation has been closed.
The reality is that it all could have been avoided had Tyler Comstock not engaged in reckless behavior, endangering himself and others.
This is most definitely a tragedy that a young man lost his life when he could have simply pulled over and dealt with the officer. This is what I was taught to do when I was growing up, and it is what I teach my own kids to do. While I realize there are many bad law enforcement officers, I do not think they represent the majority of those in law enforcement. I was taught to respect their authority, which is an expounding of the principle of the Fifth Commandment. I wish Tyler Comstock had been taught the same thing.
Here's edited audio of Ames police dispatch.
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