POLICE SHOOTING: Officials Say Ames Officer ‘Justified’

Story County Attorney Stephen Holmes says an Ames police officer was justified in the fatal shooting of a suspect who fled from police earlier this week.

Officials released the information during a news conference Thursday morning in Ames.

Nineteen-year-old Tyler Comstock of Boone was killed Monday after leading police on a chase that ended on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames.

Police dash cam video shows Comstock rammed squad cars with the truck he was driving while trying to get away. He also blew through a red light at the intersection of Lincoln Way and Beach. He also drove the truck backward on ISU’s campus, almost hitting someone.

In audio recordings from the chase dispatchers are heard telling officers they could back off because they knew who the suspect was. Officers slowed down, but continued pursuit when Comstock went through a red light.

Comstock hit a tree on campus and officers surrounded the truck. It’s unclear whether Officer Adam McPherson heard the second call to back off from dispatchers because it happened when he was exiting his vehicle. McPherson fired seven shots at the truck. Comstock was hit twice and died from wounds to the head and chest. Police originally reported only six shots were fired.

In a letter detailing the investigation, Holmes says the evidence shows Officer McPherson acted reasonably under very difficult circumstances and was justified in using deadly force.

Holmes says Comstock’s state of mind during the chase can’t be excused and he had many opportunities to stop for police. He says police ran out of options and had no other choice but to shoot Comstock.

Commander Geoff Huff with Ames Police says Comstock’s actions during the chase showed a “willful and wanton disregard for the safety of every citizen in the area.”

Officer McPherson was placed on administrative leave during the shooting investigation. There is no timetable for when he will return to active duty.

17 comments

  • Elsie and Reggie Jackson

    This is ridiculous. He wasn’t going to go much further- he crashed the truck into a tree. The officer was much too quick to resort to deadly force. There should be a federal investigation to allieviate public concerns of over reaction. This was a troubled 19 year old kid from what I can tell. There was no indication that he had a firearm or weapons of any kind. I recognize the car can be considered as such. But I think there is something wrong with this country if the police can now shoot and ask questions later. WE ARE NOT in a 3rd world country where war and gun warfare is a standard mode of operation. I know hind-sight is 20/20, but in my heart I feel there should have been viable alternatives. For example, why couldn’t the officer have tried to take out the tires of the truck, ram the truck with his patrol car and/or just wait for further backup. I recognize the risk and I am very concerned about the safety on college campuses; I have a child attending ISU. However, as a parent I know kids don’t always do the smart thing. We pray such incidents don’t lead to such tragic results. Nevertheless, we should demand further investigation and answers to reasonable questions about other alternatives and not be so quick to accept a conclusion of “justified”. This is a tragedy all the way around. Answers must be provided.

    • Don Hocking

      What further investigation would satisfy you – until they find reason to charge the officer? These types of situations are never taken lightly and have been investigated by at least three different entities and all the evidence leads to the conclusion that this was a justified – albeit tragic – event. Have you ever faced a situation such as the officer faced that morning? Let us not cast stones or aspersions without knowing all the facts and you sir do not have all the facts.

      Why did the father report the vehicle as stolen rather than taken without owner consent? Did he not take into account the ramifications of his actions? Should we now file on the father for filing a false police report?

      Do not the parents know there son best? Did they not say that he has anger issues and that he often gets out of control – to the point that they can not reign him in? How then do you expect an officer to try and control him? Based on the video that I saw – this was a very dangerous situation for all involved – including the general public in which the police are sworn to protect.

      I have anger issues and some would say that I get out of control but even I know that when the police are pointing guns at me – I listen. This officer apparently had to make a life or death decision in a moment’s instance, then live with the consequences for the rest of his life. Have you considered what the officer is dealing with or will be dealing with for the rest of his life?

      Don’t be too quick to judge. Sounds to me like you have issues with the establishment anyway – based on your 3rd world comment.

    • Jon

      Obviously you missed the last part of the video, where the officer steps out of his car…(you can hear the door open and the seatbelt chime)..and the trucks rams the police car attempting to basically kill the officer. The officer did everything right…sorry your point of view is so skewed…but even the county attorney agreed..and trust me, he isn’t a fan of law enforcement or Ames.

    • Balanced Perspective

      The debris being thrown in the video is the young man rocking his truck and spinning his tires to peel away from where he was stuck. He was not “pinned” against the tree, he was stuck on something by it.

  • Rebecca Hergert

    Well, maybe they should of wing-him!
    But it sounds like this kid couldn’t calm/simmer himself down & wasn’t gonna.
    Don’t get in the car if you are up-set,or in a rage, cause the cops are gonna take you out!!

    • Don Hocking

      The police DO NOT and NEVER WILL “take someone out” without justification. To suggest such is ludicrous. I would agree with you that this young man should have found a better medium in which to air his grievance or deal with his issues and that his decision tragically led to his death but let us not blame the police for doing what had to be done to protect themselves and the general public. As I have stated in previous posts – this incident and similar incidents – are investigated by several different entities and in this case – the evidence supported a finding of “justifiable.”

      • Watcher

        The police DO NOT and NEVER WILL “take someone out” without justification?” What a pile of self-righteous BS. THE POLICE ALWAYS JUSTIFY THEIR KILLINGS. It happens all the time – each week we hear the reports from all around the country. The police knew who the kid was and where he lived, and no high speech chase was necessary. Cops are all too ready to shoot to kill as a first response these days. The kid was boxed in, in his vehicle in the end. He wasn’t going anywhere. So what if he put some dents in the police car. No one was in deadly peril from that. No one tried to shoot the tires rather than the kid, or just wait for the kid to calm down. If the police aren’t good enough shots to take out tires, they shouldn’t be issued guns. Chalk it up to one more killing by the police that gets the official white wash. Police car damaged, kid dies. DA satisfied, everyone gets a pat on the back and goes home – or, almost all go home. The boy goes to the morgue.

    • BobDole

      Let me ram you a few times with a large pickup and we will see if you feel differently. The blame lies entirely on the driver of the truck. It’s amazing more people weren’t seriously injured or killed by his reckless decisions. (And all because he was upset about a pack of smokes!)

  • Momk90

    If you watch the video it’s lucky he didn’t kill someone with this truck. He barely missed a car at Lincolnway clearly not intending to slow down. The last time he plowed into the police car just proves he was trying to hurt someone with his “weapon”, his truck.

  • John Pubblic

    So glad the moderators screen comments and delete the ones that tell the blunt truth. He got what he deserved. Obviously not a stable individual who steals a vehicle (as reported by his father) after Daddy wouldn’t buy him cigarettes. I know I often fly off when no one buys me nicotine. Then repeatedly rams police vehicles, endangers public safety and refuses to comply when the police tell him to stop. The weapon is mentioned in several posts and I’m glad someone picked up on it. The stolen Ford truck was a FAR more dangerous weapon than the pistol that the officer drew, not only for self defense, but for the welfare of the public. For the jackasses that are condemning the police for being too gung-ho, if the time ever comes that you would happen to need one of these gun happy cops, you’ll be singing a different tune.

  • michael

    Well to all who think it is ok to shoot your son for driving like he was. Just tink about how you would fill about the cops shooting your son before shooting the tires out and letting it go all the way to the campus. And it not like the kid was looking for cops to get out of a car just to ram it just to hurt the cops. So before you go off saying it a good job for the officers. Just ask yourself if you could live without your son after what we all know. I hope yhe family files a law suit.

  • Ann Johnson

    Shoot the tires of a speeding truck? Have you watched too many cop shows? Did you seriously want the officer leaning out the window in the midst of a high speed chase to shoot at the guy’s tires?
    The kid overreacted over a package of cigarettes, overreacted over a police officer pursuing him, overreacted by ramming police cars, and overreacted as he could hit or killed people on these busy streets.
    What would you have to say if some ISU kid was killed by this person?

  • Sam Osborne

    In words Cool Hand Luke repeated after they had first been issued by the captain of his prison guards, “What we got here is failure to communicate.” In large part, the failure seems to have come of living for a moment— and who knows or would admit how much longer— in whatcha’ might call a bit of a dysfunctional situation.

    In the echo of this tragedy at this more comfortable distance, great sorrow and feelings of personal guilt might be a better break from what appears to have been broken than anger and condemnation of others. You know, hey, the kid just barrowed the old man’s pickup and there was no reason for the police to back off from what they had never been called into in the first place.

    End of story? Not so easy; the story goes on. It goes on along with sorrow and how those left behind will keep going on. And sorrow knows no stranger.

    This tale of woe has reached out and pulled in a lot of folks near and far—though maybe not very closely together. As with the officer of the law who may well feel about as guilty as anyone. And like those maybe not so much a stranger to the woe that got to be more so and here-and-now immediate, the officer that came of the scene rather lately can certainly now use some deep and loving concern from family, friends, casual acquaintances and the general public as he tries to move on. That is if he is one of the many folks fortunate enough to have some.

    And the family of the young man whose life was so tragically cut short will also need a lot of what in these times seems to be in short supply in our dear country: EMPATHY. God knows it does at times seem hard to be greatly understanding about what we all got ourselves into—sorry about raising my words about this and that.

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