Des Moines Officer Won’t Be Charged After Gunning Down Unarmed Man From Her Car

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A Des Moines police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man from her patrol car in June will not face criminal charges.  A grand jury decided Wednesday that charges were not warranted.

28-year old Ryan Bolinger was gunned down by Officer Vanessa Miller June 9th.  Police say Bolinger was acting erratically when he pulled up to an officers police car, got out, began dancing, then drove off.  Police chased him for a few blocks.  He was stopped on Merle Hay Road.  Officers say Bolinger then got out of his car and approached Miller's patrol car "Walking with a purpose", so she opened fire through the window of her closed car door, striking Bolinger in the torso.

Zach Piper was friends with Bolinger.  He says Bolinger lived for his family.   “He had a girl with a baby on the way and it’s not a good situation. It’s not fair.” Piper said.

Des Moines' police chief was not available for a comment tonight, but days after the shooting Des Moines Police Sergeant Jason Halifax told reporters the department's policy on lethal force leaves decisions like shooting a suspect largely up to officers.   “It all has to do with how an officer perceives the situation." Halifax said, "What they’re feeling at the time. It’s what they’re seeing. It’s what they’re experiencing. There’s not a hard fast this is when you shoot and this is when you don’t”

Des Moines police are allowed to use deadly force if they believe it is necessary to protect themselves or others from a serious threat. Officer Miller remains on administrative duty.  Des Moines police are not releasing the police car dash board video of the incident, citing an internal investigation into the shooting.

Polk County Attorney John Sarcone said he believes the grand jury was "Very thorough."

Piper disagrees.  He says he believes officer Miller just got away with murder.  “Absolutely. Yeah." Piper said, "That makes me pretty upset. It makes me really not trust the legal system.”

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