Ryan Bolinger Police Shooting: Officer Kills Man For ‘Walking With A Purpose,’ Dancing In Street
Ryan Bolinger, a worker at the Iowa State Fair, was killed in a police shooting Tuesday when a Des Moines, Iowa, officer seated in a cruiser saw him walking “with a purpose” toward her car and fired through the window of the police cruiser, hitting him in the torso.
The 28-year-old Bolinger was taken to nearby Methodist Medical Center where he died of his wound. According to his Facebook page, he was the father of a baby girl.
Bolinger was not armed and according to a records check by The Des Moines Register newspaper, had no criminal record. But a police spokesperson said that his behavior in the moments prior to the shooting was “erratic,” that he was “dancing in the street” and “making unusual movements.”
The tragic and bizarre incident began as Officer Ian Lawler was engaged in a routine traffic stop at about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday night, when a car driven by Bolinger — who is believed to have no connection to the vehicle stopped by Lawler — pulled up next to Lawler’s cruiser.
Bolinger stopped his vehicle in such close proximity to Lawler’s police car that Lawler could not get his door open. But then Bolinger, according to the police account, exited his own car and began dancing and acting in a fashion that police later described as “erratic.”
“I don’t want it to be construed that he’s doing a waltz in the middle of Merle Hay Road. It’s odd, erratic behavior which begins by parking very close to the squad car that’s already on a traffic stop and getting out of your vehicle to do whatever he was doing in the street.”
Bolinger then got back into his own vehicle and drove off. Lawler chased him, albeit at low speed. Another officer, Vanessa Miller, joined Lawler in the chase, conducted at about 35 miles per hour, police estimated.
After several minutes, Bolinger made a sudden U-turn and stopped. Miller stopped her vehicle behind Bolinger’s car, with Lawler boxing him in from in front.
That’s when Bolinger got out of his car again and began walking toward Miller’s squad car. Halifax described Bolinger as “walking with a purpose” and making “a very quick advance” toward the police car.
So without getting out of her cruiser, still seated behind the wheel, Miller shot Bolinger through the window.
“It’s been a really rough day,” Bolinger’s supervisor at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Justin Kendall, told a local TV station. “You know, a few guys early this morning kind of speculating, and then when the news was actually released, there’s a lot of heartache around here.”
Police say they have no idea what motivated Bolinger’s strange behavior that night. Toxicology tests have not yet been performed to determine if the man was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Des Moines police were not equipped with body cameras and Halifax said that dashboard camera video was taken, but did not capture the actual shooting of Ryan Bolinger, who was the 505th person killed by police in the United States so far in 2015.