A female police officer fatally shot an unarmed, 28-year-old white man named Keith Bolinger for allegedly “charging” at her vehicle following his “unusual” behaviour and a short car chase in Des Moines, Iowa.
Officer Vanessa Miller fired the round that hit and killed Bolinger at the scene, when he tried to approach a police car on Tuesday evening, the Des Moines Register reported. In the lead up to the shooting, police and witnesses, said Bolinger had led two officers in a car chase through the streets Des Moines.
Bolinger was walking towards the officers “with a purpose,” insisted Sgt. Jason Halifax of the Des Moines Police Department during a press conference concerning the shooting on Wednesday.
No weapons were found on Bolinger or at the scene of his death. It’s unclear whether Miller thought he was armed at the time.
The incident began when Bolinger pulled up next to a police cruiser, so close that the officer allegedly couldn’t open the door. Bolinger then got out and began to act “erratically” by “making unusual movements in the street.”
When Bolinger returned to his car and began to drive, officers pursued him at 35 miles per hour. After a slow chase, Bolinger made a U-turn and stopped abruptly a short distance from the squad car. He got out and walked towards the officers. Miller shot one round through her rolled-up window and hit Bolinger in the torso.
“There’s never any guarantee that your window’s going to remain intact from any type of outside blow… whether it’s from a baseball bat or a rock,” Halifax said.
The police dash-cam was running, but didn’t capture the shooting. Body microphones were also on at the time, but the recordings won’t be made available until after the grand jury investigation.
“This is an instance where having a body camera would definitely have been an advantage. There are times where I’ve written things out as an officer but you can’t convey the whole situation,” Halifax said. “Video can capture the whole moment. That’s clearly one of the benefits.”
Halifax told the Register that he expects a grand jury to evaluate the case in addition to the department’s internal investigation. Both officers are on administrative leave until the investigation is completed, which is part of department policy.