Last Tuesday, Ryan Keith Bolinger was shot and killed in Des Moines, Ill., by Officer Vanessa Miller. Bolinger’s crime was walking toward the officer’s squad car.


According to Sgt. Jason Halifax at the press conference that followed the shooting, Bolinger was “walking with a purpose” towards the police cruiser. This “purpose” is yet to be explained.


Bolinger has no record of past criminal activity. There were also no weapons found on Bolinger after the fatal shooting, so what was this “purpose” that Sgt. Halifax was referring to?


Before the shooting took place, Bolinger pulled his vehicle up next to the officer’s squad car, exited his vehicle, and proceeded to act erratically in the street. Sgt. Halifax explained the erratic behavior as dancing but that he wasn’t “making a directed motion.”


Bolinger then got back into his vehicle and took off. Two police cruisers followed Bolinger for about a mile until he stopped. The two squad cars sandwiched Bolinger’s car in so that he couldn’t drive off.


Image of a car chase on the freeway

Ryan Bollinger was caught between police cars prior to being shot and killed at the crime scene. (

After his car was stuck between the two officers, Bolinger got out and started “walking with a purpose” towards Miller’s vehicle. Miller fired one shot to Bolinger’s torso while she sat in her squad car.


Bolinger may have been acting erratically that night, but did his crime fit the punishment received? He was outnumbered and unarmed, so there wasn’t much he could have done to the officers sitting safely in their vehicles. The officers also couldn’t be sure that Bolinger had a malicious intent, yet the shot was still made.


It is unknown why Bolinger was walking towards the police cruiser and what it was that caused the erratic behavior, but with the victim dead, it is unlikely that we will have all the answers we seek.


Is there a problem with police brutality in the United States? What could have caused the erratic behavior? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.