On Monday, police in Iowa shot dead an unarmed teenager after a family dispute, and his relatives are now demanding answers.
According to The Associated Press, Tyler Comstock, 19, of Boone, was fatally shot the morning of Nov. 4 after a car chase with police ended on Iowa State University’s central campus in Ames.
Explaining how the teen found himself in a face-off with police, Comstock’s family says that the events of that fateful morning had been triggered by an argument between the young man and his father.
“He just wanted a pack of cigarettes, and his dad wouldn’t buy him a pack of cigarettes and he freaked out,” the teen’s mother, Shari Comstock, told the Iowa State Daily.
After the feud, Comstock reportedly got into his father’s car and took off.
That’s when his dad, James Comstock, decided to call the police to report his vehicle stolen.
“He took off with my truck. I call the police, and they kill him,” James Comstock told the Des Moines Register. It is believed that the truck belonged to the lawn care company for which the father and son both worked.
After James Comstock’s call, police were soon on the teenager’s tail. Comstock, however, reportedly refused to stop his vehicle and rammed into an officer’s car. Police then pursued him to Iowa State University’s campus in Ames.
Eventually surrounded by cops, Comstock finally came to a stop on the school’s Central Campus, but the young man reportedly ignored orders to turn his engine off.
It was then that a police officer named Adam McPherson is said to have fired six shots into the truck. The teen, believed to have been unarmed, died from two gunshot wounds, per the AP.
Comstock’s family is flabbergasted as to how a minor family dispute turned into an unspeakable tragedy.
“So he didn’t shut the damn truck off, so let’s fire six rounds at him? We’re confused, and we don’t understand,” Comstock’s step-grandfather, Gary Shepley, told the Register.
According to dispatch audio obtained by the news outlet, an unidentified police staffer suggested on two different occasions during the chase that officers back off their pursuit of Comstock. (Listen to the dispatch at the Des Moines Register.)
“I don’t understand [why this happened] when I blatantly heard them say, ‘Hey, we know who this is. It’s a kid, back off.’ I don’t get it,” Comstock’s mom told the Iowa State Daily after listening to the audio tape of the dispatch.
Police say Comstock may have put lives in danger when he drove through the university and that student pedestrians had to dodge his truck “to avoid being run over,” per the AP.
However, his mother questioned the officers’ actions and how they may have affected the situation.
“Why the hell would they chase him into campus with all the people?” she told the State Daily. “Tyler would never hurt anybody, ever. He was just a scared child. He’s pretty rational when he calms down.”
In the video below, watch as Iowa State University students react to the campus shooting: