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A 19-year-old teenager, who stole a truck that was in his father's care because he refused to buy him cigarettes, was shot dead by police on the campus of Iowa State University after his father called them to teach the troubled teen a lesson.
"He took off with my truck. I call the police, and they kill him," James Comstock told The Des Moines Register on Tuesday. "It was over a damn pack of cigarettes. I wouldn't buy him none. ... And I lose my son for that."
According to the Register, police engaged the man's son, Tyler Comstock of Boone, in a high-speed chase shortly after he reported that the truck, which belonged to a lawn care company, was stolen.
A video of the chase shows Ames Police Officer Adam McPherson pursuing Comstock onto ISU's campus. It shows officers attempting to stop Tyler and when he eventually did, he refused orders to turn off the engine.
McPherson is heard on the video firing six shots into the truck and the teen died from two gunshot wounds, according to the Iowa state medical examiner's office.
His family admits that even though Tyler was a troubled teen who had some issues with the law, he was trying to get his life back together and just two weeks ago had started going to Bible study.
Tyler Comstock's family doesn't believe his death is justified, and his step-grandfather, Gary Shepley, 65, of Cambridge, said, "hard, tough questions" need to be asked about the police's actions.
Shepley said he keeps asking himself why police pursued an easily identifiable green-and-white lawn care truck into a busy part of campus. The family said police could have backed off and found the truck later.
"They're [police] professionals," said Shepley. "They're trained to handle these situations. And if they panic before they even know what's going on, then ask yourself: What if it was your child?"
The Story County Attorney's Office examining the case, however, disagreed and said the teen's death was justified because he "acted with willful disregard for the safety of others as he drove a stolen truck at a high rate of speed through red lights and then onto campus," according to a KCRG report.
Ames police Cmdr. Geoff Huff noted on Thursday that officers had "proceeded with care," in dealing with the teen doing things like reducing their speeds through intersections and backing off when supervisors suggested doing so.
"At the point when a supervisor made the comment to back off, the officer had already backed off and reduced his speed," he said. He further noted that officers chased Tyler with lights and sirens as a warning to other drivers and pedestrians.
"(Comstock) had not slowed down at all," said Huff. "We had."
"The suspect had every opportunity to stop the truck and comply with officers' lawful commands, and he chose not to," Huff said. We "were out of options with two disabled squad cars and a suspect still attempting to harm the officers and posing a real risk to others," he added.