News & Politics

Police Kill 19-Year-Old Iowan Who Drove Off In Parents’ Truck

The boy and his father bickered over a pack of cigarettes. Now, after a shocking incident of police brutality, the teenager is dead.

Police shot dead a 19-year-old who drove off in his father’s truck Monday, after a dispute with his father over a pack of cigarettes.


According to audio dispatches, police knew it was the boy’s father who called the police after a minor argument.  But police pursued the moving vehicle onto the Iowa State University campus, and fired six shots into the vehicle after Tyler Comstock refused to turn the car off and revved his engine.


“It was over a damn pack of cigarettes. I wouldn’t buy him none,” Tyler’s father, James Comstock, told the DesMoines Register. “And I lose my son for that.”

The truck that Tyler took was a white and green lawn care vehicle with a trailer on the back. And the family questions why police did not stop the chase and look for the easily recognizable vehicle later. But when Tyler didn’t pull over for a stop, the incident devolved into a police chase with six or seven cars involved — a violation of police department protocol, according to Iowa State Daily.


A dispatcher is heard saying, “We know the suspect, so we can probably back it off.” Someone suggested backing off a second time. But police kept going. Dashcam video of the chase shows Comstock driving erratically, as police ram his vehicle, and he in turn later rams a police vehicle.


Comstock’s vehicle was stopped on the lawn of the university, where officers approached the car and asked Comstock to get out. When he didn’t, officers fired six shots into the vehicle. Comstock died of gunshot wounds to the head and chest.


Resident calls for help that end in fatal police shootings are all too common. Just last month, a Georgia resident called 911 for medical assistance, worried about whether her fiancé was acting erratically because he had overdosed on diabetes medication. But when police arrived, they say the 43-year-old man lunged at them, and killed him in front of his fiancé, and 8-year-old daughter.


The month before that, an unarmed man was shot dead by police in North Carolina after he knocked on a resident’s door seeking help with a car accident. The residents called 911 as a precautionary measure, but police hit the 24-year-old with a Taser as he approached, and then shot him

Nicole Flatow is the Deputy Editor of ThinkProgress Justice. Previously, she was Associate Director of Communications for the American Constitution Society. Nicole has also worked for several legal and general circulation newspapers, including The Daily Record and The New York Law Journal, and was a legal fellow at Bread for the City, where she represented low-income D.C. residents in housing and public benefits matters. She received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, and her B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Law from Binghamton University, where she was editor in chief of her campus newspaper

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018