Expert: Cruiser a ‘tool’ in stopping alleged killer

Kent County

Warning: This report contains a mug shot of the suspect that some viewers may find graphic.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A criminal justice professor and former police lieutenant said the officer who hit a suspected murderer with his patrol car was using the vehicle appropriately to stop a violent person.

“A patrol car is a tool,” said Dr. Kristin Poleski, a criminal justice professor at Ferris State University. “You have seconds, split seconds, to make a decision, to evaluate the situation. … Officers did need to take action quickly in the safest manner possible for everybody.”

Adam Nolin was hit by the cruiser Thursday after leading police on a chase along US-131 into downtown Grand Rapids. Police were pursuing Nolin because he was suspected of shooting and killing his girlfriend Tia Randall, who was found dead in Wyoming earlier that morning.

Nolin crashed his pickup truck on the S-curve, then allegedly started shooting at police. They returned fire, but no one was actually shot. The suspect then took off running, and video from a nearby WOOD TV8 skycam recorded a Grand Rapids Police Department cruiser hitting him.

The suspect was taken to the hospital. He has since been released and booked in the Kent County jail.

Poleski worked for GRPD for 19 years. She left the department at the lieutenant rank in 2004 to take a deputy police chief position out of state. Her husband is a current Grand Rapids police officer. He was not involved in Thursday’s incident and Poleski said her knowledge of what happened is limited to what has been aired on the news.

Poleski said she has already used video of the encounter in the classroom while teaching students about justifiable force. In this case, she said, it seemed obvious that officers had to do something fast given the level of violence exhibited by the suspect and the fact that the situation was unfolding on a busy highway.

“He clearly continued to be a threat to the officers and anybody else,” Poleski said.

Nolin’s mugshot was released over the weekend and shows significant injuries to his face.

Poleski said those injuries don’t seem to be the fault of any officer.

“The officer is not making the decision on the level of force to use,” Poleski said. “It’s the suspect that’s making the decision on level of force.”

Nolin, 33, has been charged with attempted murder among other counts  in connection to the chase and officer-involved shooting. He has not yet been charged in connection to Randall’s death.

Randall left behind two young children. Her funeral services are scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday at Lake Funeral Home in Ionia, after which she will be interred at Easton Cemetery, according to her online obituary.

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