A mentally unstable woman in Alabama was shot and killed by a police officer on April 3. Now her family is pursuing justice.
On April 3, Auburn police officers responded to a 3:40 p.m. call regarding a suicidal driver on the road.
The driver was 36-year-old Melissa Boarts, mother of a 2-year-old and a sufferer of bipolar manic depression.
Melissa’s mother, Terry Boarts, made the 911 call after Melissa took off in her SUV with a knife, threatening to slit her wrists. Speaking to The Montgomery Advertiser, Terry said that she told the 911 operator her daughter “was having mental issues—that she was bipolar, that she had been really depressed, that she was saying she was going to cut her wrists.”
As local news outlets reported, Melissa, with police officers in tow, drove along Interstate 85, and eventually came to a stop in Macon County.
Melissa is said to have exited her vehicle, allegedly with a weapon and to have threateningly charged officers. An unidentified Auburn police officer fatally shot Melissa. She died at the scene.
Macon County Coroner Hal Bentley confirmed that Melissa died of a single gunshot wound.
The officer, along with another officer, has since been placed on administrative leave, according Captain Lorenza Dorsey with the Auburn Police Division.
The shocked Boarts family are pursuing legal action. Attorney Julian L. McPhillips, who will represent the Boarts, said, “Any kind of decent police training would teach you how to deal with people with mental health issues.”
“If you go around shooting them all just because they have a knife in their hand, that’s terribly wrong,” he said.
“Officers of the Auburn Police Division have encountered thousands of situations involving those with a weapon or intending to hurt themselves. In my entire 28 years with the police division, this is the first time that we’ve had an encounter that resulted in deadly force being used,” said Register, according to The Montgomery Advertiser.
The Alabama State Bureau of Investigation and the Macon County Sheriff’s Department are investigating the incident.