Protesters lined the streets in front of the Auburn Police Division on Saturday, June 11 to demand justice for Melissa Boarts and Recco Cobb. Melissa was shot by the police and protestors say the police denied Recco treatment after he was shot at a nightclub. Both incidents happened in April of this year.
Arthur Dowdell, former city council member for the City of Auburn, participated in the protest along with both families on Saturday. Protesters said their objective is to seek justice and to have the Auburn Police release footage of the fatal shooting and treatment of both Melissa and Recco.
“[Melissa] was killed in a suicide-homicide, but according to this report from the forensic science department in Montgomery, the report reads her cause of death as a homicide … the Auburn police killed this woman and they are trying to cover it up … this is why we are here to fight for justice," Dowdell said.
The Boarts family was on the line with a 911 operator for over 45 minutes throughout Melissa's encounter with the police.
"I just wonder why they are not giving us any answer," said Terry Boarts, Melissa's mother. "We got the autopsy report … they shattered her chest, her spine was cut in half, she had bruises to her face and [the police] denied the helicopter to land. We were at the edge of the road but would not let us get near … we wonder if [the police] let her lay there and bleed out … Melissa was the only witness.”
When Melissa finally stopped on a rural road in Macon County, Alabama, police said she rushed officers with a weapon. A single gunshot discharged from an officer's weapon killed Melissa.
Terry also shared the conversation she said she had with Police Chief Paul Register a month ago about the mental health of Auburn’s police force. Register shared with Boarts that what happened to Melissa has happened before and has happened since then. The Boarts family calls for justice and better mental health regulation for police.
The police maintain the shooting was justified because Melissa charged officers with a weapon.
"It's a tragedy for their family and the officers involved," said Capt. Lorenza Dorsey, public information officer for the APD, in a release shortly after Melissa's death. Police have refused to comment due to impending litigation.
Recco was allegedly shot, along with two other men, by Tarabien Cobb. Protestors said he was denied medical assistance by the police at Mr. D’s Nightclub. Tarabien was arrested Saturday, April 23.
“We believe since Mike Hubbard was found guilty that corruption is spread wide … it’s city-wide, it’s state-wide," Dowdell said. "We would like to issue an order: If you don’t have anything to hide, let these parents [and people] who are concerned about their loved ones see the videos of what happened to Recco and Melissa. [Recco's] son misses his daddy. Let us see [footage], if we are wrong [with the claims] then prove it.”
The Cobb and Boarts families plan to continue protests monthly until they receive the answers they need for closure, protestors on Saturday said.