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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn police: use of deadly force was justified, family of slain woman disagrees

Police said the shooting death of a suicidal woman in Macon County on Sunday, April 3, was justified.

Officers shot and killed Melissa C. Boarts, 36, in Macon County on Sunday afternoon after she charged officers with a weapon, according to an APD release.

"We support the officers' actions," said Auburn Police Division Capt. Lorenza Dorsey.

Police said they responded to reports of a "suicidal motorist" on Interstate 85 at approximately 3:40 p.m.

Police followed the vehicle for several miles until it stopped on Red Creek Road in Macon County, according to the release.

Boarts exited her car and charged officers "in a threatening manner" when the police opened fire.

Boarts died at the scene.

Dorsey said Auburn police officers met with Boarts' family Sunday night and spoke "at length."

"It's a tragedy for their family and the officers involved," Dorsey said.

It was the first time in nearly 40 years APD officers used deadly force, according to Dorsey.

Julian McPhillips, a Montgomery-based personal injury attorney, was contacted by Boarts' family. He said he handles a lot of wrongful death cases and plans to pursue civil action on their behalf. 

"For [police] to shoot and kill her is abominable," McPhillips said. 

McPhillips said police were initially following Boarts because her parents called 911. He also said she had mental health issues and was only armed with a small knife.

"It should never have happened," McPhillips said. "There's no excuse. People with mental health issues should be treated with more respect."

The State Bureau of Investigations is investigating the shooting along with the Macon County Sheriff’s Department and the Macon County Coroner’s office.

Police did not release the names of the officers. They have been put on administrative leave for an "undetermined" amount of time, according to Dorsey.

An autopsy will be performed by the Alabama Department of Forensic Science, according to Macon County Coroner Hal Bentley.

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