Spring Editorial Board 2016
On Sunday, April 3, Melissa Boarts lost her life.
Melissa’s mother, Terry Boarts, called the Auburn Police Division because she feared for her daughter’s well-being.
“I had called 911 to get help for her because she was threatening to cut her wrists,” Terry told The Plainsman. “She has been diagnosed with bipolar [disorder] ... and PTSD. She was really depressed. I had told 911 that she was really depressed.”
Boarts was driving her car down Interstate 85 when officers began following her.
Eventually, Boarts pulled over on a rural road in Macon County and exited her vehicle.
According to police, she charged officers with a weapon.
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In response, an officer shot Boarts once, killing her.
This would mark the first time the APD has had to resort to deadly force in almost 40 years.
With the ongoing investigation, the APD has yet to release dash-cam footage that captured the event.
The aftershocks of Melissa’s death were felt April 23 when members of her family staged a protest.
Reinforced by other families who had been affected by officer-involved shootings, the protest aimed to sway the APD to make more details of the investigation available to the public.
The fact that the officer resorted to lethal force as a first option is unsettling.
Deterrents such as mace or a taser gun would’ve been better suited to eliminate any potential threat posed by Melissa.
The officers had been warned Melissa wasn’t in a good mental state and she possessed a small pocketknife.
After the shooting, the officers involved were placed on administrative leave for an undetermined amount of time.
The ADP and the Alabama State Bureau of Investigations should release more information regarding the case, specifically dash-cam footage.
While some are calling for the officers’ names, we believe the names should remain sealed until the investigation concludes.
Releasing the names before the investigation ends could potentially have terrible effects on the officers’ lives and could negatively impact the officers’ families as well.
Releasing the personal information of the officers invites vigilante justice. It’s important to remember the officers are innocent until proven guilty and all should be done to prevent mob mentality from taking root.
Showing the dash-cam footage, however, would serve well in providing the closure needed for the family and the public at large.
Cynicism beckons us toward the memory of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald walking down that Chicago road away from officers while holding a knife — and promptly being shot 16 times
Eventually the dash-cam footage of the slaying was released, and all of the built-up tension toward the case was released in a storm of protests.
The officer involved had lied in his report.
His claim that McDonald attempted to attack, which resulted in him backpedaling and shooting to save his life, was directly contradicted by the dash-cam footage.
Given the tensions between the police and the public during the past few years, the public needs no more reason to mistrust officers.
Withholding the footage damages the reputations of those brave men and women who put on the blue uniform to protect us daily.
If the officers’ account is accurate and the response was justified, let the public know by releasing the footage.
If the shooting wasn’t justified, let the public know by releasing the footage. It is our hope the ADP or the State Bureau of Investigations releases it soon and commits itself to preserving transparency.
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