The family of Melissa Boarts, a woman killed by the Auburn Police Division in Macon County in April, held a press conference today in Montgomery about a petition addressed to Auburn Mayor Bill Ham. The petition is asking for the release of body and dash-camera footage of the police-involved that ended in Melissa's death.
The petition has now garnered more than 44,700 signatures.
Earlier this week, The Auburn Plainsman filed a public records request under Alabama law to inspect or obtain copies of the video footage and 911 audio recordings. The Plainsman's requests were denied. City officials said they could not release any information pertaining to the case while an active investigation is taking place.
Today, Julian McPhillips, the lawyer for the Boarts family, said the Alabama State Bureau of Investigations had concluded their inquiry into incident that day and has forwarded the information to the Macon County District Attorney.
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Police have said officers responded to a report of a suicidal motorist that afternoon.
That call was from Terry, who decided to call the police after her daughter got in her car and disappeared. Terry said she discovered her daughter was on Interstate 85 and began following Melissa in her own car throughout the ordeal.
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.
Police say the shooting was justified because she charged officers with a weapon.
"They shot and killed her," Terry said. "They said that they were afraid of her. If they were that afraid of her, they don't need to be cops."
According to Boarts family, the weapon with which Melissa charged police was a small pocket knife she was carrying. The same pocket knife with which she threatened to injure herself. Terry said she told police Melissa had the knife.
“They knew when they rolled up on her exactly what the situation was,” Michael said. “We told them what her mental state was. We told them the weapon she had. She had a pocket knife. They still haven’t said outright that it was a knife that she had. They keep saying a weapon. For a lot of people, (a weapon) is a gun.”Melissa’s death was the first time the APD has used deadly force in nearly 40 years, according to the APD.
Since the incident happened that day, Auburn police and city officials have refused to comment.
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