For parents of a suicidal daughter, calling 911 turned out to be the worst thing they could have done
Police shot a suicidal woman whose parents had called 911, hoping for help to keep her alive.
Melissa Boarts suffered from manic depression and threatened to slit her wrists before she took off in her car down Interstate 85 toward Auburn, Ala., on Sunday.
When Melissa's mother, Terry Boarts, realized her daughter was gone, she jumped in her car and called Melissa's twin sister, Melinda, for help.
"We happen to have a GPS on her car, so I get on the computer. I see where [Melissa is], so I call [parents Terry and Michael], and I'm relaying where she's going," Melinda told local news.
They tracked her to a rest stop, but because of traffic could not reach her.
"We were afraid she was going to hurt herself [...] we figured she was going to bleed out right there," Terry said.
So they called 911.
"I relayed to [police] that she 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. [...] We were thinking they would get her help," Terry said. They also informed police Melissa was carrying a pocket knife.
Melissa started driving again, and at one point her parents were close enough to spot the SUV their 36-year-old daughter was driving. Meanwhile, they continued to give turn-by-turn directions to police, who arrived long before them. Terry says she stayed on dispatch until it was clear her daughter was dead, but she assumed Melissa had succeeded in committing suicide.
Terry quotes one sergeant telling her, "All I know is there's one female fatality." When they arrived at the site, 14 police cars, a helicopter and two emergency vehicles were already there.
It was not until four hours later the Boarts discovered Melissa did not die of her own accord. "Finally, [police] came up and said they shot her, basically," Melinda said.
According to the police report, Melissa exited the car "armed with a weapon and charged the officers in a threatening manner." While the Boarts do not doubt Melissa threatened the officer, they believe the killing was unnecessary.
"[The police officers] knew exactly was was going on. That's why we can't understand why they had to shoot her," Michael said.
The family hired a lawyer and intends to take legal action against the Auburn Police Department. The lawyer claims, "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."
"The only reason I called (the police) was because I thought they could help her," Terry said. "I had no idea that they would kill her."
Melissa leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter.
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