On May 1, Atlanta-area police showed up to the home of Nick and Lisa Messina with riot shields, a sniper and an armored tank. The Messinas had called the police because their 16-year-old son Andrew had taken a gun from the house and was threatening to commit suicide. Just over an hour later, that sniper, who was set up across the street in a neighbor's yard, shot and killed Andrew as he stood in a window at the front of the family's home.
The Messinas spoke out earlier this week for the first time, to contradict the characterization of their son's death as outlined by Cherokee County sheriff Roger Garrison (who, it should be noted, once wore a KKK costume to a Halloween party in 1985). Garrison, unsurprisingly, said the shooting was justified because Messina stuck his pistol "straight through the glass door at [the] officers."
The Garrison's attorney, citing the Georgia Bureau of Investigation report, says that officers were behind a wall outside of the house, and that none of them saw Messina stick the gun through the window. The sniper was on the scene for less than 20 minutes, and had not been briefed on the situation.
In the minutes prior to his death, Andrew asked the negotiator he was speaking with to put his father on the phone, but that didn't happen. Earlier, when his mother called 911, she attempted to have the operator confirm for her that just one car would show up at the house:
"I need you to get away from him if you think he is going to shoot you," the 911 operator said on the call.
"I think he is going to shoot himself," Lisa Messina replied.
The operator told her to get out of the home, and Lisa Messina asked, "How many cars are coming? Just one, right?"
"I'm not sure," the operator replied.
But next thing they knew a slew of officers arrived.
"They brought an army to take out a 16-year-old boy. To kill a 16-year-old boy," Nick Messina said.
Chuck Pekor, the family's attorney, told CBS Atlanta that, "We have not been able to find any justification whatsoever for that Cherokee County Sheriff sniper to shoot Andrew Messina. Zero."
This is what happens now in America, as a militarized police force becomes the new normal. You call the police in the hopes that they will talk your suicidal son out of killing himself, and instead they shoot him in the stomach and tell you it was for the best.